BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres refuse to let go of their slim
Second-period goals within a one-minute span by Jay McKee and Chris Drury
helped give Buffalo a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
The win helped the Sabres climb within six points of the New York Islanders
for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Both teams
have five games remaining.
``A lot of people gave up on this team a long time ago,'' McKee said.
``Everyone in this room is playing confident right now, and we're up to the
The Sabres haven't qualified for the postseason since 2000-01, and have
never missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons in their 34-year
``Every game is a must win,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``When teams
above us look at it, they must be thinking we won't go away. If they skip a
beat, we can still close on them.''
Daniel Briere, Maxim Afinogenov and Andrew Peters also scored, and Drury
added an assist for the Sabres, who have won three straight and four of their
last five (4-1-0).
Milan Kraft scored for Pittsburgh, which had its three game winning streak
``They played their 'A' game,'' Kraft said. ``We had some great chances, but
didn't come ahead in the score.''
The Penguins came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the league,
having gone 10-3-2 since an 18-game winless streak (0-17-0-1). In addition, the
Penguins hadn't lost to the Sabres in nine games dating to Oct. 14, 2001.
``Right now, against any team, we have to win,'' said Sabres goalie Martin
Biron, who made 24 saves in winning his fourth straight game. ``It's not to
just live another day _ it's to tighten things up.''
Buffalo opened the scoring in the first period after Briere scored his 26th
of the season at 16:45 on the power play. Standing in the left corner, Briere
banked his passing attempt to Drury off Pittsburgh defenseman Josef Melichar's
skate directly in front of Penguins goaltender Sebastien Caron.
Pittsburgh answered with a power-play goal by Kraft that tied the game at 1
with just over 13 minutes remaining in the second. The tally gave the Penguins
power-play goals in 12 straight games, and also put the Sabres back on their
But McKee and Drury broke the game open with less than five minutes to go in
Breaking up the ice on the rush, McKee scored his second goal of the season,
converting a rebound of Milan Bartovic's shot on a four-on-two break.
Drury then scored his 17th of the season at 16:21, sliding the puck past
Caron on a partial two-on-one with Jochen Hecht.
``Pittsburgh's a great team on the power play and they got some momentum
after that goal,'' Biron said. ``We started to play sloppy and were actually
lucky to get out of there with the lead.''
Caron made 26 stops for the Penguins, 8-3-2 in March.
``They're playing to be in the playoffs,'' Caron said. ``They got a couple
good bounces, so there's not much you can do.''
Afinogenov scored his 16th goal with 7:02 left in the game, and Peters added
his second into an empty net with 3:30 to go after Caron was pulled for an
``We didn't generate as much as we would have liked in the first period,''
Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. ``You're going to make your own breaks, and I
believe tonight Buffalo made theirs.''
Hecht had three assists for Buffalo, and has 15 points in his last nine
``There's no sitting back for us now,'' McKee said. ``We don't want this to