OTTAWA (AP) - Other than Jason Pominville, nobody was happier or quicker to celebrate his overtime goal than Jay McKee.
"I remember thinking, 'Oh man, he's got a chance here,"' said McKee, who was in the penalty box when Pominville scored a short-handed goal 2:26 into the extra period to give Buffalo a 3-2, series-ending victory over Ottawa on Saturday night.
"I saw him get around on the outside and my eyes just widened, and all of a sudden it was in and I got out of there as fast as I could," McKee said. "I looked to my right and he was coming right for me so I just gave him a big bear hug and we got clobbered by the rest of the guys. It was a pretty neat feeling."
With McKee off for tripping Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson 1:44 into the extra period, Pominville burst down the left side and cut in front of goalie Ray Emery to tuck the puck past the rookie and give Buffalo its third overtime winner of the series.
"I think we were the only people who thought we could win the series," Pominville said. "We proved we are a good team and hopefully we can keep going."
Ryan Miller made 34 saves for Buffalo, which won the best-of-seven series 4-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference final against the Carolina-New Jersey winner.
All five games were decided by one goal in the series that featured a tie score or a one-goal lead for all but 1:40 of total play.
"It was definitely nerve-racking," Miller said. "I think we handled it well by playing our own game."
Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder scored his first career playoff goal 33 seconds in and co-captain Chris Drury added a power-play goal 7:56 into the second to put Buffalo up 2-1.
Senators defenseman Brian Pothier scored for the second game in a row on a power play at 13:59 of second to tie it at 2. Alfredsson got his second goal of the playoffs - his first of the series - on a 5-on-3 midway through the first.
"We really believed tonight," said Emery, who stopped 21 shots. "We were really confident coming in."
Buffalo, which finished fourth in the East, three points behind conference top-seed Ottawa in the Northeast Division, will face either No. 2 Carolina or No. 3 New Jersey in its first conference final since 1999.
"Every game was tight," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Every game could have gone either way. There wasn't a lot of relaxation behind the bench so when that goal went in all that pent-up tension was gone in about 30 seconds."
The Senators, who finished with 113 points and led the NHL with 314 goals, finished another disappointing postseason after building up great expectations with a dominant regular-season performance to reach the playoffs for the ninth straight season.
"We look at the two games we lost at home at the beginning of the series and then we got down 3-0, that's a pretty big hill to climb," defenseman Wade Redden said. "The hockey we played against Tampa Bay, we didn't carry that over. We weren't skating as well, we weren't playing as well together and you can't do that when you're up against a team that is doing that, like Buffalo."
The usually quiet Scotiabank Place crowd began to chant "Let's go, Senators!" in the third and Martin Havlat came close to rewarding them when he drove a slap shot off the left post with about 6 minutes left in the period.
Emery stopped Maxim Afinogenov's backhand with 3:54 remaining in the third.
Senators rookie Patrick Eaves shot high and wide on a scoring chance moments later. The rebound bounced off the glass and into the Sabres' crease, where Tallinder reached down and swiped it under himself as players from both teams converged in front of the net.
Buffalo had the only lead of more than one goal in the entire series when it went up 2-0 in the second period of Game 2 on Jochen Hecht's first goal of the playoffs.
Tallinder deflated the sellout crowd early when he beat Emery over the right shoulder with a slap shot.
Ottawa didn't get its first shot until the game was nearly 5 minutes old, with Miller stopping Antoine Vermette's long slap shot. Miller's second save was a little tougher as he gloved Peter Schaefer's shot when the Senators' forward elected to shoot on a 2-on-1 moments later.
Alfredsson tied it with his second of the playoffs with 11 seconds left on a 5-on-3 after Rory Fitzpatrick was sent off for high-sticking.
Emery made a sensational pad save to rob Pominville in the seventh minute of the second period. Left alone to the left of the net, Pominville appeared to have a wide open left side as he took Teppo Numminen's pass from the right boards but Emery kicked out his right leg to stop the Sabres forward's shot.
Miller stopped Alfredsson's shot off a faceoff during Ottawa's second 5-on-3 of the game in the second. Senators right wing Dany Heatley had a chance at a wide open net off the rebound, but the puck hopped over his stick.
Notes: Tallinder's goal was the fourth of the series less than a minute into a period. ... Colorado was the last team to win two in a row after losing the first three games of a playoff series. After falling behind San Jose 3-0 in their 2004 Western Conference semifinal, the Avalanche came back with consecutive wins over the Sharks before losing Game 6.