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Senators 2, Sabres 1 @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery turned aside the questions, the chanting Buffalo crowd and, most importantly, the Sabres' potent offense to ensure the top-seeded Senators wouldn't go down with a whimper.

The rookie stopped 29 shots, and Wade Redden's third-period power-play goal was the difference in a 2-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday night that cut Buffalo's lead to 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Senators avoided elimination by shaking off the frustrations of a 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo the previous night, and beat the Sabres in a playoff game for the first time since April 25, 1997, to end a nine-game skid.

And Emery finally has a victory in a series in which he's been faulted for his team's plight, particularly after allowing seven goals on 23 shots in a 7-6 overtime loss in Game 1.

"I was motivated by the fact that I wasn't happy with my play in this series and felt accountable to the guys," Emery said. "That's enough motivation to want to play well."

Hearing his name mockingly chanted throughout the sold-out arena helped, too.

"It kind of keeps you in the game," Emery said. "I don't mind the attention."

Emery foiled three of Ales Kotalik's shots from the slot, including one with 8 minutes left. He also got a glove on Maxim Afinogenov's backhander from in close with 3 minutes remaining, and stopped J.P. Dumont - who scored the Game 3 winner - with a glove save with 70 seconds left.

"He was my star," Senators coach Bryan Murray said.

Brian Pothier also scored for the Senators, who are making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance but attempting to advance to the conference finals for only the second time.

"We still believe we can win this series," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "It's just finding your way to win, that's all that matters now. It's a step in the right direction for us."

Daniel Briere scored for Buffalo, which had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time in five home playoff games.

The best-of-seven-series shifts to Ottawa for Game 5 on Saturday.

The Sabres have only themselves to blame in a game they outshot the Senators 30-28 - the first time they've done that this series - and went 0-for-5 on the power play.

"We have to play as hard as we can," Briere said. "What won the first three games was our desperation. If we get that desperation back in our game, there's no doubt we'll find a way to clinch."

All four games have been decided by one goal.

The teams traded momentum in the first two periods, with the Senators dominating the first and the Sabres responding in the second.

Redden's decisive goal came 3 minutes into the third period and shortly after Buffalo's Derek Roy was penalized for tripping. Redden fired a low shot from the left point that ticked Buffalo defender Henrik Tallinder's stick and sneaked through goalie Ryan Miller's legs.

The Senators got a boost when Pothier opened the scoring five minutes in, beating Miller with a shot from the right point.

The goal marked the first time an opposing team has taken a 1-0 lead against the Sabres this postseason. Buffalo opened the scoring in nine straight games to set a franchise record, but finished two short of matching the NHL playoff mark of 11 set by Chicago in 1973.

Buffalo outshot Ottawa 16-3 in the second and tied the game with four minutes left in the frame. That's when Briere capped a give-and-go with Dumont, driving behind the net to wrap the puck in off Emery's outstretched skate.

"Ottawa played extremely hard," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Whether we expected them to lay down or didn't, we didn't pay the price until the start of the second period."

Although Emery is improving, the longer the series goes, the more likely star goaltender Dominik Hasek could return. Hasek, out since hurting his groin during the Olympics in February, practiced extensively for the second straight time earlier Thursday and said there's a chance he could be back soon.

Notes: Senators RW Vaclav Varada was a healthy scratch as coach Bryan Murray elected to dress an extra defenseman, Anton Volchenkov, who returned after missing Game 3 with a sore neck. ... Senators D Christoph Schubert took Varada's spot as a forward playing alongside Mike Fisher. ... Briere extended his point streak to seven games. He has three goals and six assists in that span.

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