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Sabres Win Wild Game One In OT

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Chris Drury's reputation in Ottawa just reached infamous status following his performance in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Capitalizing on a costly turnover by Anton Volchenkov in the Senators zone courtesy of some wet ice, Drury buried a slapshot into the short side of the net on Ray Emery just 18 seconds into overtime to give Buffalo the 7-6 victory in a scoring bonanza at the Scotiabank Place on Friday night.

"That was pretty wild, especially a wild finish," Drury said. "We're glad we got the win, but we've got to play a lot tighter and smarter if we want more success."

"That's the new NHL and I loved it tonight because of the outcome," said Ruff. "When fans come to the game now, you might as well stay to the end because there is a good chance that the lead can change. It's hard on the heart and hard on the head for coaches, but it's good for the sport."

Drury is no stranger to post-season heroics. In 87 career playoff games, the center from Trumbull, Conneticut has scored 12 game-winning goals. With Drury's latest game-closer, the Sabres take a one-to-nothing lead over the Senators in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

"(Grier) made a great play to start it off," Drury said. "I think his fake may have screwed up Emery a little bit. He dropped the shoulder and made it look like he might shoot and kind of just slid it over to me. I had the easy part ... just getting it on net."

"I'm shaking my head and I'm sure (Ottawa head coach Brian Murray) is shaking his head," said Ruff. "We said this morning it was going to be a track meet. There were all kinds of races going on."

Game One will be remembered forever as Buffalo battling back five times from a goal deficit, including twice in the last two minutes of regulation. Derek Roy knotted the score 5-5 at 18:23 after receiving a feed from Tim Connolly on a shorthanded two-on-one. Connolly coaxed Wade Redden to the ice before setting up Roy's second goal of the game, which added with his three assist gave him five points on the night.

Bryan Smolinski gave Ottawa the 6-5 lead just 24 seconds later but a mistake by Ottawa's goaltender would open the door for the Sabres to send it to sudden death. With just 10.7 tics remaining on the clock, Emery mishandled Daniel Briere's centering pass and gave up a prime scoring opportunity that Connolly, who finished with two goals and an assist, buried for his fifth of the playoffs.

"We're kind of a fearless team, right down to the last 10 seconds of the game," said Drury. "We got a big-time goal from (Connolly) and we just kind of went from there. (Connolly) and Roy were outstanding all night, getting the shorthanded goal to tie it and again to tie it with 10 seconds left was just an impressive performance by those two."

"We've played a little bit like gunslingers all season and have found ways to get back into hockey games," Ruff said. "These guys don't quit. They found a way to tie it and found a way to win it."

Grier collected a goal and two assists, while Ryan Miller made 27 saves.

"We'd like to put ourselves in better position," said Ruff referring to tying the game in its wee moments. "You don't get those opportunities every night."

Buffalo and Ottawa exploded out of the gate with a certain indifference to defensive play, combining to light the lamp four times in the opening seven minutes of play.

With their first shot, Buffalo scored the first goal of the game for the seventh consecutive game in the playoffs and erased Gilbert Perreault's franchise record for the fastest playoff marker off the opening face-off. Attacking Ottawa's net, Roy deked around Wade Redden and slid an across-crease pass to Grier for the slam dunk and his third of the post-season just 35 seconds into the game.

Ottawa took the lead with the fastest back-to-back goals in their post-season history.

Jason Spezza scored at the 3:05 mark of the first with a chip shot into a wide-open net after being setup by an across-ice feed from Dany Heatley, while Bryan Smolinski out muscled a stickless Henrik Tallinder to Volchenkov's rebound in front and fired five-hole on Miller to give the Senators the 2-1 lead just 35 seconds later.

"Both teams played a little bit sloppy tonight," Grier said. "It was a feeling out game and we know we didn't play our best. We're pretty happy to get out of here with a win."

Teppo Numminen's one-timer from the point deflected of Zdeno Chara's left skate to tie the game at 6:56 of the first. The goal is Numminen's first of the playoffs.

Off a long-lead pass from Christoph Schubert, Martin Havlat slipped the puck around Miller's left pad for a breakaway tally at 1:47 to give Ottawa the 3-2 lead. Havlat has scored in every single Ottawa playoff game, giving him seven goals in six games.

"We definitely have to tighten up defensively," Drury said. "They feed off turnovers and odd-man rushes, so we are going to have to tighten that up if we want continued success."

Connolly scored his first of the night with a highlight reel shorthanded goal to tie the game 3-3. Deking Daniel Alfredsson to the ice, Connolly broke on a two-on-one with Paul Gaustad, put the between the Redden's legs en route to the left post and snuck a shot between Emery's right pad and blocker on the short side at 3:29.

With the man advantage, Dany Heatly finally flips of forehand shot over a downed Miller after the netminder stopped three consecutive shots with his left pad and glove a minute after Connolly tied the game.

Buffalo tied the game again with just 30 seconds remaining in the second after Roy one-timer Tallinder's across-ice feed over Emery's right pad.

"I don't know if the wise thing for us to do is to try to run and gun with them," Ruff said. "I'd like to run with them, but I don't know if we want the gun out."

Just 16 seconds into the third, Ottawa converted on a scoring opportunity after stripping Henrik Tallinder behind Buffalo's net. Mike Fischer snapped Havlat's rebound into the short side after Miller had again made three huge saves to regain the Ottawa lead, 5-4.

"No matter what team you are on, you just have to wake up tomorrow and put this one behind you," Drury said. "That was just a crazy night and you have to come ready to play a tighter game on Monday."
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Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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