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Slow Start Stops Momentum

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

April 14, 2007
By Brian Wheeler

A slow start earned the Buffalo Sabres their first loss of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Buffalo rallied to tie the score early in the third period, after spotting the New York Islanders two-goals in the opening 12 minutes of play, but lost 3-2 at the hands of New York's power play.

The series now stands at one game apiece as the venue shifts to Long Island and the Nassau Coliseum. Game Three is Monday at 7:30 p.m.

"They played better than us for the first 18 minutes of the game," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "We worked hard to get back in it, but then we took an undisciplined penalty when we had all the momentum that gave them an opportunity to take the lead again."

Backchecking along the boards, Maxim Afinogenov was whistled for hooking at 7:58 of the third when his stick stuck around Miroslav Satan's waist. Marc-Andre Bergeron scored 39 seconds into the ensuing power play with a one-timer from the right point.

"The third [goal] I saw from the bench; I couldn't see Ryan [Miller], so I don't know how he would have seen the puck," said Ruff. "It was one of those seeing-eye-dogs that was absolutely perfect."

Dmitri Kalinin had tied the game 2-2 just two minutes into the final frame when his wristshot through a scrum in front deflected off goaltender Rick DiPietro and into the net.

DiPietro finished with 32 in his first game action since Mar. 25, while Miller countered with 29.

"We fully anticipated him playing well," said Ruff of DiPietro's layoff. "He's a good goaltender and had himself on a tremendous roll. We've said getting him back is a big plus for that team."

New York took the lead early with intensified pressure on the forecheck and transition game. Compared to Game One when the team recorded just a single shot in the first, the Islanders out shot Buffalo 16-10 by using their defenseman in a similar style to the Sabres.

"Their defenseman were joining the rush," said Jason Pominville. "They created a little bit more offensively than they did in the first game."

Defenseman Bruno Gervais slapshot from the point at 11:03 was his first goal this season, including his 51 regular-season appearances, and expanded New York's lead to a pair.

Trent Hunter redirected Mike Sillinger's shot from the left wing with his right skate to give New York its first lead of the series at 3:07 of the first.

"I didn't think we were moving our feet," said Ruff of the Sabres start. "They out-backchecked us, they were better on the forecheck, and we started with about three minutes left in the first period to finally start to play."

Toni Lydman brought Buffalo within a goal with 1:02 left on the clock before the first intermission.

Thomas Vanek stickhandled around the net, through three defenders into the slot, and kicked the puck back to the defenseman, who fired into the top-right corner of the net to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Islanders.

"We might just might have to move on, move forward," said Miller. "Or we can use that as motivation."

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