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Tough First Period Leads to Loss

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Desperation will push a team to play their best. Having pressed the Ottawa Senators to the brink of elimination with a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Buffalo Sabres got exactly what they expected and witnessed the best-of-seven series expanded to a fifth game.

Ottawa came out flying in the first period - out shooting the Sabres 18-7 - and broke Buffalo's nine game streak of scoring first en route to a 2-1 victory on Thursday night. Buffalo's first loss in five games decreases their lead to three games to one.

"I don't think we played very well in the first, but after that I think we played our game," said Lindy Ruff. "We wanted to end it tonight but we missed some opportunities."

Brian Pothier gave Ottawa the 1-0 lead five minutes in with his first goal of the postseason. Coming off the bench, Pothier jumped into the play and cranked a slapshot from the blueline that beat Ryan Miller between his blocker and body at 4:56.

Miller allowed just the one goal in the opening period and then another in the third, as he stopped 26 of 28 shots in his third loss of the postseason.

"They came out hard and we couldn't match that," said Toni Lydman. "The last two periods were alright. We started to do the little things a little bit better."

The offensive flow that Buffalo showed in the first three games of the series was ruptured during Game Four.

Nerves helped the Sabres commit 19 turnovers during the game, while Ottawa's defense choked the neutral zone and limited scoring chances to a minimum.

Co-captain Chris Drury stated following the contest that the anticipation of winning the series might have been a factor to Buffalo's slow start.

"I was shocked they kept their attack up for the whole (first) period," Drury said. "(That period) ended up costing us."

Daniel Briere's wraparound evened the score, 1-1, at the 16:18 mark of the second, but Wade Redden's power-play goal at 2:52 of the third put Ottawa ahead for good.

"They have a lot of pride, a lot of veterans and a lot of leaders over there," Drury said. "They're not just going to give up because (the series) is 3-0, 3-1 or whatever it is. They are going to battle like crazy and we know that."

Playing the left point on the man advantage, Redden fired a slapshot that deflected off Henrik Tallinder's stick and dribbled between Miller's legs for the winning tally.

The goal was just the second for the defenseman during the playoffs.

"We gave it everything we had in the last 40 minutes," said Briere, whose team out shot Ottawa 23-10 in the final two frames. "It was another closely played game but we've got to look forward to the next one."

The stage for Game Five moves to the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa this Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
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