for this game

Sabres hold off Islanders, advance to conference semis

Apr 21, 2007 - 4:29 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Having defenseman Sean Hill in the lineup likely would not have made much of a difference for the New York Islanders.

Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and an assist and Ryan Miller made 30 saves as the top-seeded Buffalo Sabres advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-3 victory over the Islanders in Game Five of their best-of-seven quarterfinal series.

Rookie Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville and Derek Roy also scored for Buffalo, which posted its first playoff series win over New York in four all-time meetings.

"We certainly didn't want to go back to the Island and give them a chance to force a Game Seven," Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. "We were glad to get it done tonight."

One of the Islanders' top four blue-liners, Hill began serving the 20-game suspension he received earlier Friday for violating the terms of the Performance Enhancing Substances Program run by both the league and the Players' Association. But with his team losing three of the first four games of the series with him in the lineup, it is doubtful the veteran would have been enough of a factor to prevent New York from being eliminated from the postseason.

"Certain things you have to live with," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "It happened and we played with the people we had. ... The one thing we never questioned was the character of this team. We didn't play the way we wanted to at the beginning, but we fought back hard."

Buffalo carried a 3-0 lead into the third period before former Sabre Miroslav Satan atoned for an earlier miscue 4 1/2 minutes into the session to get New York on the board.

Afinogenov restored the three-goal advantage just over two minutes later, and the goal proved crucial as the Islanders tallied twice in a 3:24 span midway through the period to climb within 4-3.

"We just generated, got the puck in," said Islanders left wing Ryan Smyth, who had an assist. "They did a very good job in the first two periods eliminating our forecheck. We weren't getting much in deep. Finally, we did that in the third, we capitalized on some opportunities."

"They played exceptional," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "It was a sound effort from them. They gave us everything. There are no easy games here. If you're a top-eight team, any team can win."

But New York could not get the equalizer past Miller, who made half of his saves in the final session to help send the Presidents' Trophy-winning Sabres to the next round and keep the Islanders without a playoff series victory since 1993.

"Part of us is happy we got in the playoffs, but you look at the big picture," New York goaltender Rick DiPietro said. "You can't be satisfied with just getting into the first round every year and losing out."

"They really turned it up in the third and got some good chances," Miller said. "I didn't want this to be a point in the series where things changed going back to their building up 3-2."

With a chance to close out New York at home, Buffalo grabbed a 1-0 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first period, when Stafford gained possession behind the net, skated around the right side to the slot and put a backhander past DiPietro for his first career playoff goal.

"You get chances, and it's just a matter of taking advantage of them," Stafford said. "You might get one, you might not have any, especially during playoff time, it's so intense. You have to be ready when you get your chance.

"I stuck my leg out, got position on the guy (Randy Robitaille). He was able to give me enough time to get a quick shot off. It's a relief to get that one in. I've been waiting a couple games for it."

Pominville doubled the advantage 39 seconds into the middle session with his second tally of the series. After Satan turned over the puck in the left corner, co-captain Daniel Briere dished to Pominville, who beat DiPietro to the short side with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.

Roy buried a rebound from the doorstep at 11:29, but Satan reduced the Islanders' deficit to 3-1 at 4:22 of the third, firing a backhander by Miller from the bottom of the left circle with his back to the net for his first postseason goal since 2001 with the Sabres.

"I definitely don't think we're playing our best hockey," Briere said. "I think everyone will agree on that. At the same time, what we've done well is found ways to win in the last three games. They were tight games."

Afinogenov netted what proved to be the game-winner just 2:16 later. Thomas Vanek carried down the left side and slid the puck between the skates of defenseman Tom Poti before passing back to the Russian, who beat DiPietro from the left circle for his first tally of the playoffs.

Hunter began New York's comeback attempt by backhanding in a rebound at 9:43, and defenseman Chris Campoli drew the Islanders within a goal by depositing another rebound past Miller with 6:53 to go.

"The desperation was there," New York's Mike Sillinger said. "They got in a defensive mode. They're not a team that plays in a defensive mode. They like to be on their toes. Give credit to us, too. We played hard in the third."

Miller saved the day as time was winding down, stopping Satan with 12 seconds remaining.

"Miller made a heckuva save on Satan when Satan broke in," Nolan said. "That was the save (of the game)."

"I figured I better make up for the one Miro scored earlier," Miller said. "We got to that point where we were holding on, and I didn't want his to be a turning point in the series. I wanted to hold strong."








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0 3 3
    BUFFALO 1 2 1 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 1 (TIM CONNOLLY, ADAM MAIR) 15:04
    2ND PRD: BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 2 (DANIEL BRIERE) 0:39
    BUF - DEREK ROY 1 (ALES KOTALIK, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 11:29
    3RD PRD: NYI - MIROSLAV SATAN 1 (CHRIS C

    Apr 20 9:31 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 3
    BUFFALO 4
    3RD PRD: NYI - CHRIS CAMPOLI 1 (RICHARD PARK, MIROSLAV SATAN) 13:07

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 9:19 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 2
    BUFFALO 4
    3RD PRD: NYI - TRENT HUNTER 3 (BRUNO GERVAIS, RYAN SMYTH) 9:43

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 9:11 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 1
    BUFFALO 4
    3RD PRD: BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 1 (THOMAS VANEK) 6:38

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 9:07 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 1
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: NYI - MIROSLAV SATAN 1 (CHRIS CAMPOLI, JASON BLAKE) 4:22

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 9:01 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0 0
    BUFFALO 1 2 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 1 (TIM CONNOLLY, ADAM MAIR) 15:04
    2ND PRD: BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 2 (DANIEL BRIERE) 0:39
    BUF - DEREK ROY 1 (ALES KOTALIK, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 11:29
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST

    Apr 20 8:36 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 0
    BUFFALO 3
    2ND PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 1 (ALES KOTALIK, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 11:29

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 8:24 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 0
    BUFFALO 2
    2ND PRD: BUF - JASON POMINVILLE 2 (DANIEL BRIERE) 0:39

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 8:02 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY ISLANDERS 0 0
    BUFFALO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 1 (TIM CONNOLLY, ADAM MAIR) 15:04
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NYI 9 9
    BUF 8 8
    GOALIES: NYI - RICK DIP

    Apr 20 7:42 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY ISLANDERS 0
    BUFFALO 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - DREW STAFFORD 1 (TIM CONNOLLY, ADAM MAIR) 15:04

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 7:36 PM
  • 5
    roots
    bones Added 5 roots

    Islanders vs. SabresApr 20 1:11 PM