for this game

Senators post impressive victory in conference finals opener

May 11, 2007 - 5:11 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- After taking the second period off, the Ottawa Senators resumed their dominance over the Buffalo Sabres in the third.

Oleg Saprykin snapped a tie at 7:41 of the third session and Jason Spezza added insurance with a power-play goal in the latter minutes as the Senators posted a 5-2 victory over the Sabres on Thursday in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals.

Dean McAmmond and captain Daniel Alfredsson each recorded a goal and an assist for Ottawa, which looks to take a two-games-to-none lead in the series here on Saturday.

"I think getting the first game really sets a nice tone for our club as far as confidence and going forward," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "We just have to continue to play at a good level as long as we can."

"There were situations in the game that we have to clean up," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think it's a seven-game series. I know when you lose the first game, there's a great amount of disappointment. I think it's up to us to put that behind us and make sure that we come out and win Game Two."

Despite scoring a league-leading 308 goals during the regular season and winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history, the Sabres had all kinds of trouble with the Senators, who won five of the eight meetings between the teams.

With a chance to avenge last year's five-game loss to Buffalo in the conference semifinals, Ottawa showed why it was second in the NHL in scoring (288 goals) and finished just eight points behind its Northeast Division rival in this one.

After squandering an early 2-0 lead, the Senators moved ahead for good at 7:41 of the third period on Saprykin's first point of the postseason.

"We know they're a team that doesn't give up, that keeps coming at you," Ottawa's Dany Heatley said. "We realize that, but at the same time, going 2-2 into the third, we're confident that we can come out and win the third period."

A healthy scratch for the first three games of the conference quarterfinals, Saprykin failed to get on the scoresheet over Ottawa's next seven playoff contests. But after McAmmond intercepted Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen's clearing attempt along the left wing boards, the 26-year-old Russian deflected a centering pass past goaltender Ryan Miller for a 3-2 edge.

"It means a lot to me," Saprykin said. "It means a lot to us, for the team, coming into Buffalo's rink and winning the first game."

"We were fortunate enough for two periods to sit there at 2-2 with the number of giveaways we had," Ruff said. "A lot of them were unforced in our hands. It even turns out the game-winning goal is an unforced turnover where we had full possession and just made a disappointing play."

After registering a career-high 34 points in 59 games with Phoenix, Saprykin was acquired by Ottawa at the trade deadline on February 27. But he failed to impress, notching just a goal and an assist in 12 games while being scratched eight times.

"He's got a great attitude," Heatley said. "I didn't know him real well coming in. From day one, he's had a great attitude. He's been put in some tough spots. He's working hard. He scored a big goal for us."

Alfredsson realizes that in order for the Senators to get past the Sabres, they will need contributions from their fourth line.

"I think it's very important, for the long playoff run, to have that kind of contribution from everybody," Alfredsson said. "They don't get a lot of headlines. They go out, they try to put the puck in deep, finish checks. Everybody's happy for them when they get a big goal like that."

Following an untimely tripping penalty on Buffalo's Derek Roy, Spezza made it a two-goal advantage with his sixth tally of the postseason, banging a loose puck by Miller from in front with 4:12 remaining.

"The power-play goal at the end of the game was a gimme," Miller said. "Basically, it's a 3-2 game on a puck that got thrown to the top of the crease."

McAmmond sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final seconds.

"We've been a real good club in the third period," Murray said. "Our play in the third in the latter part of the year and all through the playoffs has been outstanding."

The Senators' special teams excelled early. Mike Fisher scored a shorthanded goal just 4 1/2 minutes into the game, and Alfredsson netted a power-play tally less than four minutes later to give Ottawa a 2-0 bulge.

"They're going to be huge the rest of the series," Heatley said. "We scored three special-teams goals. It's a huge part of the series, and it is in any series."

With defenseman Tom Preissing in the penalty box for tripping, McAmmond was denied by Miller on a shorthanded breakaway at 3:29. However, Fisher converted a similar chance a minute later, stealing the puck at his own blue line and racing up ice before firing it between Miller's pads at 4:32 for his second goal of the postseason.

"I think it bounced a little bit and I got a break, put it right on my stick," Fisher said. "I got a breakaway and was lucky enough to bury it and get us going."

"That's a tough one," Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell said. "It's a frustrating goal, but it happens. I just think the whole night, our execution wasn't at the top of its game."

During a 4-on-3 advantage, Alfredsson doubled Ottawa's lead. Off a feed from defenseman Joe Corvo, the Swede unleashed a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat Miller to the short side at 7:54 for his seventh playoff tally.

Buffalo got on the scoreboard just three minutes later, as Maxim Afinogenov buried a rebound from alone on the left side of the net at 10:55 after screened netminder Ray Emery turned aside Thomas Vanek's shot from above the right circle.

"I thought he had some real good shifts and good energy for us," Ruff said of Afinogenov. "(His line) got one of our goals and, for the most part, was creating opportunities for us."

The Sabres pulled even midway through the second on a goal by Toni Lydman. After Jason Pominville won a faceoff in the right circle, Lydman gained control of the puck along the boards.

The defenseman cut toward the net after skating to the bottom of the circle and wristed a shot past Emery at 8:45 for his third career playoff tally and second this postseason.

Emery, who faced just 20 shots, improved to 6-1-0 vs. Buffalo this season.

"We played a really good defensive game," he said. "Part of that is getting in the shooting lanes and taking away those shots before they get there. The forwards and defense were doing a great job.

Entering with a league-leading 14 points in the playoffs, Heatley was held to an assist. Heatley, who recorded eight goals and 10 assists against Buffalo during the regular season, unleashed six shots against Miller but was thwarted each time.

Miller's best stop on Heatley came 64 seconds into the third, when the All-Star goalie kicked away the 50-goal scorer's shot from the low slot with his left skate.








  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 2 0 3 5
    BUFFALO 1 1 0 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - (SH) MIKE FISHER 2 (UNASSISTED) 4:32
    OTT - (PP) DANIEL ALFREDSSON 7 (JOE CORVO, JASON SPEZZA)
    7:54
    BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 3 (THOMAS VANEK, DMITRI KALININ)
    10:55
    2ND PRD: BUF - TONI LYDMAN 2 (JASON P

    May 10 9:34 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 5
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: OTT - (EN) DEAN MCAMMOND 3 (DANY HEATLEY) 19:47

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 9:34 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 4
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: OTT - (PP) DANY HEATLEY 6 (JASON SPEZZA, WADE REDDEN) 15:48

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 9:29 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 3
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: OTT - OLEG SAPRYKIN 1 (DEAN MCAMMOND) 7:41

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 9:11 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 2 0 2
    BUFFALO 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - (SH) MIKE FISHER 2 (UNASSISTED) 4:32
    OTT - (PP) DANIEL ALFREDSSON 7 (JOE CORVO, JASON SPEZZA)
    7:54
    BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 3 (THOMAS VANEK, DMITRI KALININ)
    10:55
    2ND PRD: BUF - TONI LYDM

    May 10 8:40 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 2
    BUFFALO 2
    2ND PRD: BUF - TONI LYDMAN 2 (JASON POMINVILLE) 8:45

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 8:20 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 2 2
    BUFFALO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: OTT - (SH) MIKE FISHER 2 (UNASSISTED) 4:32
    OTT - (PP) DANIEL ALFREDSSON 7 (JOE CORVO, JASON SPEZZA)
    7:54
    BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 3 (THOMAS VANEK, DMITRI KALININ)
    10:55
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1S

    May 10 7:48 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 2
    BUFFALO 1
    1ST PRD: BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 3 (THOMAS VANEK, DMITRI KALININ) 10:55

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 7:32 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 2
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: OTT - (PP) DANIEL ALFREDSSON 7 (JOE CORVO, JASON SPEZZA) 7:54

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 7:26 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL OTTAWA 1
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: OTT - (SH) MIKE FISHER 2 (UNASSISTED) 4:32

    Senators vs. SabresMay 10 7:17 PM