Sabres
Bruins
3 - 0 Final
  for this game

Vanek, Thibault end Sabres' season on high note

Apr 6, 2008 - 3:37 AM
By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Buffalo Sabres played as if they were the team getting ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Thomas Vanek recorded his fourth hat trick of the season and Jocelyn Thibault stopped all 17 shots he faced to post his 39th career shutout as the Sabres blanked the playoff-bound Boston Bruins, 3-0, on Saturday night at TD Banknorth Garden in the regular-season finale for both clubs.

Boston (41-29-12) finished the season with 94 points and can finish no higher than seventh in the Eastern Conference. Regardless, the Bruins already know they will be facing the rival Montreal Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals next week.

"We have to play somebody, obviously," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "You certainly can't pick and choose at this point. If you're confident enough that you can do well in the playoffs, you're going to play a good team somewhere down the road. No issues there for me."

Montreal swept the eight-game season series and has beaten Boston 11 straight times since March 3, 2007.

"It makes for a great series," Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward said. "It's not enough that it's Boston vs. Montreal, it's the fact that they have had our number all year. It adds a little salt in the wound that we haven't cracked that egg."

"I think everyone wants to take the global outlook at 11 in a row," Julien added. "The number that comes to me are the last two games we played. I think we played better as the year went on."

Julien started All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas with hopes of moving up in the standings, while Lindy Ruff of the Sabres went with Thibault, who had not started since January 21 or won since November 24 - the date of his only other shutout this season.

Boston's coach was not pleased with the effort put forth by his team, but he understood what may have happened.

"I was disappointed," Julien said. "You have to realize that our team was battling for their lives now for the last month, and we clinched a playoff spot last night. Part of it is a natural thing for the guys to take a deep breath and relish the fact they accomplished their goal and maybe we didn't have our total focus tonight."

Thibault had a fairly easy night, turning aside nine shots in the first period, three in the second and five in the third.

"Obviously, it's been a tough year for me as far as playing time and stuff," Thibault said. "There were a couple games I would like to play better, but I did a lot of good things, too. I just wanted to finish with a good game and at least go home with a good taste.

"Guys just played a tremendous game tonight. We played probably our best defensive game of the year, and I appreciate the fact they did that for me."

It also was an emotional finale for the Sabres, who watched defenseman Teppo Numminen return to the ice for the first time since undergoing heart surgery in September.

"It went kind of as I expected," said Numminen, who saw just over 16 minutes of action in his season debut. "I haven't played for many months. I was nervous at the start about my timing and turning, and as the game went on, I started feeling more comfortable.

"At the end, I felt great and was pumped to be out there. Going into the game, I wasn't worried about my health, I was just worried about my play. It was the first step to be back."

Following a scoreless first period, the Sabres began the second on the power play as Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy's roughing penalty carried over.

In the opening minute, Derek Roy dumped the puck into the offensive zone, where it was controlled by Jochen Hecht. The center fed Vanek between the circles, where the Sabres' leading goal-scorer netted his 34th of the season on a one-timer that beat Thomas over the right shoulder 61 seconds into the period.

Thomas finished with 25 saves.

"Every game has been so important. It's almost like every game has been a must-win," he said. "It's been playoff hockey for a while now. I think that will help us to hopefully be battle-tested. We've passed every test so far."

Roy ended the season with a 12-game points streak, the longest active run in the NHL.

Jason Pominville helped Vanek add to his total just over 10 minutes later, when he found the Austrian camped out to the right of Thomas. Vanek redirected the pass and it fooled Thomas, beating the netminder to the far side.

"We spent two days talking about being ready to play," Ruff said. "I told them that there was no real consolation winning the game, but showing up and playing as hard as we did was all I asked."

Vanek completed his fourth career hat trick with an empty-netter in the final minute of the third. All four of the 24-year-old's three-goal performances have come since February 12.

"It shows character, I guess," Vanek said. "I never look at goals and points as being successful. I felt like, as a player, I didn't grow as much as I wanted. I think I'm a big reason why we didn't make the playoffs, and I just have to be better."

One season after winning the Presidents' Trophy, the Sabres finished with a 39-31-12 record and 90 points.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 2 1 3
    BOSTON 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) JOCHEN HECHT 23 (DEREK ROY) 1:01
    BUF - (PP) JASON POMINVILLE 28 (ANDREJ SEKERA) 11:38
    3RD PRD: BUF - (EN) THOMAS VANEK 34 (DEREK ROY) 19:17
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: BUF - 2 OF 3, BOS - 0 OF 2.


    Apr 5 9:20 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 3
    BOSTON 0
    3RD PRD: BUF - (EN) THOMAS VANEK 34 (DEREK ROY) 19:17

    Sabres 3, Bruins 0  3rd - 0:43Apr 5 9:18 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 2 2
    BOSTON 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) JOCHEN HECHT 23 (DEREK ROY) 1:01
    BUF - (PP) JASON POMINVILLE 28 (ANDREJ SEKERA) 11:38
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 11 11 22
    BOS

    Apr 5 8:31 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    BOSTON 0
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) JASON POMINVILLE 28 (ANDREJ SEKERA) 11:38

    Sabres 2, Bruins 0  2nd - 8:22Apr 5 8:20 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    BOSTON 0
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) JOCHEN HECHT 23 (DEREK ROY) 1:01

    Sabres 1, Bruins 0  2nd - 18:59Apr 5 8:01 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 0
    BOSTON 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 11 11
    BOS 9 9
    GOALIES: BUF - JOCELYN THIBAULT
    BOS - TIM THOMAS

    Apr 5 7:40 PM
  • 10
    roots
    joegrav Added 5 roots

    Sabres vs. BruinsApr 5 7:07 PM
  • 5
    roots
    mjs1980 Added 5 roots

    Sabres vs. BruinsApr 3 7:23 PM