Sabres stay alive in OT win
BUFFALO, N.Y. ” Daniel Briere and the Buffalo Sabres are headed South ” for a Game 7.
Briere scored a power-play goal 4:22 into overtime and the Sabres forced a deciding game in the Eastern Conference final with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
J.P. Dumont also scored for Buffalo and rookie Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots.
Bret Hedican got the Hurricanes to overtime, scoring with 3:53 left in regulation.
Game 7 will be at Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday with the winner advancing to play Edmonton in the Stanley Cup final, which will open at Buffalo or Carolina on Monday.
The Sabres scored on their first shot on net in overtime and with Carolina’s Doug Weight off for boarding.
After failing to generate much in the first 1:40 of the power play, the Sabres attempted one final rush and got a break when Carolina’s Justin Williams stumbled inside his own blue line.
Buffalo’s Derek Roy got to the loose puck and fed Rory Fitzpatrick at the right point, who quickly passed across to Briere at the top of the left circle.
Briere patiently waited for an opening before snapping a shot that hit Cam Ward’s glove and then fluttered in behind the goaltender for his eighth goal of the postseason and second in overtime.
It marked only the fifth time the Sabres have forced a Game 7 when trailing a series 3-2. Carolina had previously won all four Game 6’s when up 3-2.
Tuesday’s game also was a reversal of Carolina’s 4-3 overtime win on Sunday when Cory Stillman scored with Dumont in the penalty box for hooking.
Dumont can now stop kicking himself for his miscue. His goal, converting Briere’s rebound from the slot five minutes in, ended an eight-game scoring drought.
Miller also rebounded, playing his best game of the series after he had allowed 15 goals on 109 shots in Buffalo’s previous four games.
His only blemish was allowing Hedican’s goal, when the Hurricanes defenseman scored from the left circle, beating a screened Miller just inside the far post.
Miller kept the game tied by getting his blocker up to stop Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour with 1:40 left in regulation. He also made a brilliant save in the first period, diving across the crease to smother a shot from Ray Whitney, who was set up alone to the right of the net.
Ward also played strong, earning the start after he stopped all 15 shots he faced in relieving Martin Gerber on Sunday.
Besides foiling Jason Pominville set up in the slot in the first period, Ward got across in time to block Ales Kotalik’s one-timer from the left circle.
The Hurricanes came out flat, outshot 31-26 and 14-5 in the first period, failing to build off two consecutive victories.
The Hurricanes failed to muster much offense, most of their chances limited to the outside. They also went 0-for-3 on the power play after converting six of their previous 19 chances.
Credit the young and feisty Sabres for showing resilience when facing elimination for the first time this postseason.
Buffalo played without two regular defenseman ” Henrik Tallinder (broken arm) and Dmitri Kalinin (ankle) ” and then lost Teppo Numminen.
Numminen, returning after missing four games with a groin injury, was limited to just 4:13 of ice time in the first period and spent the rest of the game watching from the bench.
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