‘Heading into overtime for the fifth time in the past ten playoff meetings with Ottawa, destiny – a friendly accomplice for most of the Sabres’ inspiring regular season – chose to smile on their hungrier opponent this time, serving an end result that sent the Senators on to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance and the favored Sabres into an offseason of doubt, second-guessing and torturous decisions for their future roster.’
Archives for May 19, 2007
'Don't get me wrong — the team's performance in Games 4 and 5 was commendable, gritty, and aggressive. But they shouldn't have needed three straight losses and a backs-against-the-wall situation to get to that point, even against a team as tough as Ottawa.'
'The Senators easily have been the most impressive team in the playoffs, winning seven of eight games on the road (including all three in Buffalo), scampering to the final in a mere 15 games. Ottawa might have played two bad periods — the third period in Game 2 against Pittsburgh in the first round and the first period against Buffalo in Game 4 — but they haven't been close to playing a truly bad game.'
'Now that they are in the finals, it is reasonable to wonder just how good a team the Senators are.'
'"It's definitely a tough thing to handle," said Sabres forward Jason Pominville, choking back the tears after Buffalo was eliminated from the Eastern Conference final in overtime by the Ottawa Senators. "It's not too often that you get an opportunity to get this far two years in a row, and this is a great group of guys, but this might be the last time we all get to play together. All I can say is that we battled hard."'
'"We kind of realized a little too late how to play."'
'The Sabres were dumping and chasing the puck more often in this game, but were unable to win most of the foot races for the puck. Once again Buffalo struggled against the Senators' strong penalty killing.'
'Many thought this was over in the third, but a 5-on-3 man advantage with Anton Volchenkov and Christoph Schubert off was costly. It resulted in the tying goal by Buffalo's Maxim Afinogenov that sent it to OT at 10:58.'
'With just over ten minutes left in the third the Sabres would get a chance to tie it with a two man advantage. The Senators would kill off the first penalty but Maxim Afinogenov smacked home a rebound to tie it 2-2. Buffalo would have two more chances on the power play but could not net the game winner in regulation as the two teams would head to sudden death overtime.'
'Jochen Hecht and Maxim Afinogenov scored for the Sabres, who failed to advance beyond the conference finals for the second consecutive season. Daniel Briere added a pair of assists in defeat.'