BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Daniel Briere felt bad
enough already and didn't need Sabres coach Lindy Ruff
reminding him and his linemates how poorly they played at
Buffalo's co-captain quickly made up for it, scoring twice
in a 4-3 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday night that
gave the Sabres a 2-1 edge in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We knew we didn't do the job," Briere said, referring to
Buffalo's 4-3 loss in Game 2 on Monday. "We knew we had to
improve our play. ... We knew we had to make a bigger
difference and we did."
Ruff's reminder came during a brief meeting at mid-ice
following the Sabres practice on Tuesday. The coach was
unhappy after Briere's line combined for two shots in the
"Everybody thinks it's Lindy," added J.P. Dumont, who
assisted on both of Briere's goals. "But we've got character
on our line. We didn't need that meeting. It just rang the
bell a little bit."
Ales Kotalik had a goal and assist, and Chris Drury also
scored in helping Buffalo score four consecutive goals to
take a 4-1 lead 13 minutes into the second period, taking
advantage of Carolina's lack of discipline.
Buffalo converted two of seven power-play chances, while
Kotalik's eventual winner came on a delayed penalty when he
fired a shot in from inside the blue line after Carolina's
Mike Commodore was called for holding the stick of
defenseman Toni Lydman.
The win didn't come easy in a series in which all three
games have been decided by one goal.
Eric Staal cut the lead to 4-3 with 4:08 remaining, but
Buffalo weathered the final flurry in which Carolina outshot
the Sabres 11-4 in the third period and 3-0 in the last 2
Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller stopped Ray Whitney in the
slot with 13 seconds remaining and Sabres rookie Jason
Pominville got his skate out to block the Hurricanes' final
shot, Matt Cullen's slapper from the top of the left circle.
"We continued to work hard," Staal said. "We had our
chances. There were a couple of blocks there at the end and
Miller made some big saves and it just wasn't enough."
Buffalo Sabres center Daniel
Briere (48) shoots the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goalie
Cam Ward (30) during the second period of Game 3 of the
Eastern Conference hockey finals in Buffalo, N.Y. on
Wednesday, May 24, 2006.
(AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Friday at Buffalo
Stillman scored twice for Carolina, which failed to carry
over the momentum of the Game 2 victory. Things became so
bad that rookie goalie Cam Ward was pulled in favor of
backup Martin Gerber after giving up four goals on 26
Ward wasn't the problem.
"We were in the box the whole time," Stillman said. "And
when we're doing that, we're not going after people."
"We were going to the penalty box and they were making
some big plays," Commodore added. "I don't know if they
caught us off-guard, but it was the difference in the
The Sabres rebounded from their worst performance of the
postseason with one of their best and they did it without
steady defenseman Teppo Numminen, who missed his second
straight game with a lower body injury. Buffalo then lost
another defenseman, Henrik Tallinder, during the win.
Tallinder, who left with about 6 minutes remaining, is day
to day with an upper body injury.
The Sabres' rally began late in the first period when
Drury, from in front, tipped in Kotalik's point shot to
tie it at 1 with a power-play goal.
Briere scored the go-ahead goal - converting Jochen
Hecht's rebound in front - a minute into the second on
another power play with Doug Weight in the penalty box for
Briere made it 3-1 on a partial break at 8:28 of the
second period, and Kotalik scored 4 minutes later, firing
in a 40-footer that beat a screened Ward.
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette didn't fault Ward, saying
he was instead looking for a way to spark his team.
Laviolette, however, didn't say which goalie would start
Friday. The Hurricanes coach is usually reluctant to
reveal his lineup in advance.
Gerber stopped seven shots and was sharp in keeping the
game close. He stopped Mike Grier and Derek Roy on
short-handed breakaways shortly after he entered the game.
Gerber then made a strong save in foiling Maxim Afinogenov
on a breakaway five minutes into the third.