Thursday, May 10, 2007

Senators take game one from Sabres

They came out of the gate looking like a blow out was on their minds, handed the momentum back to the hosts for the second period and then turned around and retook the game in the third.

If you’re looking for the game in a capsule that would be the synopsis for the Sens Game one victory in Buffalo on Thursday night.

Ottawa gave every indication of looking to take the Sabres to the clinic in the early stages, scoring two goals in the first eight minutes. But, to the credit of Buffalo, they refused to be run out of their own building.

The Sabres mounted an impressive comeback in latter half of the first and through the second period, catching the Sens and taking the play into the third tied at two goals a piece.

It was a fast flowing game, though one riddled with errors on both sides, giveaways, fancy passes that had best not be made and in the case of the Sabres some special teams miscues that would come back to haunt by the end of the third period.

Ottawa found scoring from all segments of the game, the power play, the penalty kill, the first line and the fourth line. Buffalo made too many errors in their own end, leaving Ryan Miller at the mercy of Ottawa snipers, give Mike Fisher a breakaway, Daniel Alfredsson a lane or Jason Spezza a rebound and most times the puck is going in behind the goaltender.

All three events took place resulting in goals, while goals Oleg Saprykin and an empty netter from Dean McCammond rounded out the Ottawa scoring in game number one, Maxim Afinogenov and Toni Lydman countered for the Sabres, but by the end of the night the Sabres were still three goals short of extending the game.

The Senators showed flashes of dominance through the game, then inexplicably would allow the Sabres to carry the bulk of the play, the second period in particular took on a Buffalo shine as the Sabers did everything but take the lead from the Sens. For Buffalo it was a power play that sputtered that became costly, in fact the Sens made the best of a gift on a Buffalo power play by turning a turnover into a short handed goal early in the game, it set the tone for the Sabres tentative power play that never really seemed to threaten the Senators for most of the night. When the play did seem to get heated in the Ottawa end however, the Sens could count on their goaltender, who had a rather light night on the job, but made the saves that counted when they needed to.

Ray Emery, the incarnation of public enemy number one in Buffalo this week rose to the occasion, though he slipped on one goal of the two, a lapse that didn’t haunt him in the end. Emery benefited greatly from an Ottawa defence that is not afraid to block a shot, Anton Volchenkov alone seemed to deflect, knock away or smother six to eight shots all on his own. Overall, Emery had a relatively light workload, twenty shots all told; his counterpart in the Buffalo end, Ryan Miller faced 38 shots and frequently saw his defence stray away from their assignments leaving him alone with attacking Senators.

Game One is a key match up in any playoff round, though surely not the weathervane for ultimate success. It’s just one game closer to moving on to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, a mission the Sens have set for themselves this year and one which took a solid step forward on Thursday night.

The reviews are moving along the news sites and we’ll feature some of the insight to Thursday’s action below:

Sabres gift wrap opener
MacGregor: Snakebitten cities might share a kinship, but for bad blood
Senators Score Late and Often in Taking an Early Series Lead
Saprykin scores winner as Sens draw first blood in 5-2 win over Sabres
Senators excel at Sabre rattling
Senators stick it to Sabres in Game 1
Sens draw first blood in win over Sabres
Senators overpower Sabres
Net gains for Sens goalie
Sens roll to Game 1 victory
Fourth- liners take spotlight
Senators Strike 1st for 1-0 Series Lead
Senators flatten Sabres to take opener in East finals
Senators’ Saprykin picks good time to end playoff goal drought

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