Sabres, Hasek Push Flyers to the Brink

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A 16-foot inflated replica of Dominik Hasek’s jersey hangs in the lobby of Marine Midland Arena. The Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender must look that big to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hasek made 44 saves and put together his best performance in the postseason Wednesday night at Buffalo, N.Y., as the Sabres beat the Flyers, 4-1, to take a 3-1 series advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Sabres scored on four of their first 10 shots and had three power-play goals as they rolled over the Flyers for the second consecutive game.


Dixon Ward, Miroslav Satan, Matthew Barnaby and Brian Holzinger each scored for the Sabres, who beat the Flyers, 6-1, in Game 3 and came back with a similar effort in Game 4.

“The whole team plays well and takes the pressure off me,” Hasek said. “When the offense scores six or four goals, I don’t give up more than two or three very often. It’s much more fun for me knowing I can make mistakes.”

Hasek didn’t make many in the most important game of his career. The next one will be even bigger. The Sabres could eliminate the Flyers with a victory in Game 5 Friday night in Philadelphia.

“Everything they are doing is right,” Flyer Coach Roger Neilson said. “It has gone a long time that way, but it’s going too good. I still think it could turn around.”

For the second time in two games, the Sabres handed Hasek a lead that was insurmountable. They scored four times on their first 10 shots and blew away the Flyers for the second time in two games.

Hasek lost the shutout with 7:23 remaining when Rod Brind’Amour one-timed Eric Lindros’ pass into the left circle. The goal came much too late for Philadelphia, which was wondering whether it would ever beat the all-world goalie.

“You could see they were frustrated,” Buffalo Coach Lindy Ruff said. “They kept peppering away and shaking their heads. It gets to be frustrating after a while.”

Pittsburgh 6, Montreal 3--Jaromir Jagr had two goals and one assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four special-teams goals in the first period at Montreal.

The victory evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series 2-2, with Game 5 set for Friday night in Pittsburgh.

Jagr, Rob Brown and Kevin Hatcher had power-play goals, and Ed Olczyk scored one short-handed as the Penguins beat goaltender Andy Moog four times on eight first-period shots.

Martin Straka then made it 5-1 on Pittsburgh’s ninth shot with a short-handed breakaway 2:59 into the second period, chasing Moog in favor of Jose Theodore, filling in for injured backup Jocelyn Thibault.

NHL Notes

The Phoenix Coyotes, who have battled the Detroit Red Wings to a stalemate through four games, could be without goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series on tonight. Khabibulin, who played all but 12 games during the regular season, suffered a slightly pulled groin in the first period of Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Red Wings that evened the series at two wins apiece.

Detroit Red Wing left wing Brendan Shanahan is facing a possible suspension after receiving a match penalty for intent to injure in a melee late in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory in Phoenix. When a player receives a match penalty, the incident is automatically subject to league review.