OTTAWA - Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson saw the puck dribbling over the line, but gave it an extra push just in case.
The way Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller was playing, Alfredsson didn't take any chances.
An opportune bounce that led to Alfredsson's goal and a stifling defensive performance combined to produce Ottawa's 1-0 win over the Sabres on Monday night that gave the Senators a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"I believe you make your own luck, and I believe if you work hard you're going to get your bounces," Alfredsson said. "We know if we play our game to our best, we're a tough team to beat."
Everything is going the way of the Senators, who host Game 4 on Wednesday and are one win from advancing to their first Stanley Cup final.
Ray Emery was hardly tested, but stopped 15 shots to register his third shutout this postseason. In improving to an NHL-best 11-2 this postseason, Ottawa has won a franchise-record six straight playoff games.
"I don't think I'm surprised," Emery said. "Everyone has stuck to the game plan to a man, and that's the reason for our success." Most impressive is they've found a way to demoralize the top-seeded Sabres - a team whose season-long objective to win the Cup has been derailed. Buffalo was shut out for the first time since a 4-0 loss to Carolina in Game 4 of last year's East finals
"What's done is done. We've got to regroup as best we can and focus on the first 20 minutes of Game 4," Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. "No one's too happy right now."
Drury was particularly disappointed in believing the Sabres let down Miller, who was remarkable in stopping 31 shots.
"The biggest thing is you feel bad for this guy," Drury said. "Tonight could've been ugly without how good he was. And we couldn't even muster one to get into overtime. It's tough to take."
Buffalo managed only five shots in the final period of play, and the Sabres produced only one in six power-play chances.
The only puck Miller allowed to get past him didn't even begin with a shot on net 13 minutes into the second period.
Dany Heatley's one-timer on the rush from the top of the right circle sailed wide and caromed hard off the end boards directly back at Miller, who was well out of his net. Miller attempted to glove the puck but missed it, inadvertently deflecting it back toward the open goal, with Alfredsson stuffing it in just before it crossed the line.
"I got my hand on Heatley's shot, just enough to push it wide, and to have it fire right back at me kind of surprised me," Miller said. "Tough way to lose a game."
It's the second bad bounce that has gone against the Sabres in consecutive games after defenseman Joe Corvo sealed Ottawa's 4-3 double-overtime win when his shot took a wild bounce and skipped in. Heatley is impressed with how the Senators have taken control. "I think coming back from going up 2-0 in Buffalo, we wanted to really be ready tonight because we knew they were going to come out hard. It's important to get that third one," Heatley said. The Sabres looked befuddled. During their first power play, Tim Connolly was busy complaining that a clearing attempt struck an Ottawa player at the Senators bench rather than going back to get the puck. Defenseman Brian Campbell also made a curious miscue, staying on the ice after serving a penalty, giving Buffalo three blue-liners for an extended stretch. The Sabres' best early scoring chance Monday didn't even produce a shot on net 20 seconds in. That's when Daniel Briere was alone down in front and attempted to wrap the puck around Emery, but had the puck roll of the end of his stick. "I think Ryan did everything he could. That's the reason why it was 1-0, it should have been 10-0 tonight," Sabres center Derek Roy said. "I think we've got to go out and play as hard as we can, desperation from the drop of the puck until the last buzzer in the third period."comments powered by Disqus