The Sabres left it all on the ice for most of Wednesday night and came away with a 3-2 victory in Ottawa at Scotiabank Place, the building Don Cherry said we couldn’t win in. Guess what, Canada. We’re coming for you. The Sabres were loose and came out flying and now the pressure is all on Ottawa.
“We could curl up and cry about it and go home,” Chris Drury said after practice yesterday. “Or we could fight like dogs. There’s no other way to think about it. We can’t save anything for Thursday or Friday or Saturday.”
Drury was the alpha-dog in Game Four, scoring the game winner and picking up the lone assist on Derek’s Roy goal nine seconds into the contest. Backing up his words is something we’ve come to expect from Drury, mainly because he doesn’t send out public messages like that often. So we notice when the team steps up.
It was the most complete game we’ve seen from the Sabres so far this playoff season. The Senators came on strong late in the third with their two quick goals and stunned the Sabres a little bit. But they perservered and walked away from a win. The powerplay still wasn’t great, but we’ll all take the goal. The penalty kill was the story, shutting the Ottawa power play out for the second straight game.
Ruff decided to shorten his bench late in the game, rolling with what was working. Kalinin and Vanek saw just one shift in the third period each. Kalinin didn’t touch the ice in the second period and Maxim Afinogenov played just 1:44 in the third. Even Jaroslav Spacek saw a dramatic reduction in ice time, playing only 8:22. The crackdown on ice time is an interesting decision, considering the team was playing without Dainius Zubrus, who left the game late in the first period with what the team is calling a “lower body injury.” Hopefully the extra day off will aid in the healing of whatever is ailing Zubrus.
Oh yeah, and Ryan Miller was outstanding again between the pipes.
Among 9,815 fans inside HSBC Arena watching the game on those huge 12 x 9 foot televisions, I got a small taste of what it should feel like in the Arena on Saturday afternoon. I’ll be among the lucky fans in attendance and hopefully continue to watch history in the making.
Enjoy tonight. Because another Game Seven is coming up on Saturday.