Sabres seeing 3-D

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

BUFFALO -- As the Sabres eulogized yet another injured defenceman lost in these playoffs, you could almost hear the Battle Hymn Of The Republic being hummed around their dressing room.

Henrik Tallinder joined Dmitri Kalinin and Teppo Numminen in street clothes after breaking his left arm in the third period of Game 3's 4-3 win. Tonight's match, in which the Sabres could take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final, will see Buffalo's veteran blue liners Jay McKee, Toni Lydman and Brian Campbell augmented by unknowns Rory Fitzpatrick, Jeff Jillson, and either Doug Janik, Nathan Paetsch or perhaps even forward Jason Pominville. After that, the next call from coach Lindy Ruff could be to Jerry Korab and Jim Schoenfeld, local heroes the first time the Sabres tried to advance to the Stanley Cup final in 1975.

"When you do lose a guy, you feel for him, but we also do the team a disservice by (moping about it)," goaltender Ryan Miller said yesterday as the team readied for Game 4 at HSBC Arena. "You have to step up for the guy. You tell yourself 'he went out and gave it his all, so he would expect the same from us.'

"We don't get down when we lose a guy. We don't look at our team as having just one dimension."

Paetsch has a folding chair instead of a locker room stall, Janik has played one NHL playoff game and before Game 3, Jillson last saw post-season action four years ago with San Jose. Fitzpatrick was injured or scratched in much of the season's second half and the other three have not played regularly since Rochester's AHL season ended weeks ago. Now they're being asked to help nail down a Stanley Cup, which Miller quipped, "would fill their resumes with something."

"It's a chance to step on the big stage and prove they can play at this level," he said. "They've been part of our system all year, part of our meetings. They should be up to speed."

Tallinder broke his arm on an innocent-looking hit in the third period.

"You get asked all the time, 'Why is this team so good?' and (Tallinder) is one of the reasons," Campbell said. "No one knows him, yet he plays against the other team's top line. We'll miss him, but that's where it ends. We pick up and move on."

Numminen joked he was "feeling 50-60%" and could return by Game 5. Ruff said it was "a matter of days" until Numminen's pulled groin heals. Kalinin fractured an ankle. Trying to rattle the newcomers and anxious for a series' split, Carolina will be coming after the new defencemen tonight.

"It creates a lot of excitement among our forwards to get down into their end," said 'Canes' Cory Stillman, a two-goal man in Game 3. "Tallinder was logging 20 minutes a game against our top line."

The new Sabres should expect to be initiated by shot blocking. Buffalo defencemen stopped 12 in Game 3, while the team blunted 19 as a whole, compared to eight by the 'Canes in the 4-3 win.

"It's not just putting your legs in the way, it's putting your face in the way if you have to," Campbell said. "That's the kind of mentality we've had as a team all year.

"If Jay goes out and sticks his (lower extremities) in the way, and he has been in the league almost 10 years, then I better do it and everyone else in the room better be doing it, too."

The Sabres have been involved in eight consecutive one-goal decisions since the start of the conference semi-final against Ottawa, which has led to plenty of late-game drama. They blocked three shots in the frantic Game 3 finish when the 'Canes pulled goalie Martin Gerber.


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