Pominville can't escape goal

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

NEW YORK -- He is kind of sheepish about it now.

Jason Pominville sat in his stall in the visitors' dressing room at Madison Square Garden yesterday afternoon and was asked about it again.

You know, the goal.

That goal.

The Sabres forward laughed.

"It seems like everywhere I go, people ask me about that goal," Pominville said of his short-handed goal early in overtime of Game 5 that ended the Senators' season in the second round last spring.

"That's the first question they ask me, but it's a different year and I'm just looking really forward to playing them again."

The Sabres and Senators will meet in the Eastern Conference final after the Sabres eliminated the Rangers yesterday in six games with a 5-4 win. The Eastern final will start in Buffalo, but not before Thursday.

NBC, which has The Players Championship golf on next weekend (which means no time for hockey) has told the NHL it wants a game a week from Saturday.

That means the NHL will have to work the schedule to ensure one of the remaining two series lasts at least until May 19, which means a Game 4 for that day.

COULD START SATURDAY

It's possible the Senators-Sabres series might not start until Saturday night.

It's likely it will be the Western final which will have its start delayed or days added between games to accommodate NBC's request. The Ducks advanced to the West final Thursday after eliminating the Canucks while the Sharks and Red Wings play Game 6 of their series tonight with the Wings having a chance to close it out.

The Sabres-Senators final will be a rematch of last spring, the fourth time these teams will meet in the playoffs with the Sabres having been victorious each time.

The Senators were 5-2-1 against the Sabres in the regular season, which was punctuated by a tough hit by Senators forward Chris Neil on Sabres centre Chris Drury Feb. 22.

"I'm not going to say much about it. Everyone knows what happened this year. We expect a battle," said Sabres forward Daniel Briere.

Last spring's series was a bit of a coming out party for Pominville, who was a rookie last year. He passed through waivers at one point and went on to score 18 regular-season goals and another five in the playoffs, none bigger than the one against Ottawa.

He had 34 goals in the regular season this year and scored his fourth of the playoffs yesterday.

In the aftermath of that goal last year, Senators coach Bryan Murray said, "It's Jason Pominville," when asked about the series-ending goal, as if to say, "C'mon."

Pominville wheeled around Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, beat defenceman Wade Redden and tucked the puck past goaltender Ray Emery.

Pominville sounds like he's heard enough about that goal and wants to be recognized for becoming a solid player. The goal was just one step on a trip that wound up ending badly for the Sabres in the Eastern Conference final, losing in seven games to the Hurricanes.

"You know what? (The goal) is definitely something I'll remember for a long time. Even if I hadn't scored it ... I don't know if that's the only thing (that got him noticed)," he said. "This year is a different year and we're all disappointed about the way it ended last year. We want to see what that next step is all about. That's our main focus. We've got to go through Ottawa again, which is a good team, a team that we know is going to be a tough battle."

RUFF: SABRES UNDERDOGS

Yesterday's game was barely over when the jockeying for underdog status started.

"I'm not declaring anyone an underdog," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff before doing exactly that. "If you want to be fair about what's going on in the playoffs, they have played the best hockey. We have stumbled around in a few games.

"I haven't seen them play a bad game."

There won't be any underdog here.

And there's won't be any surprises.

Everybody in Ottawa knows who Jason Pominville is now.


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