Don't count out Sabres quite yet

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

It took the Senators but nine seconds -- nothing more than the time it takes to draw a couple of deep breaths -- to see just about all the breathing room they owned evaporate last night.

That's the playoffs, huh?

Let's be clear. They are still nicely in control, up 3-1 in the Eastern Conference final, heading back to Buffalo for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.

In the history of pro sports, teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit, the Sabres' position going into last night, three times or about 1.1% of the time.

The odds are still overwhelmingly on the Senators' side.

But the reality now is this: They don't want to be coming back here for Game 6 on Monday.

That would mean they had surrendered all the momentum to the Sabres, who got at least one hand on it last night with their 3-2 win at Scotiabank Place.

"In my mind, I knew we were going to win," said Sabres centre Derek Roy, the Clarence-Rockland kid who ignited the Sabres bench with his goal nine seconds into the game. "The atmosphere was great, not just before the game, but at practice in the morning. Just looking at everybody, there was a fire in their eyes I hadn't seen before in the playoffs."

Buffalo co-captain Chris Drury sensed a change, too.

"At some point (Tuesday), if not the weight of the world, some weight was lifted off our shoulders,'' he said. ''It was as loose as we've been in a while."

Drury made the play to set up Roy for that first goal, jumping on the kind of break the Sabres had been denied for the first three games of the series.

Senators defenceman Andrej Meszaros turned the puck over off Roy's skate and it went to Drury. With the rest of the Senators heading up ice, Drury snapped the puck to Roy, completely alone to the left of Emery, and he angled his stick -- it was a goal-scorer's move -- chipping the puck into the top of the net.

Finally, the Sabres could say, they had caught a break. It seemed at that moment that three games' worth of frustration fell away.

"It uplifted the bench," said defenceman Brian Campbell.

The danger for the Senators is this isn't an upstart eighth-seed they had under their heel going into Game 4. It was the NHL's best regular-season team.

The Sabres, though they have not played like it this spring, are the Presidents' Trophy winners.

They played their best game of the series last night and maybe their best since the opening round against the New York Islanders.

They withstood a Senators' flurry late in the second which got Ottawa to within a goal.

The Buffalo power play came to life with its first goal of the series.

The Sabres killed off three straight minors in the first period, not allowing the Senators a shot on goal and leaving Ottawa 0-for-5 on the night and 0-for-12 in the last two games.

While it took a 5-on-3 for them to do it, the Sabres broke through with their first power-play goal of the series, ending an 0-for-18 drought. It came early in the second with Chris Neil (tripping) and Dean McAmmond (high-sticking) in the box.

Finally, the Sabres were winning the special teams battle.

BIG LINE SHUT DOWN

Also significant -- the Sabres held the Senators' big line pointless for the first time in these playoffs.

Drury, looking like a difference maker, snuck one under Emery's right arm -- that's a familiar one, huh? -- to make it 3-0 before the Senators started to exhibit a little urgency.

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said he could sense a change in the Senators' mood.

"They were getting a little chippy and angry at the end of the game," he said. "That's the way we were. That's good for us."

So the Sabres live to fight another day, at home.

"The way we're looking at it, there's two choices: Curl up and cry about it and go home or we can fight like dogs," Drury said between Games 3 and 4.

It's clear what choice the Sabres made last night. The Senators better put these dogs down before their bite gets worse.


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