Sens roll to Game 1 win

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

BUFFALO — Oleg Freakin’ Saprykin? Talk about an unlikely hero.

A fourth-liner, Saprykin raised his arms in the air and searched for someone to hug.

He had just scored the most important goal of the post-season for the Senators in a 5-2 Eastern Conference final win over the Sabres.

Saprykin, acquired at the trade deadline from Phoenix, deflected Dean McAmmond’s pass past Ryan Miller on the stick side at 7:41 of the third period. He couldn’t have picked a better time for his first goal of the playoffs.

While Saprykin’s effort was the winner, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and McAmmond also scored for the Senators, who lead a series 1-0 for the third straight time in these playoffs.

The Senators jumped into a 2-0 lead, quieting the boisterous crowd, but the Sabres tied it at 2-2.

With the Senators locked in the tie, Senators coach Bryan Murray said he had to get the fourth line of Saprykin, McAmmond and Christoph Schubert on the ice.

“I had to get them out there because of their energy and they were quick to the puck,” said Murray. “Their speed really showed up on that goal. It was a good play, Oleg went to the front of the net and he was able to get his stick on it. That’s all we ask: If people get to the net, they be available and we throw pucks in that area.”

“We were just trying to create chances,” said Saprykin. “It means a lot to get a goal like that because it means a lot to the team. To come in here and win Game 1, the way we did, that’s what is most important because we know Buffalo is a strong team.”

Ray Emery wasn’t tested a lot, but he came up with some highlight reel saves, including a pad stop on Tim Connolly in the third. Only Toni Lydman and Maxim Afinogenov were able to beat Emery.

The Senators have accomplished one goal by stealing a game here, but they can take a commanding 2-0 lead home with a victory in Game 2 tomorrow night.

While Emery made some solid stops, blueliner Anton Volchenkov may have made the save of the game by getting his glove on a shot by Daniel Briere in the final two minutes of the second with the score tied 2-2.

Spezza said the Senators’ next goal is to break an 0-8 playoff record after winning Game 1.

“Now we have a chance to steal two before we go home,” said Spezza. “We just have to get rid of those second-game blues. I know we’re going to talk about that all day (today), so maybe we can finally just shake it.”


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