Sens make Briere go poof

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

BUFFALO -- The Senators could have done a more complete job of shutting down Daniel Briere on Thursday night, but only by following him home and disconnecting his electricity.

"It was one of those games ... I barely touched the puck," the Sabres captain said yesterday. "Usually, I'm in control when things are happening for me, but the puck wasn't coming around except for maybe two or three shifts. I couldn't find the puck.

"I'm not happy with my game, but I've got to move on. I can't waste any more energy on it. I wasted enough (after the game Thursday night) going through it over and over."

Briere, whose 95 points led the Sabres in scoring during the regular season, is also the team's top playoff producer with 11 points.

But against Ottawa in Game 1, he didn't get a sniff.

Not only was he held off the scoresheet for the first time in the playoffs and just the 10th time in 94 games dating back to October, but the Gatineau native was a minus-2 and didn't register a shot on goal.

Through 11 games in the first two rounds, he led the team with 38 shots.

Briere also played just 15:33, down almost four minutes from his average ice time in the regular season.

There exists speculation he's playing hurt -- TV cameras caught him flexing his hand on the bench. Coach Lindy Ruff put the cutback down mostly to the fact he was matching lines and wanted the Chris Drury unit out against Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.

Briere, Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik were mostly up against Peter Schaefer, Mike Fisher and Mike Comrie.

TO BE PAIRED WITH POMINVILLE, HECHT

Ruff plans to start tonight's game shifting Briere back to his natural centre position and putting him with Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht.

"That (line) worked against the Rangers," said Ruff. "We'll put it back in the trunk, close the lid and see where it goes from there."

Briere, who only saw four minutes of power-play duty, was not complaining about his lack of ice time.

"Everybody has the same goal," he said. "Lindy's in charge and I'm 100% behind him. Whatever he decides, I'm going to go with. At this time of year, there's no real sense to waste time being frustrated about your ice time. I don't want to discuss that. It's Lindy's decision."

Asked what went wrong from a team perspective Thursday, Briere said "a lot of little things, lots of everything."


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