BUFFALO - The playoff curse has finally ended, but the Senators had to work overtime to do it.
The Senators fought back from a 2-0 first period deficit, then held off a last-minute comeback and halted their 0-8 winless streak after winning Game 1 of a playoff series last night to pull out to a commanding 2-0 lead in the East final with a 4-3 double-OT win over the top-ranked Buffalo Sabres.
Joe Corvo fired a shot that bounced over the top of Ryan Miller's glove from the point at 4:58 of the second OT to give the Senators the win after Jason Spezza won the faceoff.
Now, as the series shifts to Scotiabank Place for Game 3 tomorrow and Game 4 Wednesday, the Senators have the Sabres on the ropes on the strength of goals by Wade Redden, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher along with a solid performance from Ray Emery, who scored his first OT win in six attempts.
For only the third time in team history, the Senators have won both games on the road in a playoff series and the Sabres were 0-for-6 on the power play. Yes, it might be too early to think sweep, but it's fair to say that something special is happening here and suddenly Ottawa is only two wins away from its first trip to the Stanley Cup final.
Running starts here
The Senators looked like they were going to make this easy and slide out with a one, but Briere sent it to OT by firing the puck into an open net when Ottawa couldn't get it out with only six seconds left in the third.
With the Senators on 5-on-3 power play in the second, Redden gave his club a 3-2 lead heading into the third period by firing a blast by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller that he never had a chance on with 16 seconds left in the second.
No, the Senators didn't look good in the first period, but they weren't going to let the Sabres walk all over them and Fisher tied it up at 6:08 on the power play to erase a 2-0 lead Buffalo built up.
Emery wasn't having one of his best nights, but he found a way after being beaten by Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht in the first. He made a huge pad stop on Vanek trying to stuff it home on the power play late in the second.
Winger Oleg Saprykin, who scored the winner in Game 1, continued to make his impact felt by sweeping a puck out of the crease with help from Christoph Schubert's stick and that was going to beat Emery.
The Sabres came out storming out of the gate. They knew they couldn't afford to get down 2-0 in this series and they tried to served notice from the drop of the puck.
While Buffalo pulled out to a 2-1 lead in the first period, the Sabres could have easily had more, but their first goal on the first shot of the game was called back.
On a Buffalo power play, Derek Roy was banging away at the puck near the crease and it went off the glove of Vanek. A phone call to the war room in Toronto indicated it wasn't a goal after a long discussion.
"We're looking at every goal and this one, as the puck came across the net, Vanek was in the act of shooting and his hand came forward," said NHL official Kris King. "We looked hard at all angles and the puck was off the glove. (The rule) says you cannot direct the puck into the net with the glove."
That didn't stop the Sabres from storming. Emery wasn't sharp early and Vanek opened the scoring by beating Emery on the glove side at 3:41 as the building went hysterical.
Then, Emery gave up big rebound that Hecht was able to pick up to beat him on the glove side. Suddenly, for one of the few times in these playoffs, the Senators were facing adversity.
But, as lopsided as the first was in favour of the Sabres, Alfredsson gave everybody hope. He one-timed a pass from Dany Heatley by Miller on the glove side at 14:22 for his eighth of the playoffs.
Suddenly, this wasn't looking like a sure-fire victory for the Sabres.