OTTAWA (AP) -- Other than Jason Pominville, nobody was happier or
quicker to celebrate his overtime goal than Jay McKee.
"I remember thinking, 'Oh man, he's got a chance here," said
McKee, who was in the penalty box when Pominville scored a
short-handed goal 2:26 into the extra period to give Buffalo a 3-2,
series-ending victory over Ottawa on Saturday night.
"I saw him get around on the outside and my eyes just widened,
and all of a sudden it was in and I got out of there as fast as I
could," McKee said. "I looked to my right and he was coming right
for me so I just gave him a big bear hug and we got clobbered by
the rest of the guys. It was a pretty neat feeling."
With McKee off for tripping Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
1:44 into the extra period, Pominville burst down the left side and
cut in front of goalie Ray Emery to tuck the puck past the rookie
and give Buffalo its third overtime winner of the series.
"I think we were the only people who thought we could win the
series," Pominville said. "We proved we are a good team and
hopefully we can keep going."
Ryan Miller made 34 saves for Buffalo, which won the
best-of-seven series 4-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference final
against the Carolina-New Jersey winner.
All five games were decided by one goal in the series that
featured a tie score or a one-goal lead for all but 1:40 of total
"It was definitely nerve-racking," Miller said. "I think we
handled it well by playing our own game."
Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder scored his first career
playoff goal 33 seconds in and co-captain Chris Drury added a
power-play goal 7:56 into the second to put Buffalo up 2-1.
Senators defenseman Brian Pothier scored for the second game in
a row on a power play at 13:59 of second to tie it at 2. Alfredsson
got his second goal of the playoffs -- his first of the series -- on
a 5-on-3 midway through the first.
"We really believed tonight," said Emery, who stopped 21
shots. "We were really confident coming in."
Buffalo, which finished fourth in the East, three points behind
conference top-seed Ottawa in the Northeast Division, will face
either No. 2 Carolina or No. 3 New Jersey in its first conference
final since 1999.
"Every game was tight," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Every
game could have gone either way. There wasn't a lot of relaxation
behind the bench so when that goal went in all that pent-up tension
was gone in about 30 seconds."
The Senators, who finished with 113 points and led the NHL with
314 goals, finished another disappointing postseason after building
up great expectations with a dominant regular-season performance to
reach the playoffs for the ninth straight season.
"We look at the two games we lost at home at the beginning of
the series and then we got down 3-0, that's a pretty big hill to
climb," defenseman Wade Redden said. "The hockey we played
against Tampa Bay, we didn't carry that over. We weren't skating as
well, we weren't playing as well together and you can't do that
when you're up against a team that is doing that, like Buffalo."
The usually quiet Scotiabank Place crowd began to chant "Let's
go, Senators!" in the third and Martin Havlat came close to
rewarding them when he drove a slap shot off the left post with
about 6 minutes left in the period.
Emery stopped Maxim Afinogenov's backhand with 3:54 remaining in
Senators rookie Patrick Eaves shot high and wide on a scoring
chance moments later. The rebound bounced off the glass and into
the Sabres' crease, where Tallinder reached down and swiped it
under himself as players from both teams converged in front of the
Buffalo had the only lead of more than one goal in the entire
series when it went up 2-0 in the second period of Game 2 on Jochen
Hecht's first goal of the playoffs.
Tallinder deflated the sellout crowd early when he beat Emery
over the right shoulder with a slap shot.
Ottawa didn't get its first shot until the game was nearly 5
minutes old, with Miller stopping Antoine Vermette's long slap
shot. Miller's second save was a little tougher as he gloved Peter
Schaefer's shot when the Senators' forward elected to shoot on a
2-on-1 moments later.
Alfredsson tied it with his second of the playoffs with 11
seconds left on a 5-on-3 after Rory Fitzpatrick was sent off for
Emery made a sensational pad save to rob Pominville in the
seventh minute of the second period. Left alone to the left of the
net, Pominville appeared to have a wide open left side as he took
Teppo Numminen's pass from the right boards but Emery kicked out
his right leg to stop the Sabres forward's shot.
Miller stopped Alfredsson's shot off a faceoff during Ottawa's
second 5-on-3 of the game in the second. Senators right wing Dany
Heatley had a chance at a wide open net off the rebound, but the
puck hopped over his stick.Game notes
Tallinder's goal was the fourth of the series less than a
minute into a period. ... Colorado was the last team to win two in
a row after losing the first three games of a playoff series. After
falling behind San Jose 3-0 in their 2004 Western Conference
semifinal, the Avalanche came back with consecutive wins over the
Sharks before losing Game 6.