Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 26, 2006

NHL: Sabres fall flat in 4-0 loss

Carolina's Gerber stops 22 shots as series evens up at two

BUFFALO — No fan was in his seat at the end of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday — every fan in HSBC Arena was on his feet in anxious anticipation as Buffalo clung to a 4-3 win.

The seats again weren’t being used in the waning minues of Game 4 on Friday, but this time it was because most of the sold out crowd was already out the door.

The Sabres gave fans little cheer about in a 4-0 loss that was a stark departure from the tight, one-goal games the series had previously produced. The best-of-seven series is tied at two heading back to Raleigh for Sunday’s Game Five.

“We played a good game, we just have to be a little sharper,” defenseman Jay McKee said.

Carolina may have dominated the scoreboard, but its forwards didn’t dominate play like they had for stretches of the previous three games. The Sabres outshot the Hurricanes 22-21.

Still, there wasn’t much checking or intensity from either team. Carolina got most of its scoring out of the way in the game’s first 23 minutes and coasted the rest of the way behind the strong play of resurgent goaltender Martin Gerber.

The Sabres ran into the most certain roadblock to a Stanley Cup — a hot opposing goaltender.

Gerber didn’t face a lot of shots, but he looked unbeatable. A spectacular save on J.P. Dumont in the first period portended that Gerber was going to continue his strong play after replacing Cam Ward in the second period of Game Three.

Gerber hasn’t allowed a goal in more than four periods.

All season, holes in the Sabres lineup seemed to plug themselves. Injuries were simply an opportunity for someone else to shine. It wouldn’t be too outlandish to think the cotton candy vendor had a hat trick at some point this season.

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