Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 1, 2006

SABRES: Tim Connolly is giving captain-like performance

Sabres head back to Philly with 3-2 series edge.

David Blaine’s got nothing on Tim Connolly.

Like a street magician, Connolly knifed his way through the heart of the Philadelphia defense in the opening period of Sunday’s fifth game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The Sabres center zigged, and Flyers forward Sami Kapanen zagged.

Then, after pulling the puck around like he was teasing a cat, Connolly smoothly deposited it in the top right corner, just over the glove of Philly goalie Robert Esche.

It was all the scoring the Sabres would need in a 3-0 victory that put Buffalo back ahead in the series.

As if the dramatic goal wasn’t enough, Connolly started a play at the end of the second period, earning the second assist on J.P. Dumont’s power-play tally.

It’s almost enough to make you say things you never thought you’d say — like could he some day be captain Tim Connolly? Sure Chris Drury wears the C, but Connolly has made a compelling case as the heart and soul of the Sabres, a guy who seems to score big goals and even scares the opposition with his uncanny playmaking abilities.

Connolly knew why the Flyers laid off of him, but he made the right adjustments.

“I was looking to pass it to one side or the other and I think they knew that,” he said. “I think a lot of teams know that when I get over the blue line I’m looking to pass the puck. And I am.”

The Flyers have a superstar in Peter Forsberg, someone who breaks open tight games and scores even though teams are plotting to stop him.

Connolly, who’s only trailing Forsberg in playoff scoring by a single point, is doing the same.

Not bad for a guy many assumed wouldn’t make it back onto the Sabres roster with a salary that eclipses $1million.

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