Niagara Gazette

Sports

May 15, 2006

TIM SCHMITT: Why wouldn’t Jason score?

OTTAWA — The question shouldn’t have been why, if you ask Daniel Briere, it should have been why not?

Why wouldn’t a kid who started the season lacing up his skates in the dressing room at Blue Cross Arena score the overtime winner in mighty Ottawa’s rink, using a breathtaking end-to-end rush to knock out the top seed in the Eastern Conference?

And more importantly, why wouldn’t Jason Pominville be on the ice when the Sabres were a man down in overtime of an elimination playoff game?

“It’s been like that all year,” Briere said after a quick gloat, noting that he grew up just a few miles from Scotiabank Place. “I’m not surprised because we’ve seen it all year. It’s the way it works here.”

The way it works is that players play — regardless of their history. If Pominville is working hard, he plays, even if it means a veteran needs to sit. If Paul Gaustad is banging the boards and churning through his shifts, he’s going to see the ice even if he doesn’t light the lamp. And if Thomas Vanek isn’t working, even though he was a high draft choice with skill, he’s relegated to the press box, like he was in Games 3 and 4.

It didn’t surprise Briere that Pominville was on the ice — and it didn’t surprise the Sabres that they’ve been able to slay a behemoth that didn’t realize it was getting boulders thrown its way through the season’s first four months.

The Sabres might have been geared up for Ottawa, but nobody in Scotiabank Place noticed.

“I don’t think a lot of people thought we could win this series,” Pominville said after the win. Then he matter-of-factly described the biggest Sabres’ goal in five years.

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