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NHL PLAYOFFS ROUNDUP

Sabres take command

Buffalo stifles Ottawa offense

The Buffalo Sabres are headed home with a big lead over the Ottawa Senators.

J.P. Dumont and Jochen Hecht scored goals 2:27 apart in the second period and Ryan Miller made 43 saves to lead the Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Senators last night in Ottawa. Buffalo won both games in Ottawa to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Dumont scored his fifth of the playoffs 3:33 into the second, and Hecht added a breakaway goal moments later in his return to the lineup after missing three games, including Friday's wild 7-6 overtime win in Game 1.

Miller, who has started each of the Sabres' eight playoff games, rebounded from surrendering six goals on 33 shots Friday. He won his third in a row, improving to 6-2 overall.

Chris Phillips netted the only goal for the top-seeded Senators, who have dropped eight straight playoff games to the Sabres dating to 1997.

The Senators scored an NHL-high 314 goals this season but it isn't helping so far against Buffalo, which has won three straight road games after losing two in Philadelphia during the first round.

Jason Spezza came close to tying it 17:22 into the third. The Senators center put the puck between Miller's legs but it struck the goalie's left pad and stopped just short of crossing the goal line as defenseman Henrik Tallinder reached back to help cover up.

After Ottawa failed to score on a last-ditch flurry during a power play the sellout crowd showed its displeasure by popping Thunderstix when the final horn sounded. It creating a symphony of explosions throughout the quickly emptying arena as Buffalo celebrated its second one-goal win in the series.

Rookie Ray Emery made 15 saves as the Senators limited Buffalo's shots for the second straight game. Emery was beaten for all seven goals in Game 1 despite facing only 23 shots.

Game 3 will be played tomorrow in Buffalo.

Ottawa outshot Buffalo, 12-9, through a scoreless first period that saw the Sabres lose Tim Connolly in the first minute.

Connolly was leveled by a clean, open-ice check from Senators forward Peter Schaefer. Leading with his left shoulder, Schaefer drove into the Sabres center, who had his head down as he was turning right while carrying the puck through the neutral zone toward Ottawa's blue line. The hit knocked Connolly flat to the ice and play was stopped at the 58-second mark.

Connolly, who missed the entire 2003-04 season because of post-concussion syndrome, laid on his back while Schaefer hobbled around, trying to shake off the effects of the solid collision.

Schaefer remained in the game but Connolly was helped off the ice. The Sabres said he had an upper body injury and wouldn't return.

Dumont opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the playoffs 3:33 into the second. Sabres cocaptain Daniel Briere, who missed both weekend practices because of an undisclosed illness, deked Emery to the ice on a two-on-one before passing to Dumont. He shot the puck into a wide-open net.

Hecht scored his first playoff goal when he put the puck between Emery's pads on a breakaway at 6:00 to put the Sabres up, 2-0. He had been sidelined by an undisclosed upper-body injury since April 28 after he exchanged checks with Philadelphia's Peter Forsberg during Game 4 of the Sabres' first-round win.

Hurricanes 3, Devils 2 -- The never-give-up Carolina Hurricanes did it again, forcing overtime in the waning seconds before a lucky bounce gave them another victory. Poor Martin Brodeur.

Niclas Wallin had the puck knocked off his stick during a rush early in the extra period, but it bounced off his skate through Brodeur's legs at 3:09 to help the host Hurricanes beat New Jersey and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

A video review upheld Wallin's first goal of the playoffs.

In the opener, neither of Carolina's first two goals were actual shots on net, with deflections pushing the puck over the line. It helped lead to a 6-0 rout for the home team, the worst playoff loss of Brodeur's famed career, and he and teammates promised a better effort in Game 2.

They gave it, but it still wasn't enough stop the Hurricanes, who have handed New Jersey consecutive losses after the Devils' record-tying 15-game winning streak that began in the regular season and continued through a four-game playoff sweep of the New York Rangers.

Carolina and young goalie Cam Ward have won six in a row after the Hurricanes dropped their first two playoff games to Montreal in the opening round with Martin Gerber in the nets.

New Jersey appeared on its way to a victory in regulation when Scott Gomez deflected in a shot from Zach Parise with 20 seconds remaining. Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore, who was stride-for-stride with Gomez, also got his stick on the puck before it skittered by Ward for a 2-1 lead.

The Devils hardly had completed their celebration when the Hurricanes tied it again, when Eric Staal took a nifty backhanded pass from Justin Williams to beat Brodeur with only 3 seconds on the clock.

Brodeur fell to 8-19 in playoff overtime games during his career.

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