Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery turned aside the questions, the chanting Buffalo crowd, and, most importantly, the Sabres' potent offense to ensure the top-seeded Senators wouldn't go down with a whimper.
The rookie stopped 29 shots, and Wade Redden's third-period power-play goal was the difference in a 2-1 win over the Sabres last night that cut Buffalo's lead to 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Senators avoided elimination by shaking off the frustrations of a 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo the previous night, and beat the Sabres in a playoff game for the first time since April 25, 1997, to end a nine-game skid.
And Emery finally has a victory in a series in which he's been faulted for his team's plight, particularly after allowing seven goals on 23 shots in a 7-6 overtime loss in Game 1.
''I was motivated by the fact that I wasn't happy with my play in this series and felt accountable to the guys," Emery said. ''That's enough motivation to want to play well."
Emery foiled three of Ales Kotalik's shots from the slot, including one with eight minutes left. He also got a glove on Maxim Afinogenov's backhander from in close with three minutes left, and stopped J.P. Dumont -- who scored the Game 3 winner -- with a glove save with 70 seconds left.
''He was my star," Senators coach Bryan Murray said.
Brian Pothier also scored for the Senators, who are making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance but attempting to advance to the conference finals for only the second time.
Daniel Briere scored for Buffalo, which had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time in five home playoff games.
The best-of-seven-series shifts to Ottawa for Game 5 tomorrow.
Mighty Ducks 4, Avalanche 1 -- Anaheim's stingy defense and a red-hot rookie goaltender are headed to the Western Conference finals after completing a sweep of host Colorado.
Todd Marchant, Teemu Selanne, and Dustin Penner scored following breakdowns by Avalanche defenseman Patrice Brisebois, and 25-year-old Russian rookie Ilya Bryzgalov was again brilliant in goal for the Ducks, who are moving on to the conference finals for the second time in three seasons.
Bryzgalov stopped 40 shots, capping a dazzling series that included two victories on the road after his shutout streak was snapped at three games and just shy of 250 minutes, the longest by a rookie and second best in NHL playoff history.
Anaheim, which stifled Colorado's Joe Sakic, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, and Andrew Brunette, handed the Avalanche their first sweep in 26 playoff series since arriving from Quebec before the 1995-96 season.