Another No Goal...
The next year’s playoff run against the hated Flyers brought about another controversy. In game two, Flyers' winger John LeClair put the puck in the net through a hole in the mesh. While replays clearly showed the puck going in through the side of the net, the goal was allowed to stand. The Flyers would win that game 2–1 and go on to win the series 4–1. Another hot poker to the eye of the Buffalo fan.
Shafted yet again
Two years after No Goal, the Sabres were within 78 seconds of eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six of the Conference Finals. But Mario Lemieux somehow found a puck that went five-stories airborne to the left of Hasek and batted it in to tie the game. The Sabres later lost the game in overtime. Game seven, back at Buffalo, was a tight game. Again, the Sabres went to OT.
Darius Kasparaitis, a scrapper who scored only three goals in the regular season, took a floater of a shot from the top left face-off circle and beat Hasek just inside the post. It was the last goal Hasek would allow in a Sabres uniform. A fluke of a goal that casts shadows on an otherwise breathtaking career. His disreputable exit out of Buffalo – accused of sexing up the coach’s wife and demanding to be traded to a team that could win it all (and they did, care of the Detroit Red Wings), married that season’s summer.
Out of the lockout comes hope
Out of the ashes, the 2005 - 2006 Buffalo Sabres squad seemed destined for it all. Taking advantage of new NHL rules that limited obstruction, the Sabres raced to a hot start, had an exhilarating year and a post-season that was even more stirring. Who can forget Danny Briere’s game one double OT winner against the Flyers? Or the 7-6 game against the Senators in round two?
In the Conference Finals, the Sabres forced a game seven against the Carolina Hurricanes. But fate would have its way with Buffalo again. The Sabres went into game seven absent three of their starting defenseman and then lost D-man Jay McKee to an infection of the leg. What the heck kind of injury was this? Was McKee traipsing through Everglades swamplands with hickies on his legs?
It was too much for the Sabres to overcome. The Hurricanes won game seven and went on to capture a Stanley Cup that many felt – and still feel – belonged to Buffalo.
The following year, the Sabres dominated. We wanted the Cup; we expected the Cup. But again we had our hearts ripped out and urinated on, this time by the Ottawa Senators after five games into the Conference Finals. The winning goal was scored in the first overtime by Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson. Coincidentally, Jason Pominville had beaten Alfredsson to score the clinching overtime goal over Ottawa in game five of the previous year's Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Payback.
Since then, the Sabres have been out of the #Playoffs seven of the last nine years. Archaic coach Lindy Ruff was let go, as was longtime GM Darcy Regier. Things are looking up though, under new coach Dan Bylsma and superstar Jack Eichel. But then again, hope springs eternal.
Some say the Buffalo sport’s teams are cursed or jinxed. There is even a website devoted to this notion. Not true, but it’s an easy argument to make, considering the above. As fans of the Bills and Sabres, we will persevere, continuing to live and die with every goal and every touchdown, every field goal that sails just outside of the mark and every puck that bounces off two skates and a soft pretzel and finds its way into our net.
We wear our hearts on our sleeves, awaiting another team to come wipe their big noses on us. But my friends, one day we will have a championship team, and as the banner is raised to the roof, it will make all the anguish and all the despair float away with it. #Sports Highlights #NFL