Sabres 2, Senators 1


OTTAWA (AP) – 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 on Monday night.

Buffalo won both opening 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 allowing six goals on 33 shots Friday. He won his third win 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 postseason 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 Wednesday 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 due to 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 co-captain Daniel Briere, who missed both weekend practices with an undisclosed illness, deked Emery to the ice on a 2-on-1 before passing to Dumont. He shot the puck into a wide-open net.

Hecht scored his first playoff goal when he put the puck through 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.

Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov had to be helped off the ice 5:11 into the third when his head hit the boards after he checked Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad in front of Ottawa’s bench. The players appeared to make contact with their heads during the initial collision. Gaustad went to the Sabres dressing room, though he later returned.

Notes: There is no off day between Games 3 and 4 in Buffalo. … Connolly scored twice Friday, including the tying goal with 10.7 seconds remaining in regulation. He had five goals and six assists in Buffalo’s first seven playoff games. … Senators D Brian Pothier returned to the lineup.

AP-ES-05-08-06 2155EDT