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Most goalies are students of technique. They talk about saves and rebounds, defensemen who hit and forwards who backcheck.

New Jersey's Martin Brodeur studies referees.

And Brodeur said Kerry Fraser made a difference in the Devils' 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

"Fraser did a good job," said the rookie goalie who carried the Devils to a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series. "Back there (in Buffalo, where Mick McGeough worked), they were knocking me around a bit, but (Fraser) was talking to a couple of the guys who were getting in my face. This time when everyone was coming around, he talked them out of it.

"It makes a difference when he has control of the game like that."

It also makes a difference when the horseshoe falls squarely around the pipe. Even if you fell on your butt when you tossed it.

Brodeur didn't even try to hide the fact that the save of the game -- on Sabres winger Alex Mogilny from directly in front of the net in the second period -- was a Hall of Fame stroke of good fortune.

"It hit my glove," Brodeur said. "I think there was a turnover in our end, and (Yuri) Khmylev got it along the boards and threw it to Mogilny in front. I thought he was going to one-time it, but he stopped it. He went up and I went down, and it just hit my glove."

Mogilny shook his head. He was still shaking it after the game.

"What can you say? I thought it was in," he said. "He was down, and I don't think he even saw it."

Most of the Sabres saw that as the turning point. If that shot goes in, the Sabres lead, 4-2, and probably take command of the game. Others saw Stephane Richer's tying goal as the pivotal point, but Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek went back to a point even before those two plays. He thought New Jersey's fortunes turned on Claude Lemieux's first goal.

The Sabres led, 3-1, midway through the second period when Lemieux curled around in the Sabres zone and let fly with a blind, backhanded shot that Hasek never saw.

"That one, I thought, turned the game," he said.

"There was a crowd in front, and I couldn't come out. I knew he was out there, but I couldn't see it and I couldn't go out to look. Too many people.

"I thought if that one doesn't go in, maybe they don't come back."

Hasek thought he had enough of Richer's shot late in the second period, but the puck hit high off his shoulder and carried into the net.

Hasek said he went for the poke check on Lemieux's second goal, which put the Devils up, 4-3, but the crafty forward held on long enough to step around him and tuck it between his skate and the goal post, an area not much wider than the puck itself.

All in all, this was not Hasek's best performance for the Sabres, but then most people were saying the same thing about Brodeur just two nights ago in Buffalo. Both goalies turned in early games that were brilliant, and each now has had one in which he wasn't the best player on the ice.

How will it go Wednesday?

"We'll come back from this," Hasek said. "We didn't win this one, so we have to win the next one. We've done that before."

Only this time he's the one who might not get another chance.

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