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HASEK CARRIES SABRES ONCE AGAIN

CALGARY -- When Dominik Hasek is on top of his game, the Buffalo Sabres don't need much offense to win.

Ask the Calgary Flames.

"That's our plan -- get one in and hang on," Donald Audette said with a big smile.

Hasek recorded his 11th shutout of the season as the Sabres defeated the Flames, 2-0, Tuesday night before 16,296 in the Canadian Airlines Saddledome. Buffalo has alternated wins and losses in its last seven games.

Whenever Hasek takes the ice these days, league historians start consulting with the record books. No goalie has had as many as 11 shutouts in a season since 1974-75, when Bernie Parent had 12 for the Philadelphia Flyers.

"This is a big year for goalies," said Hasek, who had 29 saves. "Many teams are playing much more defensively than six or seven years ago when I first came into the league. Many goalies have seven, eight shutouts. But 11 is a good number."

"And it could have been at least 13," noted Audette when considering the fact that Hasek has allowed only a single goal in 12 other games this season and lost a shutout against San Jose with 19 seconds left on March 12.

The modern (post-1967 expansion) record for shutouts in a season is 15, set by Tony Esposito of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1969-70.

"That (15 shutouts) is not my goal," Hasek said. "We have 13 games left. Four shutouts in 13 games is not impossible, but my goal is to win games."

Hasek received all the offensive help he needed from Audette, who got the game-winner only 11 seconds into the third period. Buffalo won the face-off at the start of the period and shot the puck into the Calgary zone. Audette and Geoff Sanderson chased it behind the Flames' net, and somehow Audette knocked it into the net for his 19th.

"It was a good forecheck by Geoff," Audette said. "He was all over the guy and the puck got kicked to me. I don't understand how it went in. I just sort of shoveled it. It was a lucky bounce."

The game had virtually no drama up to that point, but it had plenty the rest of the way. Calgary had some very good scoring opportunities in the final 20 minutes but couldn't beat Hasek.

The all-star goalie usually can stop any shot he sees, but on Tuesday he even kept a puck out of the net with his head. A Joel Bouchard shot from the left point went through traffic and bounced off Hasek's mask. It left a cut above the goalie's temple that required three stitches after the game.

"I was dizzy for a few seconds," Hasek said. "If I don't see the puck I try to block as much of the net as I can."

The Sabres' goalie also was lucky with about three minutes left when Valeri Bure knocked a puck that was behind Hasek out of the air. The
Flames' winger didn't get a good piece of it and Hasek reached back to snatch it just before it crossed the goal line.

"He just hit a soft shot," Hasek said. "I was looking for the puck. I reached back to get it. He could have scored but he didn't shoot hard enough."

The Sabres killed off the remaining minutes, and Curtis Brown ended the suspense with an empty-net goal with 45 seconds left. The win finished off an eventful day for the Sabres, who in the morning acquired forward Paul Kruse and defenseman Jason Holland from the New York Islanders in exchange for winger Jason Dawe. Kruse was in Vancouver at the time of the trade, so he flew to Calgary in the afternoon and suited up for the Sabres at night.

"It was only an hour flight. I didn't have much to eat or get much sleep today, though," Kruse said after the game.

"I thought he did fine," coach Lindy Ruff said about Kruse's play. "At times that was the only line (Kruse, Wayne Primeau and Rob Ray) creating anything. They got in there and banged. We need a line like that."

Kruse wore No. 29 in the game but will switch to 24 when the team returns to Buffalo. After the game, Kruse headed right back to Vancouver with his new teammates as the Sabres flew to British Columbia for their next game. They will play the Canucks in Vancouver on Thursday night.

Buffalo finished with 21 shots on goal. The game featured only four power plays, three by Calgary.

Buffalo's scratches were Mike Wilson, Michal Grosek, Rumun Ndur and Vaclav Varada.

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