Preseason isn't always about young guys competing for a spot on the team. Sometimes it's about veterans trying to show they can maintain past glory. The Buffalo Sabres had no problem dispatching a few of the old guys Tuesday. They get another chance to do it tonight, only this time the veteran will look very familiar.
The Sabres continued their impressive preseason run, using four power-play goals to bury Ed Belfour and the aging Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2, in the Air Canada Centre. The victory moved the Sabres to 5-1.
"We just want to keep our success going in the preseason and continue it in the regular season," Sabres center Paul Gaustad said. "Everyone's on board, and it's been a fun training camp."
The Sabres return to action at 7 tonight, hosting the Ottawa Senators in HSBC Arena (Radio 550 AM, MSG). The Senators are planning to use former Sa
bres All-Star goalie Dominik Hasek for the entire game. The Sabres said plenty of seats are still available.
"Dom's a tremendous competitor, and I'm sure he's going to want to play as good as he possibly can," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think that's an excellent test for us. Our players should welcome the test, and that really tells us where we're at."
There's exactly one week until the regular season begins, and while the Sabres seem to have a handle on how the new anti-obstruction rules work, the Leafs have a long way to go. Their inability to stay out of the penalty box cost them any chance to win, to the dismay of an announced crowd of 18,831.
The Sabres scored three power-play goals in the second period, tearing apart a game that had been knotted, 1-1, after the opening 20 minutes. Of the eight power plays handed out in the second period, the Sabres were the beneficiaries of six of them.
"I think our speed up front, every now and then we got a good step on them, and they took some that you really don't like being called, but they're penalties now," Ruff said. "It's something that we call throughout our practices. We don't allow it in any drill, we don't allow any player to do it, and if it happens we blow it down."
Chris Drury, Jason Pominville, Gaustad and Daniel Briere scored for the Sabres with the man-advantage, while Taylor Pyatt closed the scoring with the game's only even-strength tally.
"The main thing is just moving the puck around," Pominville said of the power-play success. "We had our opportunities before but we just didn't bury it."
Ryan Miller continued his strong preseason and push for the No. 1 goaltending job. He made 34 saves, while the Sabres took 37 shots on Belfour.
"I'm happy with my game and how it's coming along," Miller said. "But obviously it's preseason still. I've learned this in the past, preseason games are way different than regular-season games. I have to continue to make strides."
With enforcer Andrew Peters sidelined with a strained triceps, the Sabres recalled Sean McMorrow from Rochester's camp. He fought Nathan Perrott early, then had the best breakaway during a postgame shootout exhibition in which Toronto's Tie Domi was the only one of 14 shooters to score.
"I was actually happy Domi scored," said Ruff, whose team went 11 rounds with Tampa Bay on Sunday. "I didn't want to see Miller get hurt, and I didn't want to see him make any more saves."
There was no debate in Ottawa's camp whether to use Hasek in Buffalo, where he has played only once since leaving town after the 2001 playoffs. (He lost, 5-1, as a member of the Detroit Red Wings on March 10, 2002.) Hasek has played only twice so far this preseason, and the 40-year-old faced just 10 shots against Toronto on Monday.
Hasek has said he wants as much work as possible before the season because he's played only 14 games in the last three years.
"I know that he likes the work we're giving him at the moment," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "That's been good for him."