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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The best vs. the best

   Mar. 23, 1996- Does hockey get any better than a one-on-one duel between Dominik Hasek and Mario Lemieux?

   Probably not. It was the highlight of a crazy game between the Sabres and Penguins in Pittsburgh. Here's how The News reported the game:

   Dominik Hasek stopped NHL scoring leader Mario Lemieux on a penalty shot in a wild third period, helping to spark the Buffalo Sabres past the Pittsburgh Penguins, 7-5, Saturday night in the Civic Arena.

   The Sabres blew a 4-1 lead as the Penguins scored five goals in the second period. Buffalo then stormed back in the third period, with Pat LaFontaine scoring the winner with 13:55 left. It was a startling performance for a team that had scored a total of five goals in losing its last four starts. But the Sabres did what was necessary to win, particularly in a dramatic 28-second span in the third period.

   With the score tied, 5-5, Lemieux was awarded a penalty shot at 5:37 when referee Rob Shick ruled that Hasek, on in place of starter Andrei Trefilov, had thrown his stick at the puck. Lemieux was 5 of 6 in his
career on penalty shots. However, his attempt to put the puck through Hasek's legs was
unsuccessful. It was one of Hasek's 22 saves on the night; he is 2 for 2 in stopping penalty
shots as a Sabre.

   "When Mario got the penalty shot, I thought to myself behind the bench that you couldn't ask for two better players going against each other," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "This time Dominik won."

   "Dominik came up huge for us," Sabre Randy Burridge said. "It was a big boost for us. I don't know if they let down."

--- Budd Bailey

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