Sabres' Hasek's Status Uncertain
Sabres' Hasek's Status Uncertain
May. 24, 1999
TORONTO (AP) _ Dominik Hasek wasn't talking Monday about the injury that has sidelined him in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that was because he was out of town getting tested.
And so the mystery swirling around the Buffalo Sabres' magnificent goalie continued as the team prepared for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night.
Will he or won't he play? Only the Dominator could answer that. His coach couldn't.
``We're trying to do everything we can,'' Lindy Ruff said after practice Monday at Air Canada Centre. ``Our whole focus is on the series and getting him back. We're trying to find a way to get him to play.''
Hasek, bothered by a relapse of a chronic groin problem he's had since February, had a bone scan and MRI Sunday night in Buffalo after the Sabres beat Toronto 5-4 in Game 1. Journeyman goalie Dwayne Roloson, who grew up in nearby Simcoe, Ontario, made 28 saves in the first playoff start of his unremarkable career to help the Sabres steal home-ice advantage.
It was the third straight series the Leafs had opened with a loss at home, and that, not Hasek, was on their collective minds. They rebounded to eliminate Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds, and now they have to repeat that magic again.
``We know that we're behind the 8-ball,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. ``We also know that we haven't been down two games (in a series), and it's not an inviting proposition.''
``You don't want to spot 'em one,'' said Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph, who was victimized for five goals on 21 shots by the opportunistic Sabres. ``Not that we did, they played well. But in our minds you don't want to test fate too often. We've gone down three series in a row here. Let's hope history repeats itself and we're able to come back. It's just one game.''
Although the Sabres took some bad penalties and allowed three power-play goals, they scored three times off turnovers by the generous Leafs.
The nine goals and free-wheeling action were something of an aberration for the playoffs, which normally are tight-checking, low-scoring games. Both teams expected Game 2 to revert to form.
``I don't know if it'll be as run-and-gun as the first game,'' Toronto wing Garry Valk said. ``I can't see it being as high-scoring. We've just got to come back harder, backcheck harder and play better in our end.
``We generated enough chances to win that game. For us, it was more defense lapses. Whenever you score four goals in the playoffs, that should be enough to win. We had chances to score seven or eight.''
But they didn't, because of Roloson's steady play and some good fortune. Roloson poke-checked the puck off Sergei Berezin's stick on a dangerous breakaway, stopped a rising backhander by Mats Sundin from in close, and watched Lonny Bohonos take a perfect feed in front of the goal by Sundin and clang his shot hard off the left goalpost with the Leafs trailing 4-3 midway through the third period.
``Roloson played well,'' Valk said. ``He had a lot of pressure on him with Hasek out and he came through for them. You can't forget what he did.''
Although Ruff hinted there was a possibility his all-star goalie could return for Tuesday night's game, just the mention of it seemed more like he was playing a mind game than envisioning Hasek in goal for a real game.
Roloson shrugged it all off.
``Nobody knows what's going on,'' said Roloson, who was signed by the Sabres as a free agent last summer after playing in Calgary for parts of two seasons. ``I'll make sure I'm ready ...''