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Sabres Win Without Hasek


Dominik who?

Buffalo Sabres rookie Martin Biron filled Dominik Hasek's locker with his stuff after filling the world-famous goaltender's net in a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday night.

Biron recorded his first NHL win and Michael Peca scored the winning goal on a power play as the Sabres snapped a three-game winless streak against the Stars.

Making only his third career start and first since 1995, the 21-year-old Biron made 26 saves in his second complete NHL game and sixth appearance in the league.

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  • "He played tremendous for us," Peca said. "He made saves at times when we gave up opportunities. He kept us in it."

    Biron received plenty of applause in place of injured Hasek, including quite a bit from the fans. But Stars coach Ken Hitchcock paid Biron the ultimate compliment.

    "He looked like an NHL goaltender," Hitchcock said. "He was solid. He's the goaltender of the future and he played well."

    Wayne Primeau also scored for the Sabres, who stopped goalie Ed Belfour's eight-game unbeaten string.

    Joe Nieuwendyk extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a goal for Dallas, which had gone undefeated in its previous 10 road games (8-0-2).

    Biron, whose opportunity came while Hasek continued to recover from a strained groin that has sidelined the superstar for seven games, made a big save with five minutes to play when he got the tip of his stick on a puck batted at the goal by Nieuwendyk.

    On another ccasion in the third, Biron snagged a deflected shot from the left point.

    "The guy tipped it on the ice and it bounced in my glove," Biron said. "I looked in my glove to make sure it was really there."

    Biron's teammates helped scatter the rookie's butterflies.

    "The guys in the dressing room made me feel relaxed when they started joking around," Biron said. "They were talking to me a lot."

    Biron became the fourth youngest goalie to appear in an NHL game at 18 years, 133 days when he made his first start for the Sabres on Dec. 26, 1995.

    Playing that night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the most potent offensive team in the league, Biron left the game after allowing four goals on 16 shots in the first period of an eventual 6-3 loss. He watched Steve Shields work the second, then came back and stopped all eight shots in the third.

    The next night he played the entire game and made 30 saves in a 4-3 loss to Ottawa.

    Facing the league's best team in Dallas, Biron stopped all but one of the 10 Dallas shots in the first period, which ended with the teams tied 1-1. He turned back all five shots he faced in the second, and made 12 saves in the third.

    "He stumbled a little bit, but he played well," Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk said.

    Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Biron had earned at least one more start. With Hasek's prognosis unclear, that could come Sunday against the Flyers.

    "He played a very good game," Ruff said. "It looked at times like he was a little nervous. He made some real nice plays out of the net and some real nice saves in the net."

    Buffalo took the lead on Primeau's unassisted goal in the first period. Primeau picked off Matvichuk's errant pass inside the Dallas blue line and fired the puck in between Belfour's pads at 11:26.

    Nieuwendyk tied the game with just over a minute to play in the period. Sabres defenseman Jay McKee misfired on a pass in front of the goal, and the Stars swarmed around Biron. Jere Lehtinen tapped the puck behind the goal and Pat Verbeek passed to Nieuwendyk, whose shot went in off McKee's glove.

    The Sabres went into the game having scored one goal in their last 57 power plays but took a 2-1 lead seconds after Pat Verbeek went to the box for roughing. Peca scored his 25th goal, putting in the rebound of a shot by Alexei Zhitnik.

    "Everyone wants to beat us," Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher said. "That's what happens when you're on top of the league."

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