Matthew Barnaby recorded his first career hat trick to lead the surging Buffalo Sabres to a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.
Barnaby, who also had an assist along with his three goals, broke a 3-3 tie with a goal late in the second period and broke the game open 13 seconds into the third to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.The Sabres have not had a 2-0 series lead in the second round of the playoffs since 1980, which also was the last time they reached the conference finals. Game 3 will be played Tuesday night in Montreal.
The Sabres won their fifth straight playoff game going back to Game 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.
Barnaby, known more for being an agitator than a goal scorer, now has four goals in seven playoff games. He would have had four goals against Montreal had he converted a breakaway in the third period. All this from a guy who scored five goals in 72 games during the regular season.
Michal Grosek had a goal and two assists and set up Barnaby's second goal with a cross-ice pass that gave the Sabres a 5-3 lead seconds after the third-period faceoff. Barnaby grabbed the puck just outside the blue line and beat Andy Moog with a wrist shot to the short side.
With 1:33 left in the second period, Barnaby caught the Canadiens sleeping in their own end and gave Buffalo the lead for good.
Barnaby had the puck behind the Montreal net before breaking in front and sending a backhander between Moog's legs. His third goal went into an empty net in the final minute.
Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek, who made 46 saves and led Buffalo to its 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1, allowed three goals on the first 15 shots he faced. Moog allowed four goals on Buffalo's first 20 shots and left early in the third period after Sabres forward Vaclav Varada was tripped up and crashed into the net.
Dixon Ward and Donald Audette had the other Buffalo goals.
Mark Recchi had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens. Montreal defensemen Igor Ulanov and Vladimir Malakhov each scored on slap shots from the point to keep the Canadiens in the game in the first two periods.
RED WINGS 6, BLUES 1: At Detroit, the Detroit Red Wings rediscovered their "A" game just in time to hand the St. Louis Blues their first playoff loss and even their Western Conference series at one game apiece.
Martin Lapointe, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Steve Yzerman, Larry Murphy and Kirk Maltby scored for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Terry Yake scored for the Blues, who swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and defeated Detroit 4-2 in the opener.
The best-of-7 semifinal series moves to St. Louis for games Tuesday and Thursday nights, then returns to Detroit for Game 5 next Sunday.
Detroit outshot the Blues 34-25.