Sabres rookie Pominville drawing attention

Updated: June 4, 2006, 12:37 AM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Message to Doug Weight: The name's Jason. Jason Pominville.

Pominville, the Buffalo Sabres rookie forward, is making a name for himself this postseason, although some opponents apparently haven't yet caught on.

Take Weight, the Carolina Hurricanes' veteran forward, for example as the teams prepare to play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final at Raleigh, N.C., on Thursday.

Weight was penalized for boarding when he hit Pominville from behind early into overtime of Game 6 on Tuesday. Buffalo's Daniel Briere scored on the ensuing power play for a 2-1 victory.

Weight accused Pominville of diving and said: "I don't even know his first name, for God's sake."

Not a problem for Pominville.

"It's actually kind of funny," he said Wednesday when told of Weight's comment.

"But he knows my last name because he hit me from behind," added Pominville with a laugh, referring to his last name stitched on the back of his No. 29 jersey.

Others have found out the hard way this postseason, with Pominville's emergence from a fourth-liner to a prominent two-way player.

Pominville leads all rookies with five goals and 10 points this postseason. His biggest goal came in Game 5 of Buffalo's second-round series against Ottawa, when he scored the series-clincher on a short-handed rush in overtime.

Now, with the Sabres roster suddenly depleted by injuries, Pominville is making the most of his added responsibilities. He's playing the point on the power play and last weekend was elevated to a regular spot on Buffalo's top line, centered by Briere.

How's that for a player whom the Sabres - handcuffed by a glutted roster - were forced to place on waivers before the start of the season, hoping no one would claim him.

No team did and, after a six-week stint in the minors, Pominville secured his future during his second chance in Buffalo with 18 goals and 12 assists in 57 games.

"It's just awesome," said Pominville, Buffalo's second-round pick in the 2001 draft. "I've come far and I'm happy to be where I am right now, enjoying every moment of it."

"He's been great," co-captain Chris Drury said. "What an addition after not being here in training camp. ... I really can't say enough good things about him and what he's brought to our team."

Pominville's performance on Tuesday was among his most best. Although he failed to score when set up in the slot, his shot stopped by goaltender Cam Ward, Pominville was on the ice for teammate J.P. Dumont's game-opening goal.

Pominville had almost 15 minutes of ice time and drew three other penalties besides the one on Weight.

Regarding Weight's accusation that he dived, Pominville said he didn't see the player coming when he attempted to move the puck in the Sabres end.

"He hit me and I went flying," Pominville said. "There's nothing much to say. I took the hit and I think they made the right call."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff defended his young forward and took issue with the Hurricanes' complaints about the officiating.

"All I'm hearing is a lot of excuses," Ruff said. "A lot of things like that fire you up. They're a pretty arrogant bunch."

Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette on Wednesday grew tired of having Ruff's statements relayed to him by reporters.

"There should be some sort of gag order, honestly," Laviolette said. "I don't want to answer any questions on Lindy."

Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell, meanwhile, laughed when told that Weight didn't know Pominville's first name.

"That's fine," Campbell said. "I don't know if many people knew a lot of guys on our team at the start of the season. Now they're starting to get to know them."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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