Series (Game 5 of 5)

Buffalo leads 4-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 12th
Game 2: Saturday, December 21st
Game 3: Saturday, January 11th
Game 4: Wednesday, February 19th
Game 5: Friday, March 28th

Canadiens 1

(28-33-9, 73 pts)

Sabres 4

(25-35-8, 67 pts)

7:00 PM ET, March 28, 2003

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 0 11
BUF 1 3 04

T. Pyatt (Sabres - LW): Goals: 3, Assists: 0

A. Zhitnik (Sabres - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

D. Briere (Sabres - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

After missing four games, Pyatt returns with three goals

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- When Taylor Pyatt capped his first career three-goal game, he was so surprised he didn't know what to do.

Taylor Pyatt
Left Wing
Buffalo Sabres
72 10 13 23 -6 38

''I was sort of in shock,'' Pyatt said. ''I didn't even look for any hats.''

Pyatt's hat trick led Buffalo to a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. When he scored his third goal 12:16 into the second, the fans were apparently surprised as well -- only one hat found its way to the ice.

Pyatt, playing after missing four games with a concussion, has six goals and nine points in his last eight games. Jochen Hecht scored his fourth goal in the past six games for Buffalo, which won its third in a row.

''Somebody said after the game he's got to get knocked out again,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said jokingly.

Pyatt said he's seeing the ice better.

''You get a little bit of confidence and things just sort of come a lot easier out there,'' Pyatt said. ''The ice just seems to open up a little bit.''

Martin Biron stopped 27 shots for the Sabres, and Miroslav Satan, Daniel Briere and Alexei Zhitnik each had two assists.

Yanic Perreault scored his third goal in 33 games for Montreal, which lost for the fifth time in six games.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Montreal has to be accountable if they want to get better.

''Tonight, we had some guys who probably were trying to do a little too much to compensate for guys who were not doing enough, and that makes for a pretty poor effort,'' he said.

Pyatt opened the scoring a minute into the game when he took a pass from Briere in the slot and fired it over Mathieu Garon's left shoulder.

Hecht backhanded a shot in the slot past Garon 30 seconds into the second. The puck trickled to Hecht after Garon made a diving save on a cross-ice pass from Briere to J.P. Dumont.

''It always takes the wind out of a team, especially in the first minute of a period,'' Julien said. ''Those are things you can't do. A lot of it's a reflection of our season.''

Pyatt's second made it 3-0 on the power play 10:43 into the second when he tipped Zhitnik's shot from the point past a screened Garon.

Pyatt scored his third when he forced the puck from Craig Rivet in the Buffalo zone to Satan, who skated down the right wing and fed Pyatt across the ice on a two-on-one. Pyatt fired it past Garon for his career-high 13th goal.

Ruff said Pyatt finally capitalized on his opportunities.

''Tonight, the first few chances he got, every one went in,'' he said. ''And then we tried to get him out on the next couple power plays to get a fourth. I said, 'Keep shooting -- it's one of those nights. They'll keep going in.'''

Perreault scored 8:02 into the third when Andreas Dackell's shot from the point deflected off his skate and past Biron for his 22nd of the season.

Garon -- playing his first game since March 8 -- finished with 27 saves.

With 8:22 left in the first, Buffalo forward Curtis Brown broke his ankle blocking a shot but managed to stay in the game. He is out the rest of the season.

Buffalo planned to call up a forward, possibly Chris Taylor, who the Sabres sent to Rochester earlier Friday, Ruff said.

Game notes

Friday was Montreal's first game in the United States since a significant portion of the fans in the Bell Centre booed the U.S. national anthem last Thursday. Fans in HSBC Arena cheered loudly after both anthems. ... Sabres forward Ales Kotalik, second among NHL rookies with 19 goals, missed the game with the flu and did not leave on a two-game road trip following the game. ... Sabres forward Adam Mair and defenseman Jay McKee also returned to the lineup. McKee missed 20 games. ... Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder has been cleared to play after missing six weeks with a high ankle sprain. Buffalo sent defenseman Radoslav Hecl to Rochester. ... Montreal forward Jason Ward hyperextended his right elbow Thursday in practice and did not make the trip.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press