Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson saw the puck dribbling over the line, but gave it an extra push just in case.
The way Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller was playing, Alfredsson didn't take any chances.
An opportune bounce that led to Alfredsson's goal and a stifling defensive performance combined to produce Ottawa's 1-0 win over the visiting Sabres last night that gave the Senators a commanding, 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"I believe you make your own luck, and I believe if you work hard you're going to get your bounces," Alfredsson said. "We know if we play our game to our best, we're a tough team to beat."
The Senators host Game 4 tomorrow and are one win from advancing to their first Stanley Cup final.
Ray Emery was hardly tested, but stopped 15 shots to register his third shutout this postseason. In improving to an NHL-best 11-2 in the playoffs, Ottawa has won a franchise record six straight games.
"I don't think I'm surprised," Emery said. "Everyone has stuck to the game plan to a man, and that's the reason for our success."
Most impressive is they've found a way to demoralize the top-seeded Sabres, a team whose seasonlong objective to win the Cup has been derailed. Buffalo was shut out for the first time since a 4-0 loss to Carolina in Game 4 of last year's East finals.
"What's done is done. We've got to regroup as best we can and focus on the first 20 minutes of Game 4," Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. "No one's too happy right now."
Drury was particularly disappointed in believing the Sabres let down Miller, who was remarkable in stopping 31 shots.
"The biggest thing is you feel bad for this guy," Drury said. "Tonight could've been ugly without how good he was. And we couldn't even muster one to get into overtime. It's tough to take."
Miller came to play, but where was the rest of the team? Buffalo managed only five shots in the final period, and produced only one in six power-play chances.
The only puck Miller allowed to get past him didn't even begin with a shot on net 13 minutes into the second period.
Dany Heatley's one-timer on the rush from the top of the right circle sailed wide and caromed hard off the end boards directly back at Miller, who was well out of his net. Miller attempted to glove the puck but missed it, inadvertently deflecting it back toward the open goal, with Alfredsson stuffing it in just before it crossed the line.
"I got my hand on Heatley's shot, just enough to push it wide, and to have it fire right back at me kind of surprised me," Miller said. "Tough way to lose a game."
* Anaheim left wing Chris Kunitz will have surgery today on his broken right hand and is expected to miss the rest of the postseason. Kunitz broke a bone in Friday's opening-game loss at Detroit in the Western Conference finals. The best-of-seven series shifts to Anaheim tonight and Thursday. *