The Washington Capitals couldn't play any better. Neither could Dominik Hasek.
"We had it, (but) Dominik made some big saves," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said Tuesday night following a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres that put Washington's planned trip to the Stanley Cup Finals on hold.The Capitals are still up 3-2 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference finals, with Game 6 set for Thursday night in Buffalo. But they have to be thinking: what more can they do to beat the Sabres and their star goalie than they did Tuesday night?
Washington outshot Buffalo 35-16, carried the play for most of the game, yet still wound up losing.
"It was frustrating," said Washington's Adam Oates, who was victimized more than once by Hasek. "It was our best game of the series, but that's hockey."
Hasek came up with one of his best performance after losing three straight games to put the Sabres in a desperate situation.
"I made some saves I didn't even know how I made," Hasek said, shaking his head. "Sometimes the bounces (haven't) gone my way. Today, I was lucky."
After giving up a couple of soft goals in a 2-0 Game 4 loss in Buffalo on Saturday night, Hasek ribbed himself by wearing a shirt to practice the next day with the words "Swiss cheese" on the back.
Only kidding, Capitals.
"He's the best goalie in the world and was playing like the third or fourth-best goal goalie in the world," teammate Dixon Ward said. "He took some heat for it, but he came back here in a pretty hostile situation and kind of shoved it (back at the Capitals).
"He'll be on the front page tomorrow as the best goalie in the world again."
Oates would be the last to disagree.
"I thought he was fantastic. That's the reason they're here (in the conference finals)."