WAYBACK WHEN (LGS) — This week we release the third and fourth of 11 nominees for Greatest Moment in Buffalo Sabres' History. Keep watching throughout the season as we release more moments on our way toward a vote that will determine the final order. If you want to suggest a nominee, email us. Nominees 1 and 2.
April 24, 1993, Memorial Auditorium
The Sabres have already won two overtime games in taking a 3-0 lead in the first round against the Boston Bruins when Game 4 at the Aud also goes to overtime. Twenty-one-year-old Brad May kisses his stick for luck and moments later takes a pass at the Bruins' line from the sliding-on-the-ice Pat LaFontaine, pulls the puck between the skates of Raymond Bourque, fakes a shot to freeze goaltender Andy Moog and, well, you know the rest. May's goal at 4:48 sandblasts a decade of playoff frustration off the cold cement walls of the Aud and sets off a wild celebration that spills outside with high fives and car horns in the warm spring air. Coming-out party for Dominik Hasek, who replaces an injured Grant Fuhr and robs Peter Douris with a point-blank skate save in OT. "May Day" is Sabres' radio play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret's most famous call. The Sabres in the next round go on to lose four straight one-goal games to eventual Stanley Cup champions Montreal, but fans will always treasure the year May Day came one week early.
May 31, 1999, Air Canada Centre
The Sabres come back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to win Game 5 4-2 and advance to their first Stanley Cup finals since 1975, before seven of their players were even born. The Hockey Gods Upstairs seem to be smiling on the Toronto Maple Leafs when Vaclav Varada's apparent go-ahead goal with 10:37 left in the third period is disallowed by replay officials who rule Varada kicked the puck into the net. Let history show that they get this call right. But rookie Erik Rasmussen scores on a backhand 2:12 later on Brian Holzinger's rebound for the game- and series-winning goal, and Dixon Ward effectively cease-fires the eight-day Border War with an empty-netter with 1:02 to go. Captain Mike Peca raises some eyebrows when he refuses to raise the Prince of Wales Trophy, but he has a good explanation: "That didn't look like the Stanley Cup." The Great Ticket Fiasco of 1999 the next morning robs a measure of attention from the seventh-seed Sabres' incredible accomplishment, but the brouhaha is just another indication that the fans are positively desperate for a championship. The same can be said of their team.
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