Hasek says after practicing he's not ready yet

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Six-time Vezina Trophy winning netminder Dominik Hasek will not be making a miracle return to the Ottawa Senators' net Thursday for what could be a deciding game.

Beleaguered rookie netminder Ray Emery, who has been in goal for all three one-goal losses the Senators have suffered in this second round, will once again be between the pipes.

The top-seeded Senators trail the best-of-seven series 3-0
following a 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday.

"I won't play tonight. I don't feel I can help my team yet. I know Ray can do a better job at this point," Hasek said after working out with a handful of Senators at an optional practice Thursday morning.

"There is no chance tonight. I can do many things. But I know Ray can do more than I can," Hasek added.

He did not rule out returning to action if the Senators are able to prolong the series. He said he wasn't considering the possibility the team's season may end before he has a chance to return.

"I don't want to think about it. My goal is to get better. I'm pretty close. I just have to believe my teammates can do it," said Hasek who hasn't played since Feb. 15 when he injured an abductor muscle in the first game of the Olympic tournament in Turin.

"I can be there and play but I know I cannot help the team. That's what I know for sure. There are some things I cannot do."

Head coach Bryan Murray said he wasn't surprised that Hasek wasn't able to play although he has looked nimble in practice the past two days.

"We kind of thought that this was the case. It's not anything that is surprising at all," Murray said.

As for Emery, Murray said it would be nice to give him a bit of a cushion. The Senators have given up at least the first goal in all three games and have scored only three goals in the last two games. They led the NHL with 314 goals in the regular season.

The Sabres have scored first in all nine of their playoff games, two shy of the NHL record set by Chicago in 1973.

"The best help we fan give him is to score some goals and give him a chance to play with a little bit of a lead as opposed to playing from behind all the time," Murray said.

"I've gotten a chance to play and I'm excited about that,"
Emery said. "I want to play the best I can and I'm trying to do

The Sabres played down questions about facing Hasek, their
former star goalie, who led Buffalo to its last postseason
appearance in 2001 before forcing his trade to Detroit later that

"We have a plan and we have to follow it. It doesn't matter who's in net," said J.P. Dumont, who scored the decisive goal in Game 3.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report