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State of the Sabres: Buffalo Rebounds After Tough Losses

Posted on December 28, 2009 by Kevin Freiheit

The Sabres began this past week with an overtime win against Toronto. The Maple Leafs continue to struggle against the Buffalo Sabres, losing the last nine matchups. Toronto did have a 2-1 lead in the 3rd, but the Sabres tied it up and eventually won the game in overtime.

Buffalo was without Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta, who were both recovering from injuries. About midway through the third period, Jochen Hecht tipped in a rebound pass Jonas Gustavsson to tie the game at two.
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Toronto played very well, and deserved the win, but they were unable to stop the Sabres. Derek Roy took a pass from Hecht, and backhanded it into the net for the overtime win.

On Wednesday, the Sabres ran into the Washington Capitals and found out how good they really are. The Sabres have held the Capitals to just two goals in as many games prior to Wednesday. Buffalo stayed with Washington for most of the game, but then collapsed midway through the third.
In the third, Washington would take advantage of a 5 on 3 power play, scoring twice. Backstrom scored his second of the night, followed by an Ovechkin goal to break the game wide open. The Sabres stayed in the game up until the two man advantage for Washington. The Capitals have led in 35 of 37 games this season.

Ryan Miller had a rare off night in net for Buffalo. He stopped 33 of 38 shots on goal. Ovechkin and the Capitals were too much for the Sabres, as they take a 2-1 lead in the season series. It was the first time Buffalo has allowed more than three goals in a game since November 28th, a span of 16 games.

Buffalo would then come home on Saturday to host an Ottawa team they have been struggling against. It took Buffalo over 17 minutes to record their first shot of the game, and that one sh0t was all they ended up with after the first period. Ottawa, on the other hand, fired 19 shots on Ryan Miller, who stopped them all.

Both teams had a power play opportunity in the third and a chance to take a 3-2 lead. Buffalo failed on their chance as they could not manage a shot. On Toni Lydman’s penalty, the Senators couldn’t capitalize either. Ottawa would get another power play chance with three minutes remaining in the third period, but they could not get the puck past Miller.

In the shootout, both Alex Kovalev and Mike Fisher were able to beat Miller. On the other side, Vanek and Connolly were unable to score, giving Ottawa the 3-2 victory.
The Sabres would cap off the week with an impressive 5-3 win in St. Louis. The back and forth battle ended up in favor of Buffalo.

Jason Pominville celebrates a goal by teammate Jochen Hecht

Jason Pominville celebrates a goal by teammate Jochen Hecht.

With under five minutes to go, Buffalo took a penalty, giving St. Louis an opportunity to tie it up. Tyler Myers then blocked a shot that hit him in the face, but he managed to clear it out with a desperation dive. Mike Grier raced after it and passed it to Tim Connolly in the offensive zone, who then backhanded it past Conklin for the shorthanded goal and a 5-3 lead.

Buffalo finishes the week with two wins, grabbing five out of a possible eight points. They remain third in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres will play three games this week: Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Montreal.

Next week, Sabres Hockey Central will be starting a series in which we will look at a different Sabres player every Sunday. “Sabres In Focus” will begin with Patrick Kaleta. For more info, visit www.sabreshockeycentral.com


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