BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres made sure not to let Martin Biron's big glove save go to waste.
Shortly after Biron foiled Montreal's Joe Juneau on the doorstep, Maxim Afinogenov sparked a three-goal outburst, lifting the Sabres to a 4-1 win over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
``That was as big as it comes,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Biron's save. ``I thought tonight may have been _ from a big-save standpoint _ probably Marty's best game of the year.''
No problem, said Biron, who stopped 29 shots to record his third win in three starts to match his best stretch of the season.
``It's a win, that's all it is,'' Biron said. ``You can play a great game and lose. To play a great game and win, that's what you've got to do in this league to be able to keep going.''
Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik had a goal and assist apiece, and Alexei Zhitnik also scored, allowing the Sabres to earn only their sixth victory when giving up the game's first goal.
Saku Koivu scored for the Canadiens, who have lost three straight for only the third time this season. It was also Montreal's sixth consecutive loss at Buffalo, dating to Oct. 26, 2001.
The Canadiens had their chances, but were stunted by Biron.
He even had Canadiens coach Claude Julien shaking his head.
``The turning point was Martin Biron making the big saves,'' Julien said. ``If we score on those, it's a different story.''
Biron's save on Juneau, in which the goalie reached back with his glove to snag the puck, came during a Canadiens' two-on-one break, when Niklas Sundstrum hit Juneau driving to the net.
Biron also came up big earlier in the period, foiling Mike Ribeiro with a glove stop during an odd-man rush, and Jozef Balej with a pad save from in close.
Afinogenov finally turned gave Buffalo momentum, his goal coming 7:24 into the third and with the Sabres being outshot 9-1 from the start of the period.
Derek Roy skated up the left wing before he had the puck knocked off his stick by Montreal defender Craig Rivet. Afinogenov pounced on the loose puck in the left circle and drove to the net, snapping a shot that beat Jose Theodore high on the short side.
Kotalik made it 3-1 with 5:49 remaining, capping a nifty three-way passing play from the left circle by one-timing Drury's cross-ice feed. Drury sealed the win three minutes later, slipping a shot through Theodore's legs.
Theodore finished with 24 saves, giving up four or more goals in consecutive games for only the second time this season.
``We had some great chances and couldn't bury them,'' said Theodore, coming off Saturday's 4-1 loss against Toronto. ``When you win games, you take the lead and control the lead.''
The Sabres have displayed newfound resiliency.
They're coming off Sunday's 4-2 win at Carolina, a game in which they trailed 2-0.
``That win in Carolina helped us,'' Drury said. ``I think this team's gaining some confidence. I like the direction we're going.''
The Canadiens struck first when Koivu scored seven minutes into the second period, converting Michael Ryder's feed into the slot.
Zhitnik tied it four minutes later with a power-play goal. His blast from the left point deflected in off the stick of Canadiens forward Chad Kilger.
|Saku Koivu (8) ASST: Michael Ryder (23), Jan Bulis (10)|
1 - 0 MTL
|PPG - Alexei Zhitnik (4) ASST: Andy Delmore (3), J-P Dumont (17)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Maxim Afinogenov (9) ASST: Derek Roy (5), Miroslav Satan (12)|
2 - 1 BUF
|Ales Kotalik (11) ASST: Chris Drury (22), J-P Dumont (18)|
3 - 1 BUF
|Chris Drury (9) ASST: Ales Kotalik (6)|
4 - 1 BUF
|Alexei Zhitnik Hooking|
|Michael Ryder Boarding against Derek Roy|
|Andrew Peters Fighting (maj) against Darren Langdon|
|Darren Langdon Fighting (maj) against Andrew Peters|
|Sheldon Souray Cross checking against Adam Mair|
|Martin Biron Tripping against Michael Ryder|
|Yanic Perreault Tripping against Henrik Tallinder|
|Dmitri Kalinin Hooking against Patrice Brisebois|
|Daniel Briere Tripping against Joseph Juneau|
|Stephane Quintal Hooking|