PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Earning a point on the road is usually a good thing, but
the Buffalo Sabres needed two on Saturday night.
Chasing the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern
Conference, the Sabres blew a two-goal lead and settled for a 2-2 tie with the
Buffalo is five points behind New York, which lost at home to Carolina, and
both teams have four games remaining.
``It's tough to not get the two points,'' Sabres forward Mike Grier said.
``Now we're pretty much going to have to win them all and still get at least
another two losses from the Islanders. We had some chances.''
Grier narrowly missed winning the game for Buffalo when he drove to the net
down the right wing, deked Pittsburgh goaltender Sebastien Caron out of the net
and slid a backhander off the right post with 1:55 left in regulation.
``I had an open net and missed it. It's pretty simple,'' he said. ``It would
have been a big extra point for us. We just have to stay optimistic and see
Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont scored for the Sabres, 7-2-1-3 in their last 13
games. Martin Biron made 37 saves for the Sabres, including five in overtime
when the Penguins enjoyed a power play.
``I think we have to find ways to win games,'' said Buffalo coach Lindy
Ruff, whose team is 1-12-5 in its last 18 games in Pittsburgh. ``We didn't make
enough plays to win the game. We had opportunities. The Grier opportunity, he
could have throw it in the empty net.''
Konstantin Koltsov converted a two-on-one pass from Tom Kostopoulos at 15:28
of the second period to tie it for Pittsburgh, which also got a second-period
goal from Rico Fata while extending its home unbeaten streak to seven (5-0-2).
The Penguins had lost 5-1 in Buffalo on Friday and seemed destined for a
similar fate after the first period Saturday.
``It wasn't the first game where we came back from a bad start,'' said
Koltsov, who has nine goals _ including two in the past three games. ``We just
tried to play better starting in the second period.''
Fata converted Milan Kraft's pass on the power play for his 16th goal at
7:22 of the second period, giving the Penguins a power-play goal in 13
consecutive games and extending Kraft's point streak to four (2-2-4).
``We have to win every game. They're just playing to have fun and working
hard,'' said Dumont, whose power-play goal at 17:36 of the first period put
Buffalo ahead 2-0. ``We were watching the scoreboard and it gave us a boost.
Now we just have to be ready for Monday (against Columbus).''
The Penguins moved closer to escaping last place in the NHL. They trail
Washington by a single point. Pittsburgh plays Washington in two of its final
three games, the first coming Tuesday in Washington.
``We battled hard, and we have been doing that all season,'' said Pittsburgh
coach Ed Olczyk, whose team is 8-2-2 in its last 12 games and 10-4-3 since
snapping an 18-game winless streak last month. ``We knew it would be a great
test for us, a great challenge for us to play against a team that is still in