ATLANTA (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres stopped fighting long enough to pull off a
Derek Roy scored a fluky goal 15 seconds into overtime after the Sabres
rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final 7:37 of the third period, beating
the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 Wednesday night.
The game was marred by numerous fights, the last coming when Atlanta
enforcer Francis Lessard jumped on Buffalo strongman Andrew Peters with 14:22
left in regulation.
Lessard was ejected from the game and the Sabres, trailing 3-1, wound up
with a seven-minute power play. They capitalized with just 15 seconds left in
the advantage, getting a goal from Andrew Mair.
Jochen Hecht tied it for the Sabres 56 seconds later. Milan Bartovic skated
behind the net and flipped a pass out front to his teammate, who put it through
Pasi Nurminen's legs with 6:13 left.
Nurminen had several spectacular saves among his 29 stops, but he looked
foolish in overtime. Roy fired a shot from the top of the circle that caught
the goalie in the chest, fell at his skates and slid into the net.
From Roy's perspective, that merely evened things out.
``The last game against Toronto, we had three fluke goals scored on us _ off
skates, off sticks, off the goalie's pads,'' he said. ``We just got some good
luck today because we worked really hard all game. I think we deserved it.''
The Sabres played their fourth straight overtime game, finally winning one
after losing three straight in the extra period. They moved within four points
of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Andy Sutton tied a career high with two goals for the Thrashers, but it
Showing that little has changed since Todd Bertuzzi's blindside attack on
Steve Moore, the teams carried over the bad blood from their previous meeting _
Buffalo's 7-2 victory last month that included 118 minutes in penalties.
This one was even worse. Atlanta was penalized 19 times for 72 minutes,
Buffalo 15 times for 53 minutes _ a total of 125 minutes.
Atlanta's enforcers, Lessard and Kip Brennan, were involved in two fights
apiece. Buffalo's Daniel Briere was knocked out of the game when Sutton
delivered an elbow to the head in the third period.
``It's getting ridiculous,'' said Briere, who might have a concussion. ``You
can't even skate anymore. You have to look all around, for you don't know who's
coming at you. It's ridiculous. They have no respect for players.''
In between all the fisticuffs, J.P. Dumont gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead late in
the first period, Ilya Kovalchuk tied it with his 38th of the season and Sutton
put the Thrashers ahead 3-1 with back-to-back goals. The defenseman's only
other two-goal game was Oct. 12, 2002, against Chicago.
The punches came early and often. Less than three minutes in, Brennan
squared off with Peters in a battle of enforcers. Peters was the clear winner,
decking Brennan with a crisp right hand.
After those two were escorted to the penalty box _ where Brennan applied an
ice pack to his face _ the Thrashers sent out their other heavyweight. Lessard
immediately went after Buffalo's Eric Boulton and gained some revenge for
Brennan's beating, taking out Boulton with a series of left hands.
Lessard skated off with a gap-toothed smile, waving his left index finger in
But Lessard cost the Thrashers dearly in the third when, with his team up
two goals, he attacked Peters right off a faceoff. The Buffalo player smartly
dropped to his knees and covered up while Lessard punched him in the back of
the neck, getting ejected and giving the Sabres their long power play.
Peters waved derisively at Lessard as the Atlanta player left the ice.
``We had the game under control,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. ``With
that seven-minute power play, though, we couldn't find momentum again.''
Peters goaded Lessard into the one-sided fight _ a heady move by a guy who
normally contributes with his fists.
``We have a good, rough team,'' Peters said proudly. ``We have the heart to
do what we have to do.''
Even Kovalchuk was in a fighting mood, jumping on Bartovic and pummeling him
with punches after the Buffalo player delivered a cheap shot during a scrum in
front of the net.