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
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
``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.