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Sabres 6, Sharks 5, SO @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Sabres coach Lindy Ruff questioned the significance of playing a mere game just hours after a plane crash left the area emotionally drained.

Perhaps Ruff got his answer on a night in which winning was both decidedly secondary and entertaining, considering how the Sabres were loudly cheered following a dramatic 6-5 shootout victory over San Jose on Friday night.

"I think, yeah, ever so small, this event turned out to be a positive night," Ruff said. "Though it is a hockey game, it was a good ending. It's a positive feeling. We needed it. I think our fans needed it."

As small diversions go, the Sabres managed to briefly draw attention away from the headlines, talk shows and newscasts that focused on the 50 people who died Thursday night when Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed into a home in suburban Buffalo, not far from where Ruff and numerous players live.

The crash site was so close to defenseman Teppo Numminen's home that he heard something wrong with the plane during its approach to Buffalo Niagara International Airport just before it crashed.

"I heard a little poof afterwards, and I was thinking, `That doesn't sound good,"' Numminen said. "So I looked out my window and saw the red sky and I knew something was wrong."

The Sabres, who turned down the NHL's offer to postpone the game, paid tribute by holding a moment of silence before the opening faceoff.

"Obviously, it's been a real tough day for all of Buffalo," captain Craig Rivet said. "If we could somehow ease some of the pain, I hope it'll help."

Derek Roy scored the decisive goal in the fifth round of the shootout with a slick backhander that beat Evgeni Nabokov on the glove side. Jason Pominville did his part, forcing overtime by deflecting in Rivet's point shot with 4 seconds left in regulation.

Pominville, who snapped a 17-game goal drought, Roy and Ales Kotalik had a goal and assist each, while Rivet had three assists in his first game against his former team since the Sharks traded him to Buffalo in July.

The Sabres snapped a two-game winless skid and, with 64 points, are tied with Florida for seventh place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race.

Joe Thornton had four assists, and Patrick Marleau scored twice for the West-leading Sharks, 1-0-3 on a five-game trip that ends Sunday in New Jersey. Dan Boyle had a goal and assist while Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi also scored for San Jose.

"It was an entertaining game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Anybody who came here probably got their mind off very serious issues."

At Newark, N.J., Scott Clemmensen made 31 saves for his second straight shutout after going nearly five years without one in the NHL, and Bryce Salvador scored in New Jersey's victory over NHL-leading Boston.

Clemmensen, subbing for the soon-to-return Martin Brodeur, is staking his claim for more playing time down the stretch after the four-time Vezina Trophy winner comes back from the elbow injury that has sidelined him most of the season.

Clemmensen snapped his shutout drought Monday night with a 27-save, 3-0 win over the New York Rangers, his first shutout since March 2004.

At Columbus, Ohio, Jason Williams scored with 6:55 to go to help Columbus snap Stanley Cup champion Detroit's winning streak at six games.

Williams, the former Detroit player acquired in a trade with Atlanta on Jan. 15, scored in his third straight game to help the Blue Jackets win their third in a row.

Columbus rookie Steve Mason made 32 saves after missing three games because of mononucleosis. Raffi Torres and Jason Chimera also scored for Columbus.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Mikael Samuelsson scored for Detroit.

At Denver, Andrei Kostitsyn scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:16 remaining, and Jaroslav Halak made 46 saves to help Montreal snap a seven-game road losing streak.

Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois and Tom Kostopoulos also scored in Montreal's first regular-season win in Denver since Feb. 6, 1982, against the Colorado Rockies, who later became the New Jersey Devils.

Jordan Leopold and Tyler Arnason scored for Colorado.

At Sunrise, Fla., Richard Zednik scored the only goal in the shootout, and Florida's Tomas Vokoun stopped all four New York attempts.

Vokoun ended the shootout when he stopped Nikolai Zherdev's backhander off a deke.

Michael Frolik scored in regulation for Florida, 12-3-3 since Jan. 1.

Fredrik Sjostrom scored for New York, 1-4-2 in its last seven.

At St. Louis, Brad Boyes scored early in the third period, and Chris Mason made 22 saves for St. Louis to shut out Chicago for the second straight time.

Boyes scored on a 4-on-3 power play, converting a one-timer from the left circle 57 seconds into the third. Mason beat Chicago 2-0 on Jan. 21.

At Dallas, Joel Lundqvist gave Dallas the lead for good with his first goal of the season, and Marty Turco made 32 saves.

Loui Eriksson had a goal and an assist for Dallas. The Stars won for the eighth time in 10 games and snapped Vancouver's four-game winning streak.

Taylor Pyatt scored for Vancouver.

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