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Another 4-3 Win

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres continue to be a thorn in the side of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the their final meeting of the regular season and the tail end of a home-and-home series, the Sabres scored three goals in the opening period en route to another narrow 4-3 victory over the Penguins.

Pittsburgh roared to life in the third period with a pair of goals, capitalizing on a lapse by Buffalo that disturbed Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff.

"There was disappointment," said Ruff. "We turned in a 37 minute out of about 40 minutes performance. The last 23 minutes, we turned into a very casual hockey team that let them back in the game and almost lost us the game."

Michel Ouellet converted on Tomas Surovy's rebound just 24 seconds into the final period, while Surovy scored his first goal of the season at 9:43.

"We had some careless giveaways and we threw some pucks in some places we don't normally throw them," said Ruff. "I thought several of our key players didn't make plays, and at times, made some foolish plays that cost us dearly. If it wasn't for a big save by Martin Biron, we would have been probably going into overtime again."

Biron, who won his 13th consecutive start with 30 saves, made a carbon copy save of Mark Recchi's goal from Friday night, this time on Erik Christensen with only 31 seconds remaining in regulation. As the puck traveled through the crease into traffic, Christensen attempt to slap it into the net. Out of position, Biron reach behind and snagged the puck with his glove just inches in front of the goal line.

"Every single play is always different," said Biron. "The puck took a weird bounce out there and I just kind of threw my arm back. I was fortunate enough to make the save in front of the line this time."

In a game where Buffalo never trailed, Olympic hopefuls Maxim Afinogenov and Tim Connolly led the way for the Sabres. Afinogenov finished the game with a goal and two assists, while Connolly notched a pair of assists.

Buffalo also received goals from Adam Mair, rookie
Jason Pominville and co-captain Chris Drury.

Co-captain Daniel Briere was forced to sit out Saturday's game due to his ongoing abdominal injury. Briere woke up Saturday morning with soreness in his midsection after Friday's game, according to Ruff.

"I wouldn't say he's back to square one," said Ruff of the severity of Briere's injury. "We'll just have to see how he feels on rest again. Maybe it's a case where he won't be able to play back-to-back games, he'll need an extra day."

Mair opened the scoring at 3:32 in the first, one-timing Afinogenov's pass from the right wing by Pittsburgh goaltender Jocelyn Thibault.

Afinogenov increased the Sabres lead to two goals after receiving a pass off the boards from Connolly and flipping a wristshot over the goaltender's left blocker.

Penguins' standout rookie, Sidney Crosby cut Buffalo's lead to one goal after collecting a loose puck in the neutral zone and firing a wristshot from the right face-off dot that snuck by Biron's glove.

Pominville, who has become a staple on the Sabres power-play unit, reclaimed Buffalo's two-goal lead with his third goal this season. He one-timed Afinogenov's pass from the right wing for his eighth point in 11 games and second power-play goal of the year.

Buffalo's fourth goal and the only score during the second came off a Pittsburgh miscue. Drury's attempted pass to Jochen Hecht deflected off a skate into the net with less than five minutes remaining in the second.

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Period 1
1-0 (3:32): Adam Mair one-times Maxim Afinogenov's pass from the right wing past Pittsburgh goaltender Jocelyn Thibault for his second goal of the season. Mair's shot came from just above the right face-off circle. Afinogenov and Derek Roy record the assists.

2-0 (6:46): Tim Connolly finds Maxim Afinogenov coming out of the penalty box and springs the Russian with a pass off the boards. Afinogenov drove to the net, faked and flipped a wristshot over Thibault for his seventh goal of the season. Connolly and Toni Lydman record the assists.

2-1 (10:50): Sidney Crosby fires a wristshot from the right face-off dot that beats Martin Biron on his glove side. The goal is Crosby's 14th of the season. Ryan Malone and Josef Melichar get the assists.

3-1 (18:15): Maxim Afinogenov finds Jason Pominville on the left point with a pass that the rookie one-times past Thibault to extend the Sabres lead to two. The goal is Pominville's third of the season and he has now scored eight points in 11 games. Afinogenov records his third point of the game with the primary assist, while Derek Roy gets the secondary.

Period 2
4-1 (15:34): Chris Drury's pass from behind the net on the right wing intended for Jochen Hecht redirects off a Pittsburgh defenseman's skate and into the net. The goal is Drury's 11th of the season. Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik record the assists.

Period 3
4-2 (0:24): Michel Ouellet collects another loose puck in front of Biron and slams it home to cut Buffalo's lead to a pair. The goal is Ouellet's second career goal with both coming against Biron and Buffalo. Tomas Surovy and Sergei Gonchar.

4-3 (9:43): Tomas Surovy collects a loose puck in front of Biron and slaps a shot through traffic that finds the back of the net. The goal is Surovy's first of the season. Ryan Whitney and Michel Ouellet record the assists.
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