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Another Shutout Slips Away

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres may have extended the team's winning streak in the Windy City to three games with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but the team was dissatisfied by the way they finished.

With 49.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Denis Arkhipov out skated two Sabres defensemen and beat Ryan Miller with a wristshot to ruin the goalie's shutout bid. Arkhipov's sixth of the season rang off the right post and then was kicked into the net as Miller attempted to corral the shot between his pads.

"We played pretty well the whole game and to give up one like that towards the end is disappointing," said Jason Pominville. "After that play, we closed everything."

Miller finished the game - his 22nd victory of the season - with 34 saves and hasn't been able to complete a shutout since October 26.

Nikolai Khabibulin countered Miller's performance for Chicago with 27 saves.

"Khabibulin looked like the old Khabibulin," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "He made some great saves."

Jochen Hecht gave Buffalo the lead with the lone goal of the opening two periods. Stationed at the left post, Hecht received a feed from Pominville that pinballed its way through the slot and roofed the puck over Khabibulin for his 11th goal of the season at 4:47 of the first.

The goal was Hecht's first point in four games.

"That game felt like it did six years ago when we were always in the 1-0 or 2-0 games," said Ruff. "You're hanging on, knowing that one bad bounce could kill you."

Maxim Afinogenov became the third Sabres forward this season to eclipse the 20-goal plateau, as he found a crack in the Bulin Wall three minutes into the third period to give Buffalo the 2-0 lead.

Receiving an across-ice pass from Thomas Vanek at Chicago's blueline, Afinogenov cut wide along the boards and slipped a shot five-hole on Khabibulin as the netminder was hugging the left post to record his 20th goal of the season.

Vanek and co-captain Chris Drury led all Sabres goal scorers with 22 goals this season.

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