When a team is finding it's way back into the win column, a bounce here and a bounce there is all you need to turn it around. The Buffalo Sabres got that bounce with just 39.1 seconds remaining in regulation from Chris Drury to tie the score at three and eventually send the game to a shootout where the Sabres outscored the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in the shootout to earn the 4-3 victory and move them to 33-11-4 (70 points) on the season.
Ales Kotalik scored the game winner in the shootout on his back hand shot, roofing the puck over Dany Sabourin for the win. Maxim Afinogenov also scored in the shootout for Buffalo while Brenden Morrison scored for Vancouver, but just getting to the shootout in the first place was a task in itself.
With Ryan Miller sitting on the bench for the extra attacker, Drury was stationed in front of the net and deflected the puck just over Dany Sabourin's glove hand for his 24th of the season. Drury's deflection was actually the second one on the initial shot by Brian Campbell from the point, as Jason Pominville had the initial deflection.
"Brian did a great job getting the puck to the net," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "Pominville did a good job screening, and Drury was there and got a good bounce. We needed that."
"I knew the guys were crashing to the net," said Campbell. "I just wanted to throw something out there and see what happens."
Like the coaches tell the players, just throw the puck to the net and anything is possible.
"As far as I saw, just getting the puck to the net and you can cause havoc," said goaltender Ryan Miller who stopped 25 of the 28 shots in regulation and overtime and then stopping Ryan Kesler, Markus Naslund, and Josh Green in the shootout. "It's definitely something we should do a little more of."
In what was could have been a potential matchup between All-Star starting goaltenders in Ryan Miller and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, the Canucks started their backup, and Sabourin stole the show stopping 33 of 36 Buffalo shots. He was sharp in net even though he made only his fourth start of the season.
The game was a battle the whole way as there was three one goal leads and four ties throughout. Through grit and determination, the Sabres were able to overcome special teams problems in the second period as they gave up a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal, and come back with a strong third period.
"I really thought we got our feet back on the ground in the third period and really went to work," said Ruff. "I thought the last ten minutes of play, we dominated again."
"It's always fun when you have a great win like that," said Pominville. "Especially with tying it up late in the third."
"It was a little bit of a battle," said Miller. "But I thought we had some great chances and we pushed it in the third and that's a good sign. Not every game is going to be pretty and we really pulled one out tonight."
Stationed to the right side of the net, Daniel Briere found a crashing Pominville who then buried the puck past an outstretched Sabourin, glove-side for his 21st of the season just 7:31 into the game.
Using the powerplay to their advantage, Vancouver tied the game 4:28 into the second period as Taylor Pyatt scored his 13th of the season off the rebound of Lukas Krajicek’s shot from the point. The goal was reviewed but upheld as the puck ricocheted off Pyatt's left skate.
Vancouver took the lead at 16:08 of the second period, off just their second shorthanded tally of the season, as Green found Jan Bulis on a breakaway for his ninth of the season. The center beat Miller to the right side, just below the netminder's stick.
After missing two games due to an upper body injury, Paul Gaustad tied the score at two, 1:54 into the third period with his eighth of the season as he beat Sabourin above his glove hand. Afinogenov’s centering pass had deflected off a Vancouver defenseman right to a crashing Gaustad.
Nasland gave Vancouver the lead once again as he scored his 15th of the season and fifth on the powerplay at 7:58 of the third period, making it 3-2. Coming in from the left side, he took a rebound off the glass behind the net and shot the puck over a diving Miller.