October 23, 2006
By Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres made franchise history and broke a record that had stood for more than 30 years on Tuesday night. Buffalo set a new franchise benchmark with the team's ninth consecutive win to start the season as the team vanquished the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at the Bell Centre.
The club's previous high was eight games set by the 1975-76 squad. The NHL record for longest winning streak from the start of a season is 10 games, set by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993-94.
A true barometer of how good a team can be is its performance on the road. Five of Buffalo's wins this season has come in their opponent's barns.
"We're always just thinking about the next game and the next 20 minutes," Drury said. "It's a group that is never satisfied."
Goaltender Ryan Miller
recorded his seventh victory of the season with 26 saves and could have got his first shutout this season had it not been for an unfortunate bounce. Mike Johnson ruined Miller's shutout bid when his spinning slapshot from the right faceoff dot deflected off Henrik Tallinder's stick and over the netminder's right shoulder at the 9:06 mark of the third.
was great and our penalty killers did well," said Drury. "It was a good night for us."
Drury led all scorers and earned First Star honors with a goal and an assist, while Jiri Novotny, Jason Pominville
and Thomas Vanek
added individual markers.
Backstopped by Miller, Buffalo withstood an early assault by the Canadiens in the opening nine minutes of play, being outshot 4-1 in that span.
"It's amazing that no matter how much we talk about it as a group, [Montreal] still was able to come out and surprise us in the first couple of shifts," said Drury. "Luckily for us, Ryan made a couple huge saves and that kind of changed the game at that point."
As it has seemed all season long, it wasn't of question of if Buffalo would score but when the team would light the lamp.
Novotny answered the call and rewarded Miller's stinginess, giving Buffalo the lead with a hard wristshot from the high slot that Montreal Canadiens netminder Cristobal Huet would like to have back. Fronted by two defensemen at the Montreal blueline, Novotny fired from 50 feet hit and Huet high on his chest. The rebound flipped over the bewildered goalie for Novotny's fourth goal of the season at 9:42.
Drury made the score 2-0 in favor of Buffalo with the team's second shorthanded goal of the season at 9:10 of the second.
Collecting an Andrei Markov turnover at the red line, Drury skated into the offensive zone unmolested and blasted a precision slapshot into the top-right corner of the net. Drury's 10 goals are tied Atlanta Thrashers winger Marian Hossa for the league lead.
With his third goal in as many games, Pominville increased the Sabres lead to three. Fighting his way to the front of the net, the Repentigny, Quebec native redirected Daniel Briere's spinning wristshot from the slot over Huet's left pad at 11:12 of the second.
Vanek scored the easy empty netter fresh out of the penalty box after receiving a long pass from Dmitri Kalinin and nonchalantly skating into the zone alone for his sixth goal of the season.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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