Down by three goals with less than nine minutes to play, the Buffalo Sabres proved that no lead is safe when time still remains. Maxim Afinogenov scored consecutive goals in the span of six minutes and Ales Kotalik tied the game with less than two minutes remaining to play, as the Sabres ultimately skated away with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Buffalo sailed into the TD Banknorth Garden the hottest team in the NHL after winning their first 10 games. But against the last place team in the Northeast Division, the Sabres high-octane offense, which led the league with 50 goals scored entering the contest, sputtered and struggled until the second half of the third period.
"I really felt that if we could get one early in the third we could get back in it," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "When we got that [second] goal, we got a little bit of momentum. Two goals in today's game is no insurmountable."
Out shot 28-18 through two periods, goaltender Ryan Miller
kept the team within striking distance with key save after key save. He earned his ninth victory of the season with 30 saves and stops on two of three shootout attempts.
Kotalik and Daniel Briere each beat Boston netminder Tim Thomas with backhanders in the shootout as Buffalo recorded 23 of a possible 24 points in 12 games this season. Buffalo has still not lost during regulation, posting a 11-0-1 record.
"This team just knows that we can come back from a deficit," said Kotalik. "We just believe that we can do it even if it's in the third period and time is winding down.
"That just happened again tonight."Jason Pominville
scored Buffalo's first goal of the game and his sixth in as many games in the second period. Pominville's goal-scoring streak is nearing historic proportions. The franchise record is eight games and is currently shared by Alexander Mogilny, Mike Foligno and Miroslav Satan.
"We didn't come ready to play, but you've got to give Boston a lot of credit for how well they played in the first period," Ruff said. "They came hard, out skated us and out worked us.
"The last 40 minutes I thought was competed pretty evenly."
Boston struck first on a two-on-one rush in the second period after Miller stopped all 16 shots he faced in the first. PJ Axelsson one-timed Marc Savard's across-ice feed over Miller's left pad to claim his third goal of the season at 1:16 of the second.
Pominville deflected Brian Campbell's pass from the right point over the glove of Boston goaltender Tim Thomas to tie the game five minutes later.
Savard regained Boston's lead after backhanding a rebound that deflected off the left post for his second goal of the season at 13:26 of the middle frame.
Boston entered the third period with a 3-1 lead after scoring their second power-play goal of the night on a two-on-one rush.
Miller stopped a blazing slapshot from close range from Savard but Glenn Murray shoveled the rebound into the net for his fifth goal of the season at 19:16 in the second.
For the first time this season, Boston scores more than three goals in a game after Mark Mowers gets his first of the season. Skating down the slot, Mowers chipped Boyes' centering pass between Miller's pads to make the score 4-1 in favor of Boston at the 3:56 mark of the third period.
Afinogenov notches his seventh goal of the season after firing a quick wristshot from the slot and his eighth off a Thomas Vanek
rebound to bring Buffalo to within a goal with three minutes remaining in regulation.
Kotalik sends the game into overtime after one-timing Paul Gaustad's pass from the corner past Thomas to make the score 4-4 at 18:25 of the third.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
Game Summary | Super Stats | Face-offs | Play-by-Play | Shift Chart