It was a long time coming for Maxim Afinogenov.
Accepting a pass from Teppo Numminen midway through the second period, Afinogenov carried the puck from the neutral zone to the front of the net, and slipped a shot underneath Johan Hedberg.
The goal was his first since March 27, 2008.
“It’s a big relief,” Afinogenov said, who led the team with five shots in the Sabres’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Thrashers. “I had some chances before that but the puck always seemed to take a bad bounce somewhere.”
One of those chances came late in the first period. Afinogenov maneuvered to the front of the crease and fired a backhand into the side of Hedberg.
“That was my fault a little bit,” Afinogenov said of the play. “But the worst part is when you don’t get those opportunities… I’ve had some chances and some points, so I knew that I would score [eventually].
Through the first 12 games in the 2008-09 season, Afinogenov tallied seven assists but had failed to add a goal.
The winger had similar problems last season, netting only 10 goals through 56 games.
“It’s always tough for any player when he’s not scoring goals. I know from my own experience,” Ales Kotalik said. “The longer it takes the harder it is not to think about it and it’s not a good situation for anybody. We’re really happy for Max today and hopefully there are many more coming… This is just going to get his confidence up.”
“I hope so,” Afinogenov said. “I got the monkey off my back a little bit tonight after that goal and I feel better. Hopefully there is more to come.”
’s shutout streak ended at 149:12 minutes when he surrendered a goal early in the first period to Atlanta forward Justin Williams.
Miller recorded two consecutive shutouts against the Washington Capitals (Nov. 1) and New Jersey Devils (Nov. 3), becoming the first Sabres’ netminder since Martin Biron in 2003 to accomplish the feat.
Miller’s previous career-high scoreless streak was 122:24 minutes in January 2003.
“What’s good about hockey is you can play tomorrow and get back at it," Derek Roy
said, following the Sabres' overtime loss.
Buffalo will leave tonight to take on the Boston Bruins in their second back-to-back games of the season.
The team will play a total of 17 back-to-back matches throughout the season.
The scenario suits head coach Lindy Ruff.
“I hate when you have the three or four days off. I’d rather have a couple days then get right back at it," he said. "When you have too many days it’s tough to ramp up to that game speed.
"I’m going to anticipate us being pretty good tomorrow night”