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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
Nathan Gerbe continued to be a factor for the Sabres in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win over Montreal, and this time he did it without recording a point.

After picking up a goal and an assist over the last three games and seeing his ice time increase in each of those outings, Gerbe found a way to make a difference in 12:52 of ice time during Tuesday’s game.  In addition to posting three shots on goal and two hits, Gerbe also drew the penalty that resulted in the game-winning goal.

During a third period scrum that developed following a collision between Canadiens captain Brian Gionta and Ryan Miller, Gerbe wound up on top of Montreal center Scott Gomez as the two players scrapped and received matching roughing minors.  Once they were out of the penalty box, Gomez took a retaliatory shot at Gerbe and was whistled for high-sticking.  The ensuing power play extended into overtime and led to Jason Pominville’s game-winner.

When somebody is working that hard, you notice them. You can build off that, you’ve got to feel good about that. I think everybody recognizes that he was an important player in our game last night. - Head Coach Lindy Ruff on Nathan Gerbe
Following the victory, Head Coach Lindy Ruff talked about how pleased he was with Gerbe’s all-around effort.

“I thought Gerbe might have been one of our hardest workers in the game,” said Ruff.   “His back-checking, he was under the skin of a few guys.  That’s the type of tenacity you need to see out of Nathan because he made a difference in the game.  Maybe not on the scoresheet, but he made a difference with a lot of different plays away from the puck and with the puck.”

On Wednesday, Ruff reiterated how important a role Gerbe played in the win while crediting the forward’s passion, energy and discipline.

“When somebody is working that hard, you notice them.  You can build off that, you’ve got to feel good about that.  I think everybody recognizes that he was an important player in our game last night.”

After practice, Gerbe said he is happy to contribute in any way he can to help the team win games.

“You’re never satisfied, obviously you always want to be better… but I’m happy with how I played.  It’s obviously good to get the two points for our team and we can move forward from there,” Gerbe said. “You’ve got to do something every night to help your team.  It doesn’t matter what it is – blocked shots, great defensive zone play or scoring.  Whatever it is, you just have to try to do something every night.”
Drew Stafford (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Video: Drew Stafford
Stafford Sidelined: The Sabres will likely be without Bruin killer Drew Stafford for Thursday’s game in Boston after the forward suffered a groin injury in Tuesday’s win over Montreal.  Following practice on Wednesday, Ruff said the groin pull was mild and that Stafford is listed a day-to-day.

“It looks mild, which would put him as day-to-day. I would say he’s doubtful for tomorrow and probably the next game, but I wouldn’t anticipate too much more time with the way he’s feeling today,” Ruff said.

With Stafford expected to miss some time, Ruff said the team was discussing which player to recall from Portland to take Stafford’s spot and mentioned Marc-Andre Gragnani, Paul Byron and Matt Ellis as possible candidates to join the team in Boston.

Stafford has picked up a hat trick in each of the last two games against the Bruins, both of which were Buffalo victories.

On Dec. 15, Stafford made his return from an upper body injury and provided all of Buffalo’s offense in a 3-2 win over Boston for his third career hat trick.  Just 17 days later, he posted another hat trick against the Bruins in the Sabres’ 7-6 shootout win.  Stafford also scored a goal in the first meeting between the Northeast Division rivals back on Nov. 3, giving him seven goals in three games against the Bruins this season.

Another Back-to-Back: Despite being slated for a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games this season, the month of January has been relatively kind to the Sabres.  Over the next two days, the team will play its only back-to-back set of the month when they play at Boston on Thursday and home against the Islanders on Friday.

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