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Refuse To Lose Two In A Row

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
One of the team's mantras for the 2006-07 season remained intact on Saturday night. Refuse to lose two games in a row.

Putting fourth a disappointing effort in their loss to Florida on Thursday night, Buffalo rebounded to earn a 3-2 victory via shootout over the Montreal Canadiens in a spirited and fast-paced contest at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. In the eight games following defeats this season, Buffalo has outscored their opposition 49-16.

Daniel Briere scored five-hole on Buffalo's first attempt in the shootout and Thomas Vanek ripped a blazing slapshot that left Montreal netminder Cristobal Huet shaking his head on the team's second attempt for the game winner. Goaltender Ryan Miller stuffed Saku Koivu and Sergei Samsonov fired wide-left as the Sabres expanded their lead over Montreal in the Northeast Division to 10 points and improved to 5-1 in shootouts this season.

"I just went for something different," said Vanek of being the second player in the NHL to score with a slapshot during a shootout. Minnesota's Brian Rolston was the first. "By winding up for the slapshot, I was hoping that [Huet] would think it was a fake. It worked out well.

"I don't think was expecting it."

Skating four a side, Jiri Novotny crashed the net and dribbled Maxim Afinogenov's rebound underneath Cristobal Huet for Buffalo's first goal of the game. Novonty's sixth goal of the season appeared to stopped by Huet, but the puck trickled between the netminder's pads and slipped over the goal line at the 6:12 mark of the second to make the score 1-0 in favor of Buffalo.

"We were much more organized in a lot of areas tonight," said Miller, who earned his 15th victory of the season after stopping 31-of-33 shots. "We did a great job bouncing back from that last game."

The fourth-best power play unit in the NHL tied the game three minutes later. Michael Ryder snapped Sheldon Souray's rebound over Miller's right pad to register his eighth goal of the season and fifth with the man advantage at 9:11.

Added Miller: "I got a good look at [Souray's] initial shot but lost it a little bit when [the rebound] went back into traffic."

Buffalo used a power play opportunity with Ryder in the penalty box to generate the team's next score.

Sustaining an offensive attack as the power play ended, Derek Roy one timed a Vanek pass shortside from the left wing at 17:45 of the second to give Buffalo the 2-1 edge. Stationed behind the net, Vanek one-timed a feed from Nathan Paetsch to Roy at the bottom of the left face-off circle to setup the center's fifth goal of the season.

Montreal tied the game again with another power-play goal. Souray faked a shot from the point, drifted deeper into Buffalo's zone and snapped a wristshot into the top-left corner of the net for his 11th goal of the season - nine of which have come with the man advantage - at 2:52 of the final frame.

The Sabres power-play unit continues to struggle against Montreal's penalty kill, failing to score on 22 opportunities against the Canadiens.
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