The feel-good story of Chris Drury's return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup didn't go exactly as planned.
Out skated and out worked for the majority of the contest, Buffalo saw its three-game winning streak concluded by a desperate team that is fighting for its playoff life.
Wojtek Wolski gave the Colorado Avalanche the 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres with a deflection less than two minutes into the third period. Buffalo was out gunned 12-4 in the final frame after falling behind.
It was a disappointing performance for head coach Lindy Ruff after seeing his team earn a league best 21 of a possible 26 points since Feb. 1.
"We made some uncharacteristic mistakes," said Ruff. "All of the goals were mistakes that started with mental and ended up in our own net."
Turnovers and Colorado's suffocating defense limited Buffalo to just 21 shots, the team's lowest total since it's 3-2 loss at New Jersey more than a month ago.
"We knew they were going to be waiting with three guys, some times four," said Jason Pominville of Colorado's sit-back style. "We just weren't up to getting pucks deep and not turning them over. We tried to make the nice plays and it ended up costing us."
Despite missing the last four games with concussion-like symptoms from a blindside hit by Ottawa's Chris Neal, Drury didn't ease back into the lineup. Skating in every possible situation, Drury's 18:36 of ice time was third among Sabres forwards.
He finished the night with three shots, a minus-one rating and won an unthinkable 81 per cent of his draws.
"I felt pretty good and got the cobwebs out in the first shift," said the Sabres co-captain.
"We have to be willing to dump it in and play ugly," said Drury, who received an ovation from the capacity, partisan crowd in HSBC Arena.
Nathan Paetsch's quick wristshot from the point gave Buffalo the early lead two minutes intot the game. Paetsch's second goal in as many games changed its path halfway to the net after striking a Colorado defenseman.
Milan Hejduk's first shorthanded goal of the season, fourth of his career, tied the game with 12 minutes remaining in the first.
With nine seconds left in Buffalo's power play, Hejduk one-timed Paul Stasny's pass from behind the net over Ryan Miller's glove for his 27th of the season. Miller took his 13th loss of the season with 26 saves.
"Those are big momentum changes," said Drury. "You don't want to give those up."
Off the opening face-off of the second, Brett McLean gave Colorado the lead, one-timing Hejduk's pass from behind the net at 0:12.
Daniel Briere fired a wristshot into a crowd in front of the net and got the lucky bounce he was looking for to tie the game 2-2 at 12:43 of the second. Pominville was credited with his 27th goal of the season, as the feed deflected off his skate, extending his scoring streak to nine games (4+7=11).
Joe Sakic fired a centering pass that deflected off Wolski cutting down the slot to give Colorado their second lead of the game, 3-2, at 1:41 of the third. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- SCORING SHEETS Game Summary | Super Stats | Face-offs | Play-by-Play | Shift Chart