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Sabres Character Shows Through

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Struggling in their last two contests, the Buffalo Sabres returned to form on Saturday night. Buffalo converted on 50 percent of the team's power plays and battled back from three deficits to defeat the New York Islanders 6-4 at the Nassau Coliseum.

"We came out and played, pretty well, the way we wanted to play," stated head coach Lindy Ruff. "To go down in the third period and bounce back, showed a lot of character by the team."

Buffalo's special teams units were solid in the game, converting on four of eight man-advantage situations and killing four of five New York power plays.

"Our power play has come to life," stated Ruff of his power-play unit which ranked 19th in the league coming into the game. "You go through stretches where it doesn't go so well, we worked hard on it and it's in a pretty good grove right now.

"If it isn't the first unit, it's the second unit that's us some goals."

Ales Kotalik continued his wind run on the power play, scoring two goals on the man advantage. Jochen Hecht recorded three points (1+2) and Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere recorded a goal and an assist to extend his scoring streak to seven games (7+2=9).

"Our line played much better," said Briere of himself, Hecht and JP Dumont. "We were playing the way we did two years ago and that's the way we have to play every night."

Former Sabres captain, Miroslav Satan recorded his first goal against Buffalo at 1:23 in the first period to give the Islanders the early lead.

"We'll give Miro his goal as long as we win," said Briere. "It feels good right now to be back on the winning track and it doesn't matter how we won the game. We never quit."

Dumont answered for Buffalo, picking up a loose puck to the left of the net and jamming it home for his fourth goal of the season at 3:24.

Alexei Zhitnik scored his second goal of the season just three minutes later to put New York up 2-1, but Kotalik scored the first of his pair to even the game heading into the first intermission. Both of Zhitnik's goals this season have come against the Sabres.

In the second, Jochen Hecht gave Buffalo the lead just 50 seconds into the period, receiving the long pass from Henrik Tallinder and snapping a shot from above the left face-off circle that beat Islanders goaltender Rick Dipietro on his glove side.

The goal prompted New York to replace Dipietro with Garth Snow after he made just nine saves on 12 shots.

"The second period wasn't the best of the game for us," said Briere of Buffalo being out shot 11-6 in the period. "We missed the net a lot, but overall I thought we played ok."

The Islanders would regain the lead, 4-3, in the opening seven minutes of the third period by a pair of goals by Robert Nilsson and Alexei Yashin.

Daniel Briere scored the Sabres second power-play goal of the night at 8:29 to tie the game 4-4.

Buffalo got their second lead of the game after Tim Connolly batted a puck out of mid-air past Snow on the power play at 14:54.

Kotalik sealed the victory with his second goal at 18:28, picking up a rebound off Maxim Afingenov's shot from the right face-off circle and sliding the puck past Snow.

Making his first start of the season, Martin Biron was solid in net for Buffalo making 33 saves.

"I've said all along if Ryan (Miller) doesn't play and we put somebody else in, we need both goalies to play well," said Ruff. "We don't have the luxury of tossing a game away if our guy that has been playing doesn't play."

"It is probably the best feeling after a four-goal game that I've had in a long time," said Biron. "It was one of those games where I was a little jumpy right off the bat. I think I might have been trying to do too much out there."

Biron rebounded magnificently after allowing two goals on the first four shots that he faced.

"I talked to him in between periods and said just settle down," said Ruff. "He said he was a little skittish and that's understandable."

"I figured if I could make those two the only two that went in, we had a good chance to win," said Biron. "It wasn't the only two but the guys really battled hard."

The Sabres will return home next Wednesday to face Dominik Hasek and the Ottawa Senators in HSBC Arena at 7:00 PM.
Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
0-1 (1:23): Miroslav Satan gives the Islanders the early lead with his first goal against his former team. Arron Asham and Alexei Yashin record the assists.

1-1 (3:24): JP Dumont ties the game, picking up a loose puck to the left of the net and jamming it past Rick Dipietro. Daniel Briere and Jochen Hecht record the assists. Briere extends his points streak to seven games. His career long is eight games.

1-2 (6:13): Off the Henrik Tallinder turnover, former Sabre Alexei Zhitnik fires a shot from the point past Martin Biron. Biron was heavily screened by a group of players in front of the net. Robert Nilsson and Mike York are credited with the helpers.

2-2 (16:05): Ales Kotalik fires a bullet one timer from the left point to tie the game at two apiece. The goal is the fifth of the year and third on the power play for Kotalik. Teppo Numminen and Chris Drury get the assists.

Period 2
3-2 (0:50): Jochen Hecht rips a shot above the left face-off circle that beats Rick Dipietro on his glove side. Henrik Tallinder made a precision pass from the goal line to Hecht on the Islanders blue line. Dipietro is replaced by Garth Snow following the goal.

Period 3
3-3 (1:16): Robert Nilsson ties the game on a nice give-and-go play. Nilsson carries the puck into Buffalo's zone, passes to Alexei Yashin, who immediately returns the puck to Nilsson for the wide-open net. The goal is the first of Nilsson's NHL career. Yashin and Arron Asham record the assists.

3-4 (7:00): The Islanders regain the lead after a point shot from Brad Lukowich deflects off Alexei Yashin's skate past Martin Biron. The goal is the third point of the night for Yashin. Lukowich and Miroslav Satan are credited with the helpers.

4-4 (8:29): After a flurry of shots by Buffalo on the power play, Daniel Briere takes the puck off Jason Blake's stick in front of the net, whirls and fires a shot past Snow. It's Briere's ninth goal of the season and two point in the game. The goal is unassisted.

5-4 (14:54): After great patence cycling the puck on the power play, Brian Campbell one times a shot from the point that deflects off Jochen Hecht, hits Garth Snow and bounces up in the air. Tim Connolly bats the puck into the net out of mid-air. Campbell and Hecht record the assists.

6-4 (18:28): Ales Kotalik collects the rebound and pumps the puck into the net for his second power-play goal of the game. Maxim Afinogenov fired the initial shot through heavy traffic. Afinogenov and Dmitri Kalinin record the assists. Kotalik currently ranks second on the Sabres with six goals.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.

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