Coming off an unlikely deep playoff run the previous spring, the Buffalo Sabres entered the 2006-07 season with confidence.
They kicked off the campaign with 10 straight wins, tying an NHL record for the best start to a season. The Sabres went on to win the Presidents' Trophy that year with 113 points and the best record in the NHL.
Tonight, fans can watch the 10th win of that streak all over again on MSG starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday's edition of "Sabres Classics" will focus on Buffalo's 3-0 road win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 26, 2006.
"I just think we felt like we could put goals up," goaltender Ryan Miller told Sabres.com back in 2016. "When we needed to, we could turn it on. That was the biggest thing. Those two seasons, as they combine from one season into the next, we felt really good about the group and that's what you can do when everything's in place."
The game will re-air on MSG multiple times tonight and tomorrow and will also be available on the MSG Go app. Tomorrow afternoon, check the official Sabres YouTube channel for the game.
Setting the stage
Video: 2000s Night Video Open
The Sabres fed off a run to the Eastern Conference Finals the year before. The 2005-06 Sabres made it to Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes, but an insurmountable number of injuries - especially on defense - eventually took their toll. Although they carried a lead into the third period of Game 7, Carolina managed to come back and punch their ticket to play the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final.
After a summer of wondering what could have been, Buffalo started the regular season in Raleigh, where they watched the Hurricanes raise their Stanley Cup Champions banner to the rafters.
"I think there was a little bit of carry over," Miller said. "We felt like we could beat teams. We started in Carolina, so going back and getting that shootout win, it kind of just rolled from there."
In Carolina, co-captain Chris Drury tied the game with under five minutes to play and the Sabres went on to win that game 3-2 in a shootout. They then ripped off nine more wins in a row. Three of those 10 wins came in a shootout. Two of those wins happened during the infamous October Storm when a blizzard shut down Western New York.
Buffalo remained in first place for the entirety of the season and at the end of the year, their 53-22-7 record was enough to claim the first Presidents' Trophy in team history.
Capping off the win streak
Miller made 29 saves at Nassau Coliseum that night to earn his first of two shutouts that season. Maxim Afinogenov posted a goal and an assist in the win. He assisted on Ales Kotalik's power-play goal in the first period and then tallied early in the second.
Daniel Briere entered the game on an eight game-point streak and was able to extend it when he picked up the primary assist on Jason Pominville's early third-period goal.
Through 10 games, Afinogenov found himself tied with Marian Hossa for the NHL lead with 16 points (6+10). Drury was tied with Hossa for the most goals in the NHL with 10 while Briere was two off the league lead with 11 assists. Afinogenov, Drury, Vanek and Briere were all among the NHL's Top 15 scorers at the time.
What happened next
The team's win streak ended two night later with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, but the point streak lasted a total of 12 games after they defeated the Boston Bruins 5-4 in a shootout on Nov. 2.
Briere, Miller, defenseman Brian Campbell and coach Lindy Ruff all represented the Sabres at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game. Briere was named the MVP of the game.
Miller ended up with 40 wins that year and the team was also led by co-captains Briere (95 points) and Drury (37 goals), and a formidable third line consisting of Vanek (43 goals), Afinogenov (61 points in 56 games) and center Derek Roy (42 assists).
The Sabres returned to the Eastern Conference Finals that season after knocking off the Islanders and the Rangers (more on that series later this week), but ran out of steam and were eliminated in five games by the Ottawa Senators.