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Sabres Hold Back Avalanche

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
One of Buffalo's team goals for the 2005-06 season was not to lose two games in a row.

After a sluggish performance by the team on Friday night that saw their five-game winning streak ended by San Jose, the Buffalo Sabres rebounded on Sunday to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 despite relinquishing a three-goal lead.

"We went into a defensive shell in the second period and didn't play the way we wanted to," said center Derek Roy. "Guys were battling at the end and it was really desperate game. We'd been playing well for the past month, so we didn't really want to let this one slip through our fingers."

The power-play unit bailed out Buffalo, scoring on just their second man-advantage opportunity - first full two minute power play - of the game at 17:33 of the third period for the game-winning goal. Roy backhanded Jason Pominville's rebound between the legs of Colorado goaltender Peter Budaj for the power-play goal and the 5-4 lead.

The Sabres' five-game road winning streak was extended to six games with the win.

"We wanted to come out really strong and set the tone," said Roy. "I think we did that in the first period."

Buffalo's offense exploded in the first, scoring four goals and outshooting Colorado 16-9. Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville and Mike Grier each beat Colorado goaltender David Aebischer as the first intermission began with the Sabres leading 4-1.

"It's been tough seeing guys do down with injuries, especially our leaders like Daniel Briere and JP Dumont," said Roy. "We definitely miss those guys, but the guys from Rochester - Chris Thorburn, Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad and myself - have come into the mix."

Thorburn recorded his first career NHL point with an assist on Gaustad's goal.

Karlis Skrastins was the only Avalanche player to beat Sabres goaltender Martin Biron in the opening period after one-timing Joe Sakic's pass from behind the net.

Giving up four goals off 16 shots in the first was a little too much for Colorado, prompting the Avalanche to replace Aebischer with Budaj at the beginning of the second period.

Colorado continued to press in the second, managing to cut Buffalo's lead to two with a power-play goal from Rob Blake with two minutes left before the second intermission following a hooking penalty by Brian Campbell.

Two goals in the opening ten minutes of the third by Colorado tied the game 4-4. Alex Tanguay redirected Sakic's across-ice pass for his 10th goal of the season at 6:49, while rookie Marek Svatos' successfully completed his penalty shot attempt after getting pulled down by Brian Campbell on a breakaway.

Chris Drury sealed the victory with an empty net goal with only four seconds remaining in regulation.
Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
1-0 (2:45): Just after a line change, Paul Gaustad collects Chris Thorburn's pass, which was redirected by Rob Blake's stick in front of the net, and snaps a wristshot past David Aebischer. The goal is Gaustad's fifth of the season. Thorburn records his first NHL assist/point on the play.

1-1 (11:46): Joe Sakic stops behind Buffalo's net, slides a pass to Karlis Skrastins on the left wing for the one-timer and game-tying goal. Skrastins' shot beat Martin Biron on the short side for his second goal of the season. Sakic and Milan Hejduk get the helpers.

2-1 (14:25): On an odd-man rush, Jochen Hecht fires a forehand shot from the right wing that sneaks between David Aebischer's blocker and the left post. It's the second short-handed goal of the season for Hecht. Tim Connolly and Henrik Tallinder record the assists.

3-1 (17:05): Jason Pominville rips a bullet-shot from the center of the right face-off circle that hits the right post and deflects over the goal line. The goal is Pominville's second of the season and his NHL career. Tim Connolly records the only assist.

4-1 (18:46): David Aebischer gets caught outside the crease as Jochen Hecht sends a pass to Mike Grier for the open-net goal. The tally is Grier's third of the season. Hecht gets the only assist for his second point of the game.

Period 2
4-1 (20:00): David Aebischer is replaced by Peter Budaj.

4-2 (18:00): Rob Blake fires a slapshot from the point that beats Martin Biron low on his stick side. The power-play goal is Blake's sixth of the season. Liles and Tanguay get the helpers.

Period 3
4-3 (6:49): Alex Tanguay deflects Joe Sakic's pass across the crease past Martin Biron to cut the Sabres lead to one. Sakic and Milan Hejduk get the assists.

4-4 (8:51): Marek Svatos ties the game at four, beating Martin Biron five-hole on a penalty shot after being pulled down by Brian Campbell on a breakaway. The goal is his 13th of his rookie season.

5-4 (17:33): Derek Roy backhands Jason Pominville's rebound between the legs of Peter Budaj for the Sabres first power-play goal of the game. The man-advantage was just the second of the game for Buffalo. Pominville and Thomas Vanek get the assists.

6-4 (19:56): Empty netter by Chris Drury seals the game.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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