September 18, 2005
by Brian Wheeler
Head coach Lindy Ruff continued to treat the Sabres' preseason schedule like each game counted in the standings, dressing a mix of veteran talent along with young prospects against Columbus on Sunday.
The injection of experience into the lineup worked, as the team never relinquished a first period lead en route to a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Buffalo now moves to 2-0-0 in preseason play.
Ryan Miller was solid in net for Buffalo, making 37 saves in the start after spending Saturday night in the backup role. Miller shut out the Blue Jackets through two periods of play before allowing two goals in the third.
"I thought the team played well in our first road game of the year," stated Mike Ryan, who scored Buffalo's third and final goal. "We scored three strong goals and only gave up a couple of flukes."
Ryan beat Columbus goaltender, Andrew Penner on his glove side with a strong wrist shot off a Nathan Paetsch feed at 17:15 in the second period to put the Sabres up 3-0 heading into the third period.
Tim Connolly opened the scoring for Buffalo and the game at 12:18 in the first. Chris Drury and Mike Grier were credited with the assists.
The goal was a significant milestone for the Syracuse, N.Y. native who had been out of the NHL for almost two years.
Connolly's last goal in the league came on April 2, 2003 when he recorded the game-winner in Buffalo's 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers in HSBC Arena. His last goal on the road also came against the Thrashers on March 15, 2003.
Milan Bartovic added his first goal of the preseason and the team's second of the first period off a Maxim Afinogenov rebound at 19:53 to put Buffalo up, 2-0.
Sean McMorrow, who recorded 288 penalty minutes with the Rochester Americans during the 2004-05 season, took center stage in the Sabres' enforcer role on Sunday, mixing it up with Columbus left wing Jody Shelley twice. McMorrow and Shelley each won one of the two bouts.