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Sabres Notch Impressive Win

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
It was a long awaited homecoming for the Buffalo Sabres. A total of 551 days had passed since the last home game in HSBC Arena, and the team didn't disappoint the 15, 702 fans in attendance as they rolled to a 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders in the opening game of the 2005-06 regular season.

"I thought it was a heck of a game, but first of all I'd just like to thank every fan that was in the building tonight or that turned a radio or TV that's been rooting for us," stated Sabres' head coach Lindy Ruff. "After that amount of time off, I thought they gave us a heck of a reception, were into the game and I thought they were the deciding factor in the contest."

"For the fans to come back in that type of fashion was awesome," continued Ruff. "I don't know who was picked for the first star but I'd switch that to our fans, all of them."

Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere was named the First Star of the game as he notched two goals and an assist, while Maxim Afinogenov was the Third Star with a pair of goals.

"I think it's good to start with a big win like that to get us going a little bit," said Briere.

JP Dumont and Brian Campbell recorded individual markers for Buffalo, as the Sabres never trailed in contest and always seemed to answer when New York would chip away at their lead.

Following the game, Ruff stated that it was the team's attitude and perseverance that kept them ahead and that he believes the Sabres will outwork anyone else.

"I thought we could have skated a little better in a few parts of the game where we had some let downs, but overall we played really solid and Ryan Miller made the big saves," agreed Briere.

Miller recorded the victory and 21 saves, including nine in the third period. Of the four goals he allowed, one came from a familiar face in an unconventional fashion.

Skating through the neutral zone, former Sabre Alexei Zhitnik flipped the puck into Buffalo's zone. The puck took a strange hop off the chewed-up ice and shot past an off-guard Miller.

"It wasn't a very smart play and I'm not going to make excuses," stated Miller. "I was looking to make a play ahead of the goal line, reached out to stop the puck and got a little flat footed. Maybe I should let those go from now on."

Zhitnik's goal was the only point for either of the two former Sabres on the Islanders' roster. Miroslav Satan failed to score and took two costly penalties in the final five minutes of play.

"To be very honest, I didn't want Miro to score," said Ruff jokingly. "(Zhitnik) can have the goal he had."

Buffalo next game is this Friday, October 7 against the Boston Bruins in HSBC Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 PM and the contest has been designated as a SILVER game.


Period 1
1-0 (3:11): Toni Lydman's shot from the point rebounds off two Islanders and is tipped in by JP Dumont. The shot was Buffalo's first of the season. Daniel Briere is credited with the other helper.

1-1 (6:40): Chris Campoli knocks in a rebound past Miller to tie the game at one apiece. Trent Hunter and Mike York get the assists.

1-1 (10:33): Thomas Vanek gets his first scoring chance of the season, fires five hole but is stuffed by Rick DiPietro.

1-1 (0:00): Ryan Miller and DiPietro each finish the period allowing a power-play goal on 10 shots. Buffalo is penalized four times for eight minutes while New York only spent four minutes in the box.

Period 2:
2-1 (5:57): Daniel Briere takes the puck end-to-end and beats DiPietro in the five hole just as the Sabres were coming off the power play. The goal is the first even strength marker for the Sabres of the season and was unassisted.

2-2 (13:53): Brent Sopel passes the puck to Alexei Yashin, who redirects the puck low on Miller for the Islanders second goal. Yashin was stationed in the crease.

3-2 (15:34): Brian Campbell fires a shot from the point as a cluster of Islanders was in front of the net. DiPietro never saw the high shot from Campbell. Chris Drury and Teppo Numminen each record their first points of the season with the assists.

3-2 (0:00): We almost have an old-fashion goalie fight as DiPietro comes out of his crease and Miller skates the full length of the ice. The two jawed and were seperated by the linesmen.

Period 3
4-2 (2:37): Thomas Vanek fires a pass across ice to Maxim Afinogenov and the Russian tips the puck past DiPietro to extend the Sabres lead to two. The assist was the first point of Vanek's career. Jochen Hecht was credited with the other marker.

4-3 (9:37): Alexei Zhitnik flips the puck into the zone from the red line, it takes a bad bounce and floats past an unsuspecting Ryan Miller. The goal was the first of the season and night for the former Sabre.

5-3 (10:22): Off the face-off, JP Dumont fires a shot that is blocked by DiPietro. Briere collects the rebound for his second goal of the game. Dumont records the only assist as Buffalo''s lead extends to two.

5-4 (13:35): Jason Blake beats Miller on a shot from the point. The goal is the first of the game/season for the defenseman. Miller never saw the shot as he was screened. Mike York and Brent Sopel each record their second assist of the game.
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