November 5, 2006
By Brian Wheeler
After suffering their first regulation loss of the 2006-07 season on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres fell back into old habits on Sunday in the Big Apple.
For the fifth time during the 2006-2007 season, Buffalo came back from a two-goal deficit to claim victory, as Daniel Briere scored four minutes into overtime to give the Sabres the 4-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
"At the end of the game, it feels good to comeback like that, but we have to be careful," said Briere, who finished the game with a pair of goals and an assist. "We're not going to be able to comeback from two goals every time."
Briere is speaking from experience. Buffalo failed to erase a three-goal deficit against the Leafs on Saturday night, ultimately losing that contest 4-1.
On Sunday, the Sabres co-captain claimed the victory for Buffalo after receiving a feed from rookie Drew Stafford in the slot and firing a wristshot into the top-right corner of the net.
Regarding his game-winning tally, Briere added: "I couldn't really see the goaltender. The defenseman tried to block the shot and I was just trying to get it past him. Who knows what was going to happen after that."
Making his first NHL start, Stafford recorded the primary assist on the game winner for his first career NHL point. Recalled from the Rochester Americans late Saturday night, Stafford saw nearly 13 minutes of ice time against the Rangers and posted a plus-one rating.
The rookie took injured winger Maxim Afinogenov's spot on the Sabres third line with Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek, who scored Buffalo first goal of the game.
"Drew has really good speed," said Briere. "I have a feeling that he is going to be a very good player."
Daniel Paille was also recalled along with Stafford to round out the lineup. He skated on Buffalo's fourth line with Adam Mair and Paul Gaustad and played more than 11 minutes.
"Both guys were very good," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of Stafford and Paille. "Skating four lines gave us the opportunity to play Gaustad against their top line, which took a little pressure off [Chris] Drury."
Jason Pominville rounded out the scoring for the Sabres, tying the game midway through the third period with his ninth goal in 10 games.
For the second consecutive game, penalties shifted momentum away from Buffalo after the team seemed to control play with an early offensive burst. Carrying a one-goal lead into the second period after Vanek beat Rangers netminder Kevin Weekes with a wraparound at 3:18 of the first, the Sabres saw the Rangers convert on three of four power-play situations in the period to take a 3-1 lead.
But unlike Saturday night when the team seemed to unravel as more and more Sabres were sent to the penalty box, Buffalo regrouped and reverted to their original game plan.
"We did a better job than we did last night [against Toronto]," said Briere. "Last night, the more frustrated we got, the more penalties we took. Tonight after we took four or five penalties, we realized that's not the way we are going to win the game.
"We knew that if we could stay at even strength, we were going to get back in it."
Buffalo didn't take a single penalty in the third period.
"We had the edge and controlled in the offensive zone [during five-on-five play]," said Ruff. "We did a pretty good job with the puck and didn't give up as many opportunities."
Goaltender Martin Biron remains undefeated, claiming his third victory in as many starts with 26 saves.
Adam Mair almost netted his first goal of the season at 4:05 of the first when his breakaway attempt deflected off the right post.
Jaromir Jagr tied the game with his fifth goal of the season just 28 seconds into the second period. As the puck traveled to the corner during a New York power play, Jagr positioned himself in the slot and ripped a one-timer over Martin Biron's left pad to make the score 1-1.
With a two-man advantage, Petr Prucha brushed Jagr's rebound, which was resting against Biron's right pad, into the net to give New York their first lead of the night at 2:12 of the second.
Jagr setup Michael Nylander to increase the Rangers lead to a pair of goals midway through the second. Skating behind Buffalo's net, Jagr found Nylander cutting down the slot for the easy redirect and New York's third power-play goal of the night at 9:48.
Buffalo cuts the lead in half on their second power play of the game. Briere fired a laser one-timer from the left faceoff dot shortside on Weekes to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Rangers at 13:24 of the second.
Buffalo evened the score with a hustle play by Pominville. Entering New York's zone, Briere threw a seemingly harmless shot on net from the blueline that was bobbled by Weekes. The miscue allowed Pominville, who was crashing the net, to convert the rebound into the Sabres third goal at 8:13 of the third.
Skating down the slot, Briere accepts a pass from Stafford and snapped a wristshot into the top-right corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season and second of the night to win the game for Buffalo.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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