March 27, 2006
by Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres skated their best game in nearly two weeks but still couldn't quite notch a win. Buffalo scored four goals for the second consecutive night, but lost 5-4 in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Monday night at Madison Square Garden after New York rallied in the third period.
"Overall, we have to be happy with our game," said Daniel Briere. "Sometimes you start with just a point and hopefully that will get us going again. I thought we deserved better than we got tonight but we've got to give them credit too, they are a really highly skilled team."
New York took the extra point in the standings after Petr Sykora beat Ryan Miller
with a quick backhander over the netminder's glove on New York's first attempt in the shootout.
Henrik Lundqvist, who replaced Kevin Weekes after he allowed four goals in two periods of work, kept Buffalo scoreless in their three breakaway attempts with a poke check on Briere, a pad save on Maxim Afinogenov and a flash of his glove on Derek Roy
"We're in a little bit of a slump and we're not getting the bounces right now," said Briere. "If we keep working like we did tonight, there is no doubt in my mind that we will get back on a winning streak again."
Entering the third period with a 4-2 lead, Buffalo did something completely out of character. For the first time this season, the Sabres relinquished a two-goal lead after allowing a power-play tally by Sykora and Jaromir Jagr's 52nd of the season.
"That's the way it's going for us," said Briere. "Before tonight, we couldn't find a way to get a lead. Finally we get a lead and we can't keep it in the third. It's not like us, but things like that happen when you're in a tough streak."
Buffalo and San Jose had been the only two teams in the NHL that had won every game they had led by two or more goals. The Sabres were 27-0-0, while the Sharks were 24-0-0. Buffalo hadn't lost when leading by a pair or more since March 13, 2004 during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins.
"We played a hard game tonight and it's tough to come out of here with a loss in a shootout," said JP Dumont. "We have to take that game, put it behind us and work just as hard on Wednesday."
Buffalo's power play finally came to life after scoring just once in their last 29 opportunities. Chris Drury recorded his team-leading 13th power-play goal in the first period and Jason Pominville
scored his 10th in the second.
Briere led the Sabres with a goal and two assists, while Drury and Dumont added a goal and an assist. Miller finished with 31 saves.
"There is only one way out and that's to keep working as hard as we can," said Briere. "If we put forth that same effort night after night, we're going to come out on top most of those nights."
Buffalo opened the scoring with some hard work by their two captains at 10:52 of the first.
Pursuing Michal Rozsival behind the Rangers net, Briere chipped the puck away from the defenseman to Drury, who curled around the left post and slipped the puck past New York netminder Kevin Weekes for his team-leading 13th power-play goal.
Martin Straka tied the game 1-1 five minutes later after redirecting Marik Malik's pass from the left point through a crowd for his 15th goal of the season at 15:11.
Just over two minutes later, Sandis Ozolinsh one-timed Steve Rucchin's feed from the left wing over Miller's right pad for a 2-1 New York lead at 17:31.
JP Dumont evened the score at 1:55 of the second after he intercepted Michael Nylander's clearing pass, cut to the front of the net and beat Weekes with a low backhander through traffic.
The goal was Dumont's first in nine games and 15th of the season. He last scored at Philadelphia on March 11.
Buffalo would take its second lead of the game at 5:06 of the second through an unselfish play by Dumont.
Receiving a pass from Drury in front of the Rangers netminder, Dumont turned and dropped a pass back to the slot to Jason Pominville
, who one-timed the feed over Weekes' glove for the power-play goal.
Briere expanded Buffalo's lead to a pair of goals with a heads-up play in front of the net.
Jay McKee's slapshot from the left point is blocked by Weekes, who gave up a short rebound, just inches away from his body. Briere smartly collected the loose puck, skated around the netminder to the far post and slipped the puck into the wide-open net for is 22nd of the season at 12:05.
The trio of Nylander, Sykora and Jaromir Jagr combined for a pair of goals in the third period to force the extra period.
Jagr one-timed Nylander's pass from the right boards to Sykora in front for the redirect and his 22nd goal of the season at 3:19.
Seven minutes later, the league's scoring leader tied the game 4-4. Controlling the puck behind the goal line, Nylander chipped a pass to Jagr behind the Buffalo net, the sniper skated to the right post and fired just over the Miller's right shoulder for his 52nd of the season.
------------------------------------- SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
1-0 (10:52): Chris Drury steals the puck from Michal Rozsival behind the Rangers net, curls around to the front and slipped the puck just inside the right post. The power-play goal is Drury's 24th of the season and team-leading 13th on the man advantage. Daniel Briere records the only assist.
1-1 (15:11): Martin Straka redirected Marik Malik's pass from the left point through a crowd and past Ryan Miller
, who never saw the puck. The power-play goal is Straka's 15th of the season. Malik and Sandis Ozolinsh get the helpers.
1-2 (17:31): Just over two minutes later, Sandis Ozolinsh one-timed Steve Rucchin's feed from the left wing over Miller's right pad for his fifth goal of the season. Rucchin and Dominic Moore get the helpers. Period 2
2-2 (1:55): JP Dumont intercepted Michael Nylander's clearing pass, cut to the front of the net and beat Kevin Weekes with a low backhander through traffic. The goal is Dumont's first in nine games and is his 15th of the season. He last scored at Philadelphia on March 11. Daniel Briere and Ales Kotalik get the helpers.
3-2 (5:06): JP Dumont received a pass from Chris Drury in front and dropped the puck back to Jason Pominville
, who one-timed the feed over Weekes' glove. The power-play goal is Pominville's 17th of the season and 10th on the man advantage. Dumont and Drury get the assists.
4-2 (12:05): Kevin Weekes stopped Jay McKee's slapshot from the left point, but Daniel Briere collected the rebound just inches in front of the netminder, skated to the far post and slipped the puck into the wide-open net. The goal is Briere's 22nd of the season. McKee gets the primary assist, while Ales Kotalik gets the secondary. Period 3
4-3 (3:19): Jaromir Jagr one-timed Michael Nylander's pass from the right boards to Petr Sykora in front for the redirect and his 22nd goal of the season. The assist is Jagr's first point of the game.
4-4 (10:16): Michael Nylander chipped a pass to Jaromir Jagr behind the Buffalo net, where the league's scoring leader skated to the right post and fired just over the right shoulder of Ryan Miller
. The goal is Jagr's 52nd of the season. Nylander and Sykora get the helpers. Overtime
No Scoring Shootout
Briere - Pulls puck to backhand, Lundqvist pokes away 0-0
Sykora - Dribbles twice, flips backhand over Miller's glove 0-1
Afinogenov - Dekes, fires forehand low that Lundqvist stops 0-1
Nylander - wristshot, Miller kicks away with right pad 0-1
Roy - Backhand, Lundqvist knocks away with glove 0-1
Jagr - Not neccessary
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.