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Sabres Steal From Montreal

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres were brutally honest about their performance on Thursday night following the game. Both players and coaches agreed, Buffalo stole a point from the Montreal Canadeins as the team snuck into overtime on some last second heroics before suffering a 3-2 loss at the hands of Alex Kovalev.

Just 39 seconds into the extra period, Kovalev, who scored a pair on the night to increase his total to five in six games against Buffalo this season, snapped a wristshot from 20-feet over Ryan Miller's right shoulder to hand Buffalo their first loss in six games.

"We played an okay first period, a very dismal second and a more determined third," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team was outscored 2-0 in the second.

"We were lucky to get a point tonight," said Jason Pominville, who tipped Ales Kotalik's shot from the point to tie the game with 27 seconds remaining in regulation. "It was the kind of night that we didn't really deserve one and we were fortunate to get one."

Montreal took the lead with three minutes remaining in the second after a Buffalo mishandle of the puck in the neutral zone and failed attempt pick up the trailer on the ensuing rush.

"Once the faceoff dropped, I realized my stick was broken, so I had to rush to the bench," said Pominville. "By the time I grabbed a new stick, I already had the puck."

Steve Begin stripped Pominville seconds after he received the feed from Brian Campbell, skated in on Ryan Miller and fired. The netminder stopped the offering with his pad as he sprawled horizontally across the crease, but gave up a rebound for Radek Bonk in the process and the lead to Montreal.

"They did a better job in the neutral zone," said Miller, who made 26 saves in defeat. "The fact that they disrupted our flow was a big part of the loss."

Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff exonerated Pominville and Miller for the play, questioning his team's commitment to backchecking on the power play.

"Well, you can take a look at another shorthanded goal that I can't find any excuses for besides determination and making sure we get back," said Ruff, whose team has given up a league high 12 shorthanded goals this season. "I don't think we got back to defend the play."

Buffalo has lived and died by forward running the point on the power play, posting a record of 28-9-3 when scoring on the man advantage and 7-6-0 when they haven't.

"I know we have been running forwards all year," said Ruff when asked if shorthanded scoring has become a concern. "I'm not placing any blame there, but I think any sense of danger we should have more people coming back."

The Sabres were outshot 12-5 in that period.

"The rest of the period was passing up opportunities," said Ruff. "I really think it looked like we were expecting an easy second period, and we tried to make the fancy plays."

Following a Brian Campbell slapshot from the high slot, Jochen Hecht fought to the front of the net, collected the rebound and fired over Huet's right pad to give Buffalo the lead 10 minutes into the contest.

Hecht left the game later with what is thought to be a sprained MCL. He is expected to miss approximately two weeks and will not be able to represent Germany in the Turin Olympics.

Montreal's Sabre killer evened the score six minutes later.

After receiving an across-ice pass from Ribeiro, Kovalev snapped a hard wristshot over the right shoulder of Miller to tie the game and his first of the night

Bonk scored to give Montreal the 2-1 lead, while Pominville sent it into overtime with his deflection.

Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
1-0 (11:59): Following a Brian Campbell slapshot from the high slot, Jochen Hecht fights to the front of the net, collects the rebound and fires the puck over Huet's right pad. The goal is Hecht's 15th of the season and his fourth on the man advantage. Thomas Vanek and Campbell get the helpers on the power-play goal.

Period 2
1-1 (4:02): Alex Kovalev received an across-ice pass from Mike Ribeiro and snapped a hard wristshot over the left shoulder of Miller. The goal is Kovalev's fourth of the season against Buffalo and his 13th of the year. Ribeiro and Francis Bouillon record the assists.

1-2 (17:34): Steve Begin forced a turnover by Jason Pominville in the neutral zone and fired a backhander on Miller, who stopped the offering but gave up a rebound for Radek Bonk. The shorthanded goal is Bonk's second of the season. Begin gets the lone helper.

Period 3
2-2 (19:33): Jason Pominville redirects Ales Kotalik's slapshot from the point with 27 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game. Drury won the draw deep in Buffalo's zone, pulled the puck back to Afinogneov, who swung the puck to Kotalik for the one-timer. The goal is Pominville's 13th of the season.

2-3 (0:39): Alex Kovalev snaps a wristshot over Miller's right shoulder for the game-winning goal and his second of the night. The tally marks Kovalev's third in two games against Buffalo and fifth of the season against the Sabres. Andrei Markov and Mike Ribeiro get the helpers.
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