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Sabres Win a Thriller

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
In a game dominated by penalties and power plays, the third ranked man-advantage unit in the league came through in the clutch again. Chris Drury backhanded Daniel Briere's rebound between Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's legs on the power play to give Buffalo the 4-3 victory in overtime at the Mellon Arena on Friday night.

"The guys that were out there on the four-on-three did a great job," said Drury of Briere, Ales Kotalik and rookie Jason Pominville. "Daniel had an extremely hard shot that Fleury made a good save on, but the rebound was there.

"I just tried to whack it five-hole. The puck found an opening and crossed the line."

On a squad that stresses a team-first attitude it was no surprise three of the leaders of the team - Drury, Briere and Kotalik - joined for the game-winning marker.

The three have combined for 37 points on the man advantage this season and created havoc all night for Pittsburgh, as Drury and Kotalik each finished with three points while Briere had two.

"He made a couple of great plays to find lanes for breakaways," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of Drury's play. "Overall, his line - Drury, Mike Grier and Jochen Hecht - from a penalty killing and special team's standpoint, played a very solid game."

"I felt like I had some good legs tonight," said Drury. "Our line was playing great and it was fun to play with those guys."

After going 0-5 in the opening period on the man advantage, the Sabres power-play unit went a perfect 3-3 in the final three periods of play.

"One thing that's different with us is that it's not just one power-play unit, it's two," said Ruff. "When you're getting that many power-play chances, and you have a second unit that is effective and can score goals, it's made the difference for us.

"Teams that have that one-main unit and spend a lot of time on the power play can sometimes struggle. We've got the confidence to send out either the (Derek) Roy unit or the Drury unit, and we know that both have been getting the job done."

The win marks the third time Buffalo has defeated the Penguins by a score of 4-3 this season, while the win increases Buffalo's overtime record to 4-0. The team is also 12-5-1 in one-goal games.

"Part of our power-play scheme is to get the other team in their box, move the puck around until we get them settled down and attack," said Ruff. "They have the confidence - even when we're at home and you can hear the fans saying 'shoot the puck' - to execute the game plan."

Sabres goaltender Martin Biron continued a personal streak, winning 12 consecutive starts, and a team streak, eight straight road victories, with 24 saves.

"For such a young team, our road play has been pretty good," said Drury. "It's something we had a lot of meetings about at the beginning of the year and something that we've really focused on."

After a scoreless first period that saw just 17 shots fired on net, the Sabres and Penguins combined for five goals in the second.

"The first seven minutes (of the game) belonged to them, but if it wasn't for their goaltender in the second period, we had nine or ten great opportunities," said Ruff.

Buffalo began the period with a two-man advantage after Penguins defenseman Dick Tarnstrom was penalized for hooking Briere as the Sabres co-captain was driving to the net at 19:16 of the first. Center Shane Endicott entered the box after cross checking Maxim Afinogenov at 19:52.

Pittsburgh killed Tarnstrom's penalty but paid for Endicott's infraction. Briere stickhandled through two defensemen and fired a shot on goal that slide between Fleury's blocker and the left post for his sixth power-play goal of the season. Drury and Kotalik were a part of the play, recording assists.

Two minutes later, Pittsburgh answered with their first of two man-advantage goals in the game. Michel Ouellet slapped Mark Recchi's rebound in front of the net past Biron for his first career NHL goal.

Buffalo regained the lead when Jochen Hecht fired a laser from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Fleury on the short side at 8:05.

Ryan Malone tied the game 2-2 at 17:11 on Pittsburgh's seventh power play of the game. Malone snapped a wristshot from the right wing that snuck inside the left post.

With only 52 seconds remaining before the second intermission, Buffalo notched the team's second goal during the period on the man advantage in as many opportunities.

Defenseman Brian Campbell faked a shot from the left point and slid an across-ice pass to Kotalik, who snapped a wristshot past Fleury for his 15th goal of the season and10th on the power play. Drury recorded the secondary assist.

The multi-goal performance marked the 13th instance out of 32 games Buffalo has scored two or more power-play goals in a contest.

With the only goal of the third period, Pittsburgh tied the game 3-3 and ultimately sent it into overtime. Receiving a pass from Sidney Crosbie, Ziggy Palffy fired a shot that Biron seemed to catch before crossing the goal line. After a long review by the referees, the goal was allowed.
Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
No Scoring.

Period 2
0-0 (20:00): Buffalo begins the second period with a two-man advantage after Dick Tarnstrom was penalized for hooking Daniel Briere as he was driving to the net at 19:16 and Shane Endicott for cross checking Maxim Afinogenov at 19:52. Both infractions occurred in the closing minute of the first period.

1-0 (1:26): Daniel Briere stickhandles through two Penguins defenseman and first a shot that slides between goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker and the left post. The goal is Briere's 14th of the season and sixth on the man advantage. Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik record the assists.

1-1 (3:28): Michel Ouellet answers for Pittsburgh with his first career NHL goal. Ouellet converted on Mark Recchi's rebound that skipped directly in front of the net. Erik Christensen records the secondary assist, while Recchi is credited with the primary.

2-1 (8:05): Jochen Hecht fires a laser from the top of the face-off circle that beats Fleury on the short side. The goal is Hecht's seventh of the season. The tally is the first even-strength goal of the game and was assisted by Jay McKee.

2-2 (17:11): Ryan Malone ties the game on Pittsburgh seventh power play of the game. Malone snapped a wristshot from the right wing that just clears inside the left post for his sixth goal of the season. Tomas Surovy and Ryan Whitney get the helpers.

3-2 (19:08): Brian Campbell fakes a shot from the left points and slides an across-ice pass to Ales Kotalik, who snap a wristshot past Fleury. The goal is Kotalik's 15th of the season and 10th on the power play. Campbell and Chris Drury record the assists.

Period 3
3-3 (17:43): Ziggy Palffy receives a pass from Sidney Crosby at the right post and snaps a wristshot that Martin Biron seemed to save. After a long review, it was decided that the puck had crossed the goal line before Biron caught it with his glove. The goal is Palffy's 11th of the season. Mario Lemieux receives the second assist.

4-3 (1:32): Chris Drury punches Daniel Briere's rebound between Fleury's legs for another Buffalo power-play goal and the game-winner. The goal is Drury's 10th of the season and third point of the game. Briere and Ales Kotalik record the assists.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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