February 7, 2006
by Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres ended one streak in order to continue another. With a pair of power-play goals by Maxim Afinogenov, including the overtime game winner, Buffalo extended its winning steak to six games with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Afinogenov's two goals snapped a three-game scoreless streak on the man advantage for the Sabres, who had failed to convert on 15 consecutive power plays, and improved Buffalo's record to 18-3-0 when scoring two or more power play goals.
"We knew we were up against a desperate team that had won their last two games and were trying to gain some ground in the playoff race," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought (Chris) Drury made one heck of a play getting the puck back to (Afinogenov) and he just put it in."
Just 30 seconds into the extra period, Afinogenov notched the game-winner with a two-man Buffalo advantage after Drury's pointblank shot was stuffed by Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet and the Sabres co-captain found the right wing with an across-ice pass after being leveled.
"I don't exactly know what happened with (Drury) but the puck ended up on my stick and I just shot it in," said Afinogenov, who also scored the overtime winner against Anaheim on the power play on December 8. "We got the two-man advantage in overtime and the power play saved our game today."
Montreal went two-men down in the final seconds of regulation when Saku Koivu was whistled for holding Toni Lydman's stick and Steve Begin for a high stick on Brian Campbell.
With the secondary helper on the winner, Teppo Numminen broke a dubious 58-year-old NHL record with his 30th assist of the season, the highest assist total in NHL history without scoring a goal from the start of the season. Toronto's Jimmy Thomson set the original record during the 1947-48 season with no goals and 29 assists.
Afinogenov scored his first of the game and ended Huet's shutout streak at seven periods, to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead six minutes into the contest.
Receiving a pass from Derek Roy
on the left wing, Afinogenov cut to the net and flipped a backhander in the short side of the net for his 13th of the season, seventh on the man advantage and 36th point.
"JP (Dumont) was on the backdoor and (Sheldon) Souray just moved over to take him," said Afinogenov. "I just stepped into the open space and took the shot.
"When I scored that goal, I didn't even see the puck go into the net. After I saw that it was in, I kind of did a slow motion celebration."
The Canadiens would answer five minutes later, converting on an odd-man rush following a Buffalo turnover at Montreal's blueline.
Tomas Plekanec broke on the two-on-one and flipped a pass over Jason Pominville
's stick to Chris Higgins, who snapped a one-timer into the top right corner of the net. Miller attempted to make a sprawling save but couldn't gain position at the left post in time, as the Sabres gave up its 11th shorthanded goal of the season.
The Sabres rookie netminder was sensational in net, allowing two goals on 32 shots.
"Miller had to make some big saves for us," said Ruff. "Overall, I thought we skated well, and for the most part, I liked the way we played."
With just six seconds remaining in the second, Roy won a faceoff deep in Montreal's zone and tips Campbell's shot from the point past Huet for his seventh of the season.
"Anytime you can score in the last few seconds of a period, it does a lot of damage to the other team and their psyche," said Ruff. "They had some momentum and had gotten the shorthanded goal, and then for us to win that draw and score with six seconds left ... as a coach it's a killer, as a team you walk into the dressing room deflated."
Montreal tied the game with less than four minutes remaining in regulation as Alex Kovalev snuck behind the Buffalo defense, skated in one-on-one against Miller and beat the netminder with a hard wristshot on his glove side for his third goal of the season against Buffalo.
------------------------------------------------------ SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
No scoring Period 2
1-0 (5:43): With Buffalo's first power-play goal in three games, Maxim Afinogenov ends Cristobal Huet's shutout streak at seven periods. Receiving a pass from Derek Roy
on the right wing, Afinogenov cuts to the net and flips a backhander into the back of the net. The goal is Afinogenov's 13th of the season, seventh on the man advantage and 36th point. Roy records the primary assist, giving him 19 on the season, while JP Dumont gets the secondary.
1-1 (10:11): Following a Buffalo turnover at Montreal's blueline, Tomas Plekanec breaks on an odd-man rush and flips a pass over Jason Pominville
's stick to Chris Higgins, who snaps a one-timer into the top right corner of the net. Ryan Miller
attempted to make a sprawling save to the left post but couldn't gain position in time. The goal is Higgins' seventh of the season. Plekanec gets the primary helper, while Mathieu Dandenault gets the secondary.
2-1 (19:54): Off a faceoff win by Derek Roy
in Montreal's zone, Brian Campbell fires a quick slapshot that is tipped by Roy past Huet to regain the Buffalo lead with just six seconds remaining in the period. The goal is Roy's sixth of the season. Campbell and Teppo Numminen get the helpers. Period 3
2-2 (16:24): Alex Kovalev snuck behind the Buffalo defense, skated in one-on-one against Miller and beat the netminder with a hard wristshot on his glove side. The goal is Kovalev's 12th on the year and third this season against Buffalo. Mike Ribeiro gets the lone helper. Overtime
3-2 (0:30): With a two-man advantage to start overtime, Huet stops Chris Drury with a diving save but the Sabres co-captain slide the puck to Afinogenov at the right post for the tough angle shot. The game-winner was Afinogenov's second of the contest and 14th of the season. Drury and Numminen get the helpers.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio station of the Buffalo Sabres.