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Winning Streak Ends At 10

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Atlanta Thrashers were able to do something that no other team this season has been able to do. They beat the Buffalo Sabres. Well, sort of.

Buffalo rallied from four different one-goal deficits during regulation to push the game into overtime before being defeated for the first time in 10 games during a shootout, 5-4, by Vyacheslav Kozlov's lone goal.

"We didn't necessarily lose," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, whose team tied the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs' NHL record for most wins to start a season. "We just didn't win.

"We didn't take advantage of those three breakaways we got in the shootout. That was the only difference in that game."

Daniel Briere missed the net, Maxim Afinogenov's offering was kicked away and Thomas Vanek's around-the-world shot beat Atlanta's netminder but pinged off the cross bar during the two-and-a-half round shootout.

Kozlov beat Miller with a quick wristshot low stickside by a toe on Atlanta's first attempt.

"I still don't know how Kozlov's [shot] went in," said goaltender Ryan Miller, who made 32 saves in the game. "I read it. I made the move. I swear to God, I can feel it brush off my foot. It was a really nice shot, I guess.

Off the streak, Miller added: "It would have been fun to be on our own with a piece of history but we're getting mentioned with some good hockey teams. But ultimately, we're just happy with the good start because every point matters."

Skating from the ice on Saturday night, the team was in unfamiliar territory. Buffalo hadn't lost a game in HSBC Arena since Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes on May 26.

"I haven't felt this in a while," said Miller. "I'm a little pissed off, but this is how I get after any loss."

"I'm a little disappointed," said forward Jason Pominville. "We never want to lose, but we still are proud of the winning streak."

"The guys in that room were having a lot of fun [during the winning streak to start the season] and that energy spilled into the community," said Ruff. "It's great getting on a run and we're still in one. We've gotten 21 out of 22 points and we still don't have a number in the loss column. I'm proud of how hard they played and how hard they've worked."

Before leaving the rink, the team gathered at center ice and saluted the capacity crowd that was deafening throughout that night's contest. The moment was a chilling reminder of last year's unbelievable playoff run and a well-deserved tribute to the fans in attendance.

"That crowd was as good as any playoff game again tonight," said Ruff. "It was unbelievable."

"That was the loudest we're heard it since playoffs last year," said Miller. "We're having a lot of fun with our fans. You can expect more hockey like this to come so stay tuned."

Atlanta became the first team to outscore Buffalo in a period since the New York Rangers on October 14 thanks to the play of Bobby Holik.

Holik scored his fourth goal of the season and gave the Thrashers the 1-0 lead after receiving a feed from Jim Slater and slipping the puck around Miller's outstretched glove at the 5:29 mark of the first.

Intercepting Afinogenov's drop pass in Atlanta's zone, Holik raced up ice and found Scott Mellanby cutting down the slot to make the score 2-1 in favor of Atlanta at 10:29. Mellanby beat Miller with a low wristshot just inside the left post for his sixth goal of the season.

Briere extended his points streak to a personal-best 10 games with bank shot off Kari Lehtonen's left pad to tie the 1-1 at 9:45 of the first.

Vanek netted his third power-play goal of the season to tie the game 2-2 after shoveling Derek Roy's rebound past Lehtonen at 14:03 of the middle frame.

Niko Kapanen one-timed Andy Sutton's rebound off the end boards into the top of the net for his first goal and point of the season at 15:58.

Pominville tied the score 3-3 with his fifth goal in as many games after converting on a Briere rebound at 2:23 of the third.

Ilya Kovalchuk regained the lead for Atlanta after he snapped a blazing wristshot low gloveside on Miller from the high slot at 3:38 of the third.

Charging the net, Jochen Hecht slipped Pominville's rebound between Lehtonen's pads to tie the game with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
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