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Wrapping Up With An OT Win

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres can finally rest their weary legs. Buffalo concluded an exhausting stretch of 10 games in 17 days at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, and in true Sabre fashion, relinquished a two-goal lead only to win an overtime thriller despite fatigue.

For the second consecutive trip to New York, Buffalo defeated the Rangers in overtime, this time by a score of 3-2. Martin Straka scored his second goal of the night with less than five remaining in regulation to tie the game and force the extra period.

"I thought tonight was going to be a night where we won 2-1, but Straka caught the top part of the net," said goaltender Ryan Miller. "I guess it's a little more exciting. Too bad we have to do things the hard way all the time, but we were able to pull it off tonight."

Buffalo will have a much needed four days rest before their next game this Friday, a rematch against the Rangers in HSBC Arena at 8 p.m.

"Hopefully, we can get a couple of days off, regroup and come back with a little more energy," said Thomas Vanek.

Chris Drury netted the game winner just a minute and 36 seconds into overtime.

Winning a face-off in New York's zone, Drury cut to the front of the net, reached and tipped Teppo Numminen's slapshot from the point over Henrik Lundqvist's left shoulder for the 31st game-winning goal of his NHL career. It was also the third time this season that Drury has scored the game winner.

"We had chances to put them away earlier in the game and we didn't," Vanek said. "Both goalies played unbelievable tonight. It just came down to one bounce and I'm glad we got it."

Both netminders, Lundqvist and Miller, where sensational, combining to stop 53-of-58 shots. Miller recorded his 12th win this season after making 25 saves.

"The crowd really gets behind their goalie," said Miller. "You want to rise up and play just as well. It's one of the bigger stages in the world, so it's always fun to come to New York."

Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov scored the regulation goals for Buffalo, who moves to 19-3-2 on the season.

After the two teams combined for 16 shots and no goals in the first period, the offensive fireworks took flight in the second with three goals in a four-minute span.

Afinogenov gave Buffalo the 1-0 lead on a power play courtesy of Blair Betts and a high-sticking penalty.

Receiving a pass from Thomas Vanek on the left wing, Afinogenov skated into the slot, used Aaron Ward as a screen on Henrik Lundqvist and fired for 12th tally of the season, giving the Russian four goals and four assists in six games since returning from injury.

Afinogenov's goal was the only score for Buffalo's power-play units in 10 man-advantage opportunities.

"Both teams created some good chances on some five-on-threes, but the two goaltenders get a lot of credit for stuffing our shots," said Vanek concerning the power play.

Less than three minutes later, Buffalo increased the lead to a pair of goals with an effective forecheck.

Intercepting Sandis Ozolinsh's clearing attempt at the blueline, Vanek skated to the net unmolested and snapped a wristshot topshelf over Lundqvist's glove at 14:11. The unassisted goal was Vanek's team-leading 16th of the season and moved him to within a goal of the league's top sniper, New York left winger Brendan Shanahan.

"Lundqvist was cheating towards [Afinogenov] on the backdoor," said Vanek. "I just put it over his shoulder."

Straka nets his 12th of the season after one timing Jaromir Jagr's pass from the right corner over Miller's right pad at 14:32.

With 4:53 remaining in regulation, Straka netted his second of the game to tie the score 2-2. Deking around Ales Kotalik in the slot, Straka fired high again on Miller's glove side.
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Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio station of the Buffalo Sabres.
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