It's a little bit late in the season to make a statement but I think the Sabres did that tonight. It was a less than spectacular performance but it was a 5-3 win and a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs. We have talked adnaseum about the Sabres dim playoff hopes but we can continue to believe for at least one more night.
Last game the Sabres scored four times in the third period to beat the Florida Panthers 5-3. Tonight they picked up where they left off. It took only 37 seconds for Jochen Hecht to beat Curtis Joseph. Despite being outshot 14-4 in the first period the only other goal scored was a Tim Connolly shot that hit the post and the back of Joseph before going into the net.
The Sabres were outplayed by Toronto in the first period but came out flying in the second. Daniel Paille scored the Sabres third goal and Tim Connolly netted his second of the game to give the Sabres a 4-0 lead.
Maybe the Sabres let up or maybe the Leafs turned it up but that is when the game got interesting. Toronto scored a shorthanded goal in the second period and built momentum for the third.
Buffalo had a power play to start the third period but failed to convert. It seemed to really spark the Leafs and they scored twice to close the gap tp 4-3 with 11:30 left in the game. There were plenty of anxious moments over the next couple of minutes but eventually Paul Gaustad scored a goal that carromed off his leg and into the net.
Miller Wins In Return
Ryan Miller was tested at times but received help from his defense in his first game since injuring his ankle on February 21. Miller didn't seem to be slow or out of position at all. In fact, he didn't show any effects from his injury.
Miller allowed three goals but a couple goals were of the lucky variety. The theory is that there is no such thing as luck but both teams scored some goals that they may not have deserved.
Sabres Defend Miller
If you are one of the people that has been critical of the Sabres lack of toughness, the last two games have probably been good for you. It started on Wednesday when Max Afinogenov was suckered after scoring an empty net goal and it continued tonight. The Leafs were obviously going to try to get in Miller's grill but the Sabres were up to the challenge. Everytime a player from Toronto would breathe on Miller the wrong way, someone was there to push him away or in the case of paul Gaustad...drop the gloves.
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The Sabres travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. With only eight games left and trailing by five points...this could be the Sabres season.