There is a book written by American Author Studs Terckel entitled Hope Dies Last. Hope is exactly what the Sabres have after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night. After dropping their previous two games the Sabres are no longer in control but they still have hope.
It was a rather uneventful game for almost the entire first period. The Leafs took a 1-0 lead in the first period but it was difficult to say that either team was playing at their best. It seemed that the Sabres were playing like they knew that their season was hanging by this game.
Give the Sabres some credit tonight because they found a way to battle back and earn the victory. Although they didn't play a great game they never quit and eventually it paid off on the scoreboard.
It was a second period power play goal that got the Sabres on the board but it was third period goals by Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad that gave the Sabres the lead. The two third period goals and some excellent goaltending by Ryan Miller that sealed the victory and kept hope alive for at least another 24 hours.
Jason Pominville deserves a lot of credit for the Sabres victory tonight. He scored the first goal on the power play and he took a hard hit before setting Vanek up with the eventual game winner. Pominville has been critcized all season, and sometimes it was warranted, but tonight he was one of the better forwards on the team.
Special Teams Respond
The Sabres special teams have not been good in recent games but tonight they were a large factor in the outcome of the game. The Sabres took three penalties in both the first and second periods but killed off all six Toronto power plays.
The power play was good as well. They had only two power plays all night and the first was cut short by a Thomas Vanek tripping penalty. They responded by scoring just nine seconds into the second power play to tie the game.
Miller Making a Difference
We have talked a lot about the injury to Ryan Miller being a large factor in the Sabres potentially missing the playoffs. Tonight he showed that he makes a difference in the Sabres lineup. After allowing a first period goal he shut the door the rest of the night. In all he made 32 saves and 25 over the final 40 minutes.
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It's another do-or-die game on Thursday night in Carolina. The Canes have won 12 in a row on home ice so it won't be easy for the Sabres. They may have to play their best game of the entire season to come away with two points but any less will be the season.