BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 08: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres gets the puck behind Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers for the game winning goal in overtime at HSBC Arena on April 8, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo won 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It's official. We're in. It's been a LONG climb-from a lousy start and the loss of Derek Roy-but the Sabres have clinched a playoff spot in perhaps the most exciting game of the season. We don't know who we're going to be playing yet, but it's either going to be the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, or Philadelphia Flyers.
What a day. Last home game. Fan appreciation night. Sabres wearing white as eighty alums appeared after being invited by new owner Terry Pegula who, deservedly received his own introduction. Cody McCormick was named unsung hero. Tyler Ennis was named rookie of the year.
The Sabres tied it up when Nathan Gerbe potted the puck behind Sergei Bobrovsky from the point twenty-five seconds into the second. Less than four minutes later, the population in Pominville went up to 21. Of course then the Sabres gave up a short-handed goal to Kris Versteeg and the momentum seemed lost. The momentum swung in full favor of the Flyers less than forty seconds later, as former Sabre Danny Briere scored again on Enroth.
The third period opened with team MVP-Ryan Miller-between the pipes, a gutsy move by Lindy Ruff. Miller did his part and shut the Flyers down for the rest of the night. Just past the halfway point of the period Gerbe spun and scored his second of the night, his 16th of the season. Near the end of regulation the teams seemed content on playing for overtime. When the clock struck 0:00, the Sabres clinched their second-straight playoff appearance.
In overtime, Thomas Vanek put the "Austrian icing on the cake" as Rick Jeanneret called it by splitting a pair of Philadelphia defensemen and scoring his 32nd. Up next: at Columbus tomorrow night. But for now let's bask in the glow of clinching a playoff spot. What a day. What a game. Playoffs here we come!