It's amazing how a couple of minutes can change your attitude quickly. It's not very often I give up on the Sabres but tonight I did and they proved me wrong. When the Lightning went ahead 3-1 with 6:48 remaining in regulation, I commented that it was over. Thomas Vanek had other ideas and scored three goals in under five minutes of play. Thomas Vanek scored his first of the night with 2:21 left and he scored his third at the 2:25 mark of overtime. The Sabres trailed 3-1 late in the game but managed a 4-3 victory in overtime.
I made some notes before the game ended and I changed my tune in the end. Here were my observations with five minutes left...
- Sabres blew a golden opportunity to earn two points (obviously they found a way to win so I had to change that observation)
- Derek Roy, Tim Connolly and Thomas Vanek are all really good (call it a premonition but I really wrote that down with five minutes left in the game. Those guys played well all night and in the end they were rewarded with some big goals)
- Campbell is still playing poorly (what the hell was he doing on the first goal by Chris "frigging" Gratton?)
- Nolan Pratt had a bad night but it didn't cost them anything...he was directly responsible for two really good scoring opportunities for the Lightning
- Ryan Miller still goes down way to early...no explanation necessary
- The Sabres keep getting a lot of shots but no goals to show for it...are the opposing goaltenders that good, or are they just taking really easy shots? (as it turns out Thomas Vanek figured out a way to score)
- You could sense by the look on their faces that frustration was setting in on the Sabres forwards...again Thomas Vanek changed that too.
It was a big win for the Sabres who are now tied in eighth place in the Eastern Conference again. It should also be really good for their confidence, scoring three goals late to come back and get the win. In addition to Vanek, Derek Roy and Tim Connolly also had a really good game. Lindy Ruff started by shaking up that line but he quickly reunited them because of what he termed "a lack of energy". I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Jaro Spacek made a huge play to keep the puck in the zone on the Sabres second goal.
There is no time to rest because they are back in action tomorrow night in Toronto against the Leafs. The Sabres and Leafs play four more times after tomorrow but this may be the last time that the two teams meet with the current rosters. The Leafs are expected to really shake things up before the deadline and the Sabres have a big decision to make on Brian Campbell.