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Sabres Escape With Shootout Victory

When all is said and done this was nothing more than a hockey game.  As it turned out, it was a really exciting hockey game but today was about a lot more than a hockey game for the people in Buffalo and throughout the country.  The game played second fiddle to the tragic plane crash near the Buffalo Airport on Thursday night.  As Kevin from Bflo Blog pointed out earlier today, most people in Buffalo were either directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those that were affected by this tragedy.

This game had everything you could ask for in a hockey game.  The emotional swings that went on this game were incredible.  The Sabres built an early 3-0 lead and seemed to be in complete control of the game.  At that point the emotion was jubilation.  The thought was WOW...we are dominating the best team in the league.  Mair, Spacek and Roy scored first period goals but Patrick Marleau scored a late first period goal to put the Sharks right back in the game.

The emotions quickly turned to nervousness as San Jose took control of the game in the second period and everything seemed to be crumbling down for the Sabres.  Despite getting thoroughly outplayed in the second period the Sabres still led 4-3 giving us fans hope that they could hang on for the victory. 

It was with tempered enthusiasm that the third period began but those thoughts quickly turned to anger.  Craig Rivet was called for a high sticking penalty, although replays clearly showed that Thorton was struck by the stick of his teammate and not Craig Rivet.  The Sharks capitalized on the opportunity and just like that the game was 4-4.  About four minutes later the Sharks took the lead and the disappointment set in. 

The Sabres had been outplayed for over 30 minutes and there was no reason to believe that they could come back and tie the game.  With four seconds left the Sabres proved me and everyone else wrong when Jason Pominville tipped a Craig Rivet shot by Evgeni Nabakov and into the net.

Both teams had chances in overtime but neither converted their opportunities.  Ales Kotalik and Drew Stafford are the Sabres best two scorers in the shootout and both were stopped by Nabakov.  Once again things looked bleak for the Sabres but big goals by Pominville and Roy and a big save by Miller gave the Sabres a 6-5 shootout victory.

Rivet Haunts his Ex-Teammates

Rivet is a veteran player that has played many games in his NHL career yet it was tonight that he had his best offensive game in the NHL.  Rivet had three assists on the night and none was more important than Pominville tipping his shot with four seconds left.  It was easy to see his emotion in the locker room after the game and rightfully so. 

Rivet was named captain by his teammates before the season and tonight he proved why he is the captain of this team.  Not only for his three assists but he was solid in his own zone as well. 

Special Teams a Factor

The Sabres 1-for-12 power play performance on Wednesday night was well chronicled.  They rebounded tonight by scoring on their first three power play opportunities.  They cooled off a bit as the game went on and finished the game 3-for-6.  On Wednesday it seemed nobody was willing to go in front of the net but that was not the case tonight.  They seemed willing to pay the price and Stafford did his best Thomas Vanek impersonation in front on the Spacek goal.

As good as the power play was, the penalty kill was equally as bad.  The Sharks had only two opportunities with the man-advantage and they converted on both.  The Sabres penalty kill has not been good in recent games after having one of the best penalty kill units in the league early in the season.

A Big Two Points

After the game on Wednesday, it was important for Buffalo to get two points tonight.  That importance was magnified when the Florida Panthers beat the New York Rangers in a shootout.  Sabres fans were hoping that game would be won in regulation to avoid the extra point but it wasn't to be.  The Panthers earned two and the Rangers earned the loser point.  Buffalo is currently tied with the Panthers at 64 points and the Rangers improved to 66 points.

Roll Call

Still not near the 222 we had on Saturday night but an impressive 170 comments from four users in this exciting game.

Roll Call: Joan O., D.O., dfderie, qdloser
Total Users: 4
Total Posts: 170

Up Next

The Sabres have a huge game on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Everyone is pretty familiar with my hate for the Canes and nothing would be more sweet than a victory on Sunday.  The Canes are currently five points behind the Sabres but play against Columbus on Saturday night.