Sabres Win it in Shootout Again
Buffalo came back and won via the shootout for the second time in three games and earned a very important two points to stay alive in the playoff hunt beating the Florida Panthers 3-2.
Florida took the lead 3:31 into the first on a penalty shot. Toni Lydman was called for tripping David Booth as he attempted to score on a break away but had his legs cut from underneath him by Lydman’s stick.
Booth scored on the penalty shot, making a nice deke and slipping a back hand past Ryan Miller who surrendered his first goal on a penalty shot. The goal counted as a power play. To add insult to injury, Henrik Tallinder was also called for holding during the same play and the Panthers got a power play to go with it but failed to score.
Less than two minutes into the second Tim Connolly scored his fifth of the season, unassisted, sneaking the puck past Tomas Vokoun, who finished with 21 saves in a losing effort.
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4:22 into the third, Thomas Vanek scored on the power play, smacking the puck through Vokoun’s legs off a missed shot by Jason Pominville. It was Vanek’s 28th on the year; it was also his birthday, turning 25.
Buffalo protected the lead for most of the third but allowed Nathan Horton to tie it with less than four minutes left.
Florida controlled the tempo for most of the overtime but weren’t able to score thanks to solid goal tending by Miller once again. Miller finished with 27 saves and stopped both shots he faced in the shootout to secure his 22nd win of the season and improve to 7-1 in the month of January.
Miller stopped both men who scored on him during the game: Nathan Horton on the first attempt and David Booth who couldn’t trick Miller a second time. Ales Kotalik scored on the backhand to give the Sabres the lead in the shootout and Derek Roy was able to push his shot past Vokoun’s stick to win it on the second.
“They’re [ Florida] a good team, they play hard,” said Ales Kotalik. “They’re right in the mix as we are in the playoff hunt. It’s a big win for us as we try to move ahead of the pack.”
Buffalo moved into the seventh spot in the East with their win over Carolina and increased their lead to 3 points over the Panthers who occupy the eighth slot with 50 points.
ProHockey-fans.com Buffalo Sabres Correspondent
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