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Sabres Win 4th Straight in Shootout

 

 

Ryan Miller was the workhorse once again, making 43 saves and stopping 3 shootout shots to secure a 2-1 victory over the suddenly pedestrian Rangers.

Paul Mara gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with just 37 seconds left in the first period when his shot from the right point deflected off Derek Roy and slipped past Miller.

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Derek Roy extended his point streak to four games as he scored the only goal in regulation for the Sabres on a rebound off back up goalie Steve Valiquett. It was only the eighth start of the season for Valiquett (4-4) who made 32 saves and was particularly sharp in the third period, stopping all 16 shots he faced.

The game was relatively free of penalties with only two called – both to the Sabres but the Rangers were unable to convert on either power play.

Buffalo struggled mightily to keep the puck out of their own zone as they have most of the season and had to rely on heads up play from Miller.

The Sabre’s offense was stagnant through the first two periods, managing just 13 shots on goal. They were out shot 14-6 in the second, including 11-1 for the first fifteen minutes. They finally woke up and got 5 shots near the end of the period including their only goal.

They picked things up in the third and out shot NY 16-12 but couldn’t put one past Valiquett.

The two teams were even in the overtime with 4 shots apiece.

Ales Kotalik was the only man to score in the shootout, slipping a wrister past Valiquett on the first shot attempt.

Nikolai Zherdev, Markus Naslund, and Chris Drury were all stoned by Miller who had his highest save total of the season.

The Rangers now drop to 24-15-4 and remain a point behind the resurgent Flyers after starting the season 10-2-1.

Buffalo Center Tim Connolly, who’s missed most of the season due to a fractured rib and broken vertebra, returned for the first time since November 14. He played heartily through fifteen and half minutes but didn’t have the timing and showed clear rust from the long lay off.

The Sabres won their fourth straight game for the first time since starting the season 4-0. They improve to 21-15-5 at the mid point of the season. They begin a three game road trip tomorrow in Detroit and will be away for nine of their next ten games.

 

Erich Straub
ProHockey-fans.com Buffalo Sabres Correspondent

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