Sabres Filet Sharks in Shootout, 6-5
Buffalo jumped on the Sharks early, taking a 3-0 lead in the first. The scoring was started by Adam Mair who beat Evgeni Nabokov top shelf. Two power play goals by Jaroslav Spacek and Derek Roy made it 3-0 and the Sharks appeared to be sinking in the water.
Patrick Marleau salvaged the period, scoring late on a San Jose power play to cut into the lead. Marleau fired a wrist shot from just inside the blue line and snuck it just over Ryan Miller’s shoulder.
Buffalo showed a gear of intensity that was seriously lacking in their back to back losses to Ottawa. They out skated the Sharks, who were in the midst of a long road trip, and forced the puck into their zone to get numerous scoring chances and notched 18 shots on goal.
The second and third period were a different story. The Sharks finally got into stride and began to beat Buffalo to the point.
Ales Kotalik scored 8 minutes into the second to make it 4-1, Buffalo’s third power play goal of the game. The Sabres were 1/12 in their last game against Ottawa Wednesday.
Patrick Marleau scored his second of the game on a backhand, his 29th of the season. Dan Boyle added one with less than a minute to go to make it just a one goal lead.
Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play to tie it at 4 just over six minutes into the third. The penalty was controversial. Craig Rivet was called for high sticking Joe Thornton who appeared to be hit in the face by the stick of one of his teammates.
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Joe Pavelski scored unassisted just about midway through the third to give the Sharks their first lead of the game and complete an incredible come back.
The game and the unthinkable appeared to be over when the Sabres snatched a miracle from the jaws of defeat. With one final chance, Craig Rivet launched a slap shot from the blue line - the puck careened off Jason Pominville’s stick, then the post and finally into the net with just 3.9 seconds left.
Rivet went to the bench with a big smile on his face, having snatched two points from the team that traded him a year ago.
After no scoring in the overtime, the shootout was an exhibition in great goal tending as Ryan Miller and Nobokov both stopped the first three shooters they faced.
Then, Jason Pominville, who scored the tying goal in the third, snapped a wrist shot over Nobokov’s glove to put Buffalo up 1-0.
Patrick Marleau came right back for the Sharks slipping a back hand past Miller.
Derek Roy beat Nobokov with a backhand of his own on the next shot and Miller stopped Milan Michalek to secure the shootout and the win.
For Buffalo, it was a much needed win in more ways than one. Not only are the Sabres fighting for a playoff spot but with the crash of a commuter plane just outside Buffalo Thursday night that claimed 30 lives, the Sabres were playing for the community as well.
“Were out there playing a sport we love to play but tonight was more for the community,” Craig Rivet said. “A lot of guys live out there and we were glad to get the win and the two points for them. Those were two points we needed.”
ProHockey-fans.com Buffalo Sabres Correspondent
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