300 For Ruff; 100 For The Team
Wednesday, 04.05.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
On the game-tying goal, defenseman Brian Campbell made arguably the best play of his career thus far. Controlling the puck at the right point, Campbell faked a slapshot twice - getting Jason Spezza to dive first and then Daniel Alfredsson - and found Briere with an across-ice pass through traffic on the backdoor.
"Our eyes met right when (Campbell) had it at the blue line," said Briere, who finished the game with three points. "I could tell he was just waiting for the lane to open."
As Derek Roy pulled through the slot, and subsequently took a defenseman with him, enough daylight shown through the crowd for the pass to sneak through.
"I wanted to shoot because it was getting late and at that point, you just want to throw the puck at the net," added Campbell, who notched a pair of assists in the game. "(Spezza) slid out so I couldn't shoot it. I tried again and (Alfredsson) slide out. I got over to the left side but shooting from that angle you won't score too often. I saw Danny at the backdoor and just kind of threw it there in hopes that it would get to him."
"That play showed a lot of composure," commented Ruff regarding Campbell's play.
In overtime, Maxim Afinogenov fed Briere with a no-look pass across the crease for the game winner. The setup wasn't anything new, as the two had hooked up on a similar play during Buffalo's 10-4 loss to Ottawa in HSBC Arena on November 2.
The plan: Afinogenov takes the puck out from behind the net and finds Briere on the far post. The result: A Sabres win.
"Max called it before we even took the face-off," said Briere. "I slid it to him behind the net, he walked to the front, while looking me off the entire time. I knew the pass was coming and I just tried to find a hole. He put it perfectly on my tape."
The game was a well-deserved victory for the team, who has won three of the last five games, and an even more deserved milestone for the coach. When asked what was sweeter - 300 wins or 100 points - Ruff's replay was almost instantaneous.
"100 points," said Ruff. Buffalo hadn't recorded 100 points in a season since 1979-80
Following the game, Sabres coaches and players were repeating the same sentiments. The victory was important, but remember, it came against a shell of a team.
"Obviously, we're a little disappointed about the way we couldn't take advantage of the fact that they had their top three defensemen out of the lineup," Briere said regarding the absence of Zdeno Chara, Chris Phillips and Wade Redden. "We're realistic, but hopefully, it's the kind of win that will be a big confidence builder that will get and keep us going in the right direction."
"Andrej Meszaros played almost 30 minutes for them," commented Ruff on the shallowness of Ottawa's defense. "We knew if we could get it in the zone, we could create some havoc, and I thought we did."
On the power play, Campbell skated around Alfredsson at Ottawa's blueline and down to the goal line, where the defenseman looped a pass back to Afinogenov, who was trailing the play. Afinogenov's one-timer slipped just inside the right post for his 21st of the season, 11th on the man advantage and a 1-0 Buffalo lead at 6:11.
Ottawa's high-powered offense, which had scored 29 goals against Buffalo this season, struck with less than a minute left in the first period to open a three-goal streak.
With 30.7 tics on the clock, Mike Fisher found Alfredsson with a crossing feed to the left wing. Alfredsson, who had burned the Sabres for six goals in their previous six meetings, beat Biron with a slapshot just inside the left post from the top of the left face-off circle for his 40th goal of the season.
At 5:18 of the second, Christoph Schubert intercepted Rory Fitzpatrick's across-ice pass, skated coast-to-coast and fired a slapshot from the left face-off dot between the legs of Martin Biron for his first shorthanded goal of the season and a 2-1 Ottawa lead.
Less than a minute later, Patrick Eaves increased the Senators lead to two with a second-chance effort. Eaves' one-timer off Jason Spezza's across-crease feed was stopped by Biron with a diving glove save. But as Henrik Tallinder was pulling the forward to the ice, he thrust his stick below Biron's arm and stuffed the puck across the goal line for his 18th goal of the season.
A total of 21 seconds expired before Roy cut Ottawa's lead to a goal.
Receiving a pass from Mike Grier in the slot, the center stickhandled around a diving Ray Emery and slid a backhander past the downed netminder as he was falling to the ice for his 18th goal at 6:29.
Fitzpatrick tied the game with his fourth goal of the season. On the power play, the defenseman ripped a wristshot from the point that deflected off the left post like a pinball and into the net at 11:03.
Dmitri Kalinin turned over the puck at the Sabres blueline to Vaclav Varada, who found Chris Kelly alone in front of Martin Biron. Kelly's wristshot deflected off the left post into the net for his ninth goal of the season and a 4-3 Ottawa lead at 14:48 of the third.
Campbell faked out Jason Spezza and Alfredsson before finding Briere on the backdoor across-crease pass through traffic to tie the game 4-4 at 19:20 of the third.
Briere scores his second of the game and the game-winner after receiving a no-look pass from Afinogenov at the left post and stuffing the puck home at 4:13 of overtime.
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1-0 (6:11): On the power play, Brian Campbell skated around Daniel Alfredsson at Ottawa's blueline, skated to the goal line and looped a pass back to Maxim Afinogenov, who was trailing the play. Afinogenov's one-timer slipped just inside the right post for his 21st of the season and 11th on the man advantage. Campbell gets the lone assist.
1-1 (19:29): With 30.7 seconds remaining in the first, Mike Fisher finds Daniel Alfredsson with an across-ice feed. Alfredsson's slapshot beat Biron on his stick side. The goal is Alfredsson's 40th of the season. Fisher and Jason Spezza get the helpers.
1-3 (6:08): Jason Spezza found Patrick Eaves with an across-crease pass that the right wing one-timed towards a wide-open net. Biron stopped the initial shot but as the forward was being pulled to the ice by Henrik Tallinder, he thrust his stick below Biron's arm and stuffed the puck into the net.
1-3 (6:08): Jason Spezza found Patrick Eaves with an across-crease pass that the right wing one-timed towards a wide-open net. Biron stopped the initial shot but as the forward was being pulled to the ice by Henrik Tallinder, he thrust his stick below Biron's arm and stuffed the puck into the net. Spezza and Brian Pothier get the helpers.
2-3 (6:29): Receiving a pass from Mike Grier in the slot, Derek Roy stickhandles to the right post and slide a backhander past a downed Emery as he was falling. The goal is Roy's 18th of the season. Grier and Drury get the assists.
3-3 (11:03): On the power play, Rory Fitzpatrick ripped a wristshot that deflects off the left post and into the net. The goal is Fitzpatrick's fourth of the season and second on the man advantage. Daniel Briere gets the primary assist, while Max Afinogenov gets the secondary.
3-4 (14:48): Dmitri Kalinin coughed up the puck at the Sabres blueline to Vaclav Varada, who finds Chris Kelly alone in front of Martin Biron. Kelly's wristshot deflects off the left post into the net for his ninth goal of the season. Varada and Brian Pothier get the assists.
4-4 (19:20): Brian Campbell faked a shot from the point and got Jason Spezza to sprawl on the ice, faked a second time to get Alfredsson, and then slid an across-crease pass through traffic to Daniel Briere at the backdoor for the game-tying goal with 39.2 seconds remaining in regulation. The goal is Briere's 23rd of the season. Campbell and Afinogenov get the helpers.
5-4 (4:13): Daniel Briere notches the game-winning goal after receiving a no-look pass from Afinogenov at the left post and stuffing the puck home.