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Sabres Fight Off Flyers

Saturday, 11.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Buffalo Sabres
People called it the darkest day in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers franchise. Buffalo's mid-October thrashing of the Flyers was the acting agent that served as a catalyst for Philadelphia's complete overhaul of its upper management. Just days following that 9-1 loss on October 17, head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired and general manager Bob Clarke resigned.

How would the Flyers fair against the top team in the Eastern Conference standings with a new tandem behind the bench and at the helm of the franchise? Philadelphia transformed back into the team Buffalo faced in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs and gave the Sabres all they could handle.

For the third straight game, Buffalo relinquished a lead and was forced into some last minute heroics, ultimately winning in overtime 5-4 with a power-play goal. Daniel Briere one-timed Jason Pominville pass from the left face-off dot shortside for his seventh goal of the season just 21 seconds into the extra period to give Buffalo their 14th victory of the season.

"You had two teams that really competed hard," said Ruff, whose team continues to add to their NHL record nine-straight road wins to open the season and moved to 14-1-1 overall. "There was hitting, physical play and they really backchecked well. In the back of their minds, they probably wanted to make up for what happened in our building."

Buffalo became just the second team in NHL history - Pittsburgh Penguins in 1998-99 was the first - to win three straight games in overtime with the win. The overtime period was enacted during the 1983-84 season.

"It tells you that we have a good team here," said Ruff of the team's perfect road record and success in overtime. "We've got a lot of talent and they deserve the credit for it. We're not going to kid anybody ... we have good players [on the roster] and our young kids that came up [from Rochester] are good players.

"You don't win on the road unless you have a good team."

Briere scored not only the game winner but the game-tying goal with less than three minutes to play in regulation as well. The Sabres co-captain has been on fire as of late, scoring four goals and eight points in the last four games.

Buffalo also received goals from Paul Gaustad, Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford, the first of his NHL career.

Defenseman Mike Card made his NHL debut.as Toni Lydman was absent from Buffalo's lineup due to injury. Card was paired with fellow Rochester American's alumnus Nathan Paetsch and logged more than 11 minutes of ice time in even-strength situations.

"For his first NHL game, he started slow and looked pretty tight, but he made some very good plays," said Ruff concerning Card's play. "He did a couple little reverses that showed some really good defensive poise."

Goaltender Martin Biron won his fifth start of the season after making 26 saves.

Philadelphia opened the scoring on their first power play, despite boasting the worst conversion percentage in the league. Randy Robitaille one-timed a bouncing puck over a downed Biron to register his second goal of the season at 6:55 of the first.

Buffalo tied the game with a marvelous play by Thomas Vanek. The second-year professional deked through the slot and slipped an across-crease pass to Gaustad at the right post at 13:42.

Pominville collected a loose puck at the top of the left faceoff dot and scored his 10th goal of the season with a wristshot into the top-right corner of the net at 1:40 of the second to make the score 2-1 in favor of Buffalo.

To complete Buffalo's three-goal run, Stafford fired a shot from a bad angle along the goal line that deflected off Antero Nittymaki at 7:58 of the second.

Alex Picard's shot from the point found it's way through traffic and entered the net just inside the left post for Philadelphia's third goal at 15:46.

Just 20 seconds into the third, RJ Umberger tied the game after receiving a pass from Ben Eager and snapping a wristshot five-hole.

Off a turnover by Stafford in Buffalo's zone, Robitaille redirected Kyle Calder's across ice pass as he was cutting to the net for his second goal and made the score 4-3 in favor of the Flyers at 11:29.

Briere fought his way to the net and converted the rebound off Brian Campbell's point shot into Buffalo's fourth goal and put the game into overtime at 17:01.
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Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.

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