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Winning With Patience

Thursday, 12.14.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Winning With Patience
In a season where Buffalo has already scored 124 goals, it took a hard fought, patient game to beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 at HSBC Arena.

Against the pesky Panthers, who handed Buffalo their worst loss of the season on December 12, the most potent offense in the league was limited to just 16 shots on net. It just so happened that two of those choice shots found the back of the net and Buffalo was able to limit Florida to a single goal on 33 offerings.

Thomas Vanek scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season in the second period while Maxim Afinogenov netted his 14th just minutes into the third as Buffalo improved to 24-5-2 on the season.

"You have to play a patient game in a lot of senses," said defenseman Brian Campbell. "Sometimes shots are going in and sometimes they're not. When they aren't, you just have to win a game 1-0 or 2-1."

"We passed up some pretty good opportunities tonight," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "We'd been rewarded for making some of those plays earlier this season."

Buffalo may have been out shot, but the difference in opportunities between the two teams was closer than the stats sheet suggested.

"They got more shots but there shots were from the outside," said forward Maxim Afinogenov. "I think we got more chances on the night."

"They had shots, but the opportunities they had, we did a really good job of taking care of them," said goaltender Ryan Miller, who made 32 stops on the night. "I was able to see the puck and make plays."

Winning in New Jersey 3-2 on Tuesday night and against Florida in Buffalo's first home game since finishing their season-long, five-game road trip has helped the team learn how to grind out victories.

"We stayed away from the odd number situations which was our goal the last couple of nights," said Ruff. "We just have to learn to adapt and win those close games."

For the fourth game in a row, action went into the second period scoreless. The last time that Buffalo scored in the opening period was back on December 5, as the Sabres scored three times in a 4-1 victory against Tampa Bay.

In the opening frame, Miller held Florida scoreless with 10 saves, including a great grab on Florida's Gary Roberts who was parked on the doorstep with just 1:11 remaining in the period.

Vanek scored at 4:20 into the second period after receiving a feed from Derek Roy, stickhandling to gain control in front and flipping a shot over a downed Ed Belfour.

Josef Stumpel tied the game 1-1 with his seventh on the season at 7:02 of the second. Receiving a fortunate ricochet off the boards by the left post, Stumpel moved out front and slipped the puck just inside the right post for his seventh goal of the season.

Afinogenov gave Buffalo the 2-1 lead as he scored on a five-on-three man advantage just 1:19 into the final frame. Parked to the right side of the net, Afinogenov roofed the puck over Belfour, after receiving the pass from Chris Drury from the left side of the crease to record his fith power-play goal of the season.
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82