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Sabres Waiting Until Tuesday

Saturday, 03.31.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Sabres Waiting Until Tuesday

March 31, 2007
by Brian Wheeler

A heart pounding, third period comeback on Saturday night by the Buffalo Sabres fell just short and left the team anxiously awaiting their next game.

Buffalo remained two points shy of clinching their first conference title since the 1979-80 season when they fell to the Montrel Canadiens, 4-3. The Sabres next chance to take the East will come Tuesday when the team travels to second seeded Pittsburgh (Versus, 7 p.m.).

A possible first-round opponent for Buffalo in the playoffs, Montreal converted turnovers by the Sabres into three unanswered goals after Daniel Briere's 32nd of the season nine minutes into the game.

"We had a period of time where five or six rushes, we turned it over at the blueline," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought we made some poor decisions when we hit the line."

"It was our own mistakes," said Dainius Zubrus. "We turned too many pucks over. They're a good team, and if you turn it over in your own end, it could end up in your net."

Buffalo cut the lead to a goal late in the second but Montreal's captain added the game winner just minutes into the final frame. Buffalo out shot the Canadiens 10-2 in the third.

"It was a game where they took advantage of our mistakes," said Ruff. "We had couple of late opportunities, but didn't take advantage of them."

Briere, Zubrus, and Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo, while Ty Conklin took the loss turning away 15-of-19 shots.

A neutral zone turnover allowed enough of an opening for Daniel Briere to give Buffalo the lead midway through the first period.

Two quick passes by Teppo Numminen and Jochen Hecht put Briere behind Montreal's defense, where the center beat Jaroslav Halak with a quick wristshot from the left dot at 9:20. The goal is Briere's 32nd of the season and his seventh point (3+4) in his last six games.

Three unanswered goals gave the Canadiens a 3-1 lead by the nine minute mark of the second period.

Michael Ryder redirected Francis Bouillon's quick wristshot from the left point past Ty Conklin to record his 27th of the season at 15:33 to tie the game.

Breaking a seven game goal drought, Radek Bonk followed his initial shot on a two-on-one break, collected the loose puck around Numminen, and scored with a backhander for his 13th goal of the season and a 2-1 Montreal lead at 6:39.

Maxim Lapierre gave Montreal their largest lead of the game at 8:16. Lapierre intercepted Alex Kovalev's wristshot from the right wing and flipped a backhander into the top of the net to put Montreal up by a pair.

With 1:01 left in the period, Vanek brought Buffalo within a goal. Controlling the puck along the boards, Derek Roy spun and fired a blind shot, which Vanek redirected past the Jaroslav Halak to record his 39th goal of the season and make the score 3-2.

"Our habits have got to get a little better in we need to throw more pucks at the net," said Ruff.

"After the second period, we talked about how we had to turn it up a knotch," said Zubrus. "We did and played pretty well for most of the third."

An Ales-Kotalik turnover in Buffalo's zone allowed Saku Koivu to regain the two-goal Montreal lead at 3:22 of the third. Koivu intercepted Kotalik's pass in the high slot, cut around Toni Lydman and fired into the top-right corner of the net to register his 20th of the season.

Zubrus slammed the rebound from Daniel Paille's wrap around into the back of the net to bring Buffalo within a goal at 7:15. The tally was Zubrus' 24th of the season and third point (2+1) in as many games.
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Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.

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