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Buffalo gets back in the win column at home with 2-1 OT victory

Friday, 12.9.2011 / 10:17 PM ET / THE AFTERMATH
By Kevin Snow  - (@kwsnow)
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Brayden McNabb wasn’t in Buffalo when the season started, and Paul Szczechura wasn’t anywhere near the First Niagara Center when the day began. But the pair of relative unknowns played a huge role in Buffalo’s 2-1 overtime win over the surging Florida Panthers at the First Niagara Center on Friday night.

Szczechura, playing in his third game of the season after being recalled from Rochester this afternoon, set up Jason Pominville for the overtime winner at 2:19 of the extra period. After Jordan Leopold reversed the flow of play with nifty back pass along the boards inside the Buffalo zone, Szczechura hit Pominville for the breakaway pass that the captain made no mistake with.  

“It was actually a really good play by Jordan to Pauly, and he just fired it to me,” explained Pominville. “I had a lot of time to put it away, and was able to find the hole.”

It was another strong performance by the 26-year-old Szczechura, who has spent most of the season in Rochester after being signed by Buffalo as a free agent in the summer. He now has three assists in three games with the Sabres this season.

“He’s not put in easy situations, but he brings that NHL experience,” says Pominville. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have a chance to see him in training camp because he was injured. He stepped in and played well in Rochester, and when he’s got the call here he’s played really well. He’s a small guy who’s good with puck, patient with the puck, and he’s reliable in both ends of the ice.”

The rookie McNabb made a savvy veteran play on Buffalo’s first goal. When his stick snapped in half while defending in the Sabres zone, he was forced to kick the puck across the blueline to Tyler Ennis. He slid it up to Drew Stafford who then spotted Derek Roy streaking up the middle. Roy eluded two Panthers defenders and beat Scott Clemmensen stick side for his seventh goal of the season.

Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff praised the work of the 20-year-old McNabb.

“(McNabb)’s getting better every game,” said Ruff. “I thought he might have been our best player. Great play on the first goal, then the slide to break up the two-on-one. I thought he played sound defensively. And in the absence of some of our key players, we need these guys to make players for us.”

Ryan Miller made his second consecutive start and stopped 22 Panthers shots in a very low chance game to pick up his seventh victory of the season. Buffalo only managed 20 shots on Florida’s Scott Clemmensen.

Already down five regulars, Buffalo’s injury-ravaged lineup took two more hits tonight. Jochen Hecht left the game in the third period after he appeared to block a shot with his ankle, and Corey Tropp was injured in the first period when he was hit by Dmitry Kulikov as skated into the Florida zone. Tropp skated to Sabres bench immediately and was later ruled out for the night with an upper body injury.

Buffalo gets right back it on Saturday when they host the New York Rangers in a 7 p.m. start at First Niagara Center.

NOTE: Ville Leino sat out tonight’s game to serve his one-game suspension for a hit to the head of Philadelphia’s Matt Read on Wednesday.

7:15 - Good evening from the First Niagara Center in beautiful downtown Buffalo, NY!
7:16 - BUF scratches tonight: Leino, Gaustad, Gerbe FLA scratches: Samuelsson, Cullen
7:18 - Ryan Miller gets the start in net for Buffalo. Scott Clemmensen gets the call for Florida.
7:28 - Add Ellerby to Florida's scratches
7:28 - BUF starters: Vanek/Pominville/Hecht, Regehr/Sekera, Miller
7:29 - FLA starters: Fleischmann/Weiss/Versteeg, Weaver/Kulikov, Clemmensen
7:32 - Once again: for those about to blog ... I salute you.
7:33 - Sabres and Panthers hit the ice. Anthems to follow by Mr Doug Allen.

7:38 - Game on!
7:40 - Florida gets a bench minor for Too Many Men on the ice. Sabres on to an early PP
7:41 - Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was hot about that call. You could hear him yelling up here. Reminded me of when I come late and the wife catches me.
7:42 - Weiss grabs the loose puck and rings a shot off the far post.
7:44 - Szczechura skating on a line with Kassian and Adam tonight
7:47 - Brayden McNabb dives for the puck in the Panthers zone, and and takes Scott Clemmensen into the net with him. Somehow McNabb picks up a goaltender interference call on the play.
7:52 - 10:01 left in the 1st. Dadonov to the box for hooking. Each team with just 2 shots each right now.
7:54 - Buffalo doubles their shot total in a hurry as Vanek and Roy pepper the Panthers net with a pair of scoring chances
7:56 - Tropp gets rocked by Kulikov just as he steps over the Panthers blueline ... and then heads right to the Sabres locker room.
7:58 - Sabres get another PP as old friend Tim Kennedy goes off for high sticking.
7:59 - 6:23 left in the 1st. Not the most offensive period you'll ever see.
8:03 - Sabres survive as the Panthers send a flurry of action towards the net.

8:03 - GOAL!
8:04 - BUF 1-0: Derek Roy finishes the play that a stickless Brayden McNabb started at the other end.
8:05 - McNabb's stick broke in the Sabres zone, then he kicked the puck over the blueline and eventually Roy got to it. Heady play by the rookie.
8:06 - Stafford and Ennis with the assists at 17:50.
8:14 - Sabres lead 1-0 after a very dull period of hockey. The two teams combine for 12 shots: BUF 7 - FLA 5

8:26 - Game on for period 2!
8:34 - Corey Tropp hasn't returned to the Sabres bench since he was hit by Kulikov in the 1st period. Tropp played just 1:38
8:37 - Hecht steals the puck at the blueline and feeds Ellis in front but his shot is stopped easily by Clemmensen
8:38 - Tropp will not return - upper body injury
8:41 - The well traveled Marco Sturm gets whistled for hooking Derek Roy behind the Sabres net. He'll now enjoy the view from the penalty box for 2 mins.
8:44 - Swing and a miss by Fleischmann in front of the Buffalo net. Looked like he slipped on a patch of ice on my driveway.
8:53 - 4:36 remaining in the 2nd period. We're still stuck at 1-0 BUF, but Panthers hold an 8-6 edge in shots this period.
8:55 - Hecht and Ehrhoff called for penalties just 10 second apart giving FLA a 5-on-3
8:56 - 1-1: That didn't take long. Florida's drops a bomb past Miller to even the score.
8:59 - Feels like I'm watching the Panthers of the past few years. They lull you to sleep, then score late in the period.
9:01 - End of 2: All even at 1-1. FLA outshoots BUF 10-6, now hold a 15-13 advantage.

9:18 - Game on!
9:25 - For those of you playing at home, they are now doing the wave. I encourage you to do the same.
9:25 - 14:10 left in the 3rd. Shots are even at 1-1. Seriously.
9:26 - Vanek goes off for high sticking. Panthers to the PP
9:39 - Sabres on the PP - Kopecky off for hooking
9:39 - Hecht just blocked a shot and limped to the Sabres locker room.
9:40 - Adam feeds Kassian with a nice back pass but he buries his shot into Clemmensen's left pad.
9:43 - 4:14 left. Deadlocked at 1-1. Florida holds a 5-3 edge in shots. I'd love to give you more, but it's been a quiet night
9:50 - Last minute of play in the 3rd
9:52 - We're headed to OOOOO-vertime!

9:53 - Florida leads 21-16 in shots after regulation
9:54 - Sabres start with 21/44/24/63
9:55 - Miller stops Versteeg in close
9:55 - McNabb steps into a shot from the point that Clemmensen hauls in with his glove

9:57 - GOAL!
9:57 - 2-1: Pominville goes in all alone and brings an end to the game!
9:58 - FINAL: Buffalo 2 -- Florida 1

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