Sabres extend fast start, rally late from three goals down

Friday, November 3rd 2006, 6:23 am
By: News On 6

The Buffalo Sabres are off to such a big start, that even a three-goal deficit with less than 9 minutes remaining isn't too much to overcome.

Ales Kotalik scored the tying goal with 95 seconds left in the third period and converted the last shot of a shootout Thursday night, rallying Buffalo to a 5-4 victory in Boston.

The Sabres (11-0-1), who won their first 10 games of the season before losing to Atlanta in a shootout Saturday, trailed 4-1 before Maxim Afinogenov scored with 8:49 to go in regulation. He got another with 2:30 left and Kotalik tied it 55 seconds later.

``I can't remember being on a team that has done that,'' Buffalo forward Chris Drury said. ``Coming back that late is pretty unique.''

Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots by the Bruins and then two of three in the shootout. Jason Pominville also scored for the Sabres, who have beaten Boston nine of the past 10 meetings.

``This team has always been on the right side of confidence,'' Kotalik said, ``especially after winning our first 10 games.''

In other NHL games, it was: Florida 4, Toronto 2; Montreal 4, Carolina 0; the New York Rangers 3, San Jose 1; Detroit 2, Chicago 1; the New York Islanders 5, New Jersey 2; Minnesota 5, Vancouver 2; Tampa Bay 5, Philadelphia 2; and St. Louis 4, Colorado 1.

Daniel Briere scored in the shootout for the Sabres, but his 10-game point streak ended. Of course, that hardly diminished Buffalo's excitement about the comeback.

``I still can't believe it happened. I guess that's what we're capable of,'' Miller said. ``We were in a deep hole. This shows we don't quit.''

Tim Thomas made 29 saves and Marc Savard had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who still have not won consecutive games since March 16-18. They did respond on offense to significant line changes, scoring more than three goals for the first time all season.

``There's no excuse for blowing the lead, but there's a lot of good things I can take out of it,'' Boston coach Dave Lewis said. ``You wonder how I do that, but there were a lot of very good things happening on the ice for us tonight. We didn't complete the game. That's the only thing.''

Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 2

At Sunrise, Fla., Rostislav Olesz and Olli Jokinen scored in the first period for the Panthers, who snapped Toronto's three-game winning streak.

Ed Belfour, who played the previous three seasons with the Maple Leafs, stopped 23 shots. Joel Kwiatkowski scored on a breakaway for Florida and Chris Gratton added an empty-net goal.

Jean-Sebastien Aubin lost for the first time since joining the Leafs in March, dropping to 10-1-3.

The victory was Jacques Martin's 450th as an NHL head coach. He became the 13th coach to reach the milestone.

Canadiens 4, Hurricanes 0

At Raleigh, N.C., Cristobal Huet made 31 saves in his first shutout this season. Michael Komisarek had a goal and an assist for Montreal, which beat Carolina in a regular-season game at the RBC Center for the first time since March 2003.

Saku Koivu, Mike Johnson and Tomas Plekanec added goals for Montreal, which won a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinal in which Carolina rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to advance in six games.

Rangers 3, Sharks 1

Backup goalie Kevin Weekes stopped 29 shots for his second win in two nights, and the Rangers finished a successful road trip.

Matt Cullen scored a breakaway goal in the final second of the opening period, and Martin Straka also scored as New York got its third victory in four West Coast games.

Brendan Shanahan scored an empty-net goal with 3.6 seconds left. It was the 610th of Shanahan's career, tying him with Bobby Hull for 12th place on the NHL list.

Red Wings 2, Blackhawks 1

Henrik Zetterberg and Robert Lang scored early in the third period to help visiting Detroit win its fifth straight.

Rene Bourque scored for injury-depleted Chicago, which lost its seventh in a row. The Blackhawks have not beaten the Red Wings at home since Dec. 28, 2003.

Islanders 5, Devils 2

The line of Trent Hunter, Mike York and Miroslav Satan combined for two first-period goals for visiting New York.

Jason Blake, Alexei Zhitnik and Viktor Kozlov also scored. Alexei Yashin added three assists and Rick DiPietro had 14 saves as the Islanders won their third straight.

Wild 5, Canucks 2

Nick Schultz scored to snap a tie early in the third period, helping host Minnesota shake off a sluggish start.

Brian Rolston scored on a penalty shot and Niklas Backstrom, subbing for an ill Manny Fernandez, shut out Vancouver for the final two periods.

Lightning 5, Flyers 2

At Philadelphia, Martin St. Louis scored twice and goalie Johan Holmqvist earned his first NHL victory to help Tampa Bay snap a three-game skid. Tim Taylor, Vincent Lecavalier, and Eric Perrin also scored for the Lightning, who have beaten the Flyers 10 straight times.

Blues 4, Avalanche 1

Manny Legace made 44 saves, Bill Guerin scored twice and Doug Weight assisted on all four goals by host St. Louis.