ATLANTA – Eric Perrin went back to his IHL days to come up with his game-winning move in a shootout.
Perrin, Atlanta’s fourth shooter, beat Jocelyn Thibault with a fake before scoring to give the Thrashers a 5-4 win over Buffalo on Friday night. Perrin faked to his right before pulling the puck back and shooting past Thibault to the left side of the net, ending the Sabres’ three-game winning streak.
“I tried those moves in the old IHL and it worked once in a while, so I decided to go for it,” said Perrin, who was 0-for-4 on career shootout attempts in the NHL before the game-winner.
Perrin, in his first season in Atlanta, played for Cleveland, Quebec and Kansas City of the International Hockey League from 1997 to 2000.
Johan Hedberg stopped shots by Ales Kotalik, Derek Roy, Clarke MacArthur and Thomas Vanek in the shootout. Hedberg started despite giving up seven goals in a 10-1 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo on Jan. 18.
Hedberg couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead after the first period, as he gave up three goals in the second, but he delivered in the overtime and shootout.
“We need to thank Moose,” said Thrashers rookie Tobias Enstrom, whose goal with 17 seconds left in regulation forced the overtime. “He did a great job in the shootout. We needed those points.”
Mark Recchi, Bobby Holik and Jim Slater also scored in regulation for Atlanta. Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville, Daniel Paille and Dmitri Kalinin had the Sabres’ goals.
Buffalo led 4-3 but couldn’t overcome two penalties in the last minute of regulation.
MacArthur was called for hooking with 56.4 seconds left, and Tony Lydman drew another penalty for delay of game with 19 seconds left.
With Hedberg pulled, the Thrashers had a three-man advantage that paid off quickly as Enstrom found the net with a long shot from beyond the right circle with 17 seconds left, forcing the overtime.
“I saw it at the last second,” said Thibault of Enstrom’s shot. “I didn’t have enough time to stop it. I would have liked to get that extra save for the team.”
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said “stupid penalties cost us the game.”
“We made some mental mistakes that we couldn’t afford,” Ruff said.
Buffalo’s Ryan Miller gave up two first-period goals but shut out the Thrashers in the second period. Miller stopped 18 shots through two periods but suffered a leg injury in the second period. He left with a 3-2 lead and was replaced by Thibault to start the third period.
Ruff said “I have no idea” if Miller would miss any games. He gave no details on the injury.
Thibault gave up a game-tying goal to Slater 2:25 into the third period, but Kalinin answered with a power-play wrist shot for the Sabres less than 3 minutes later for a 4-3 Buffalo lead.
The Sabres rallied from a 2-0 deficit with second-period goals by Hecht, Pominville and Paille.
Buffalo had another apparent goal by Paul Gaustad disallowed when he was called for goaltender interference. Ruff and Gaustad argued the goal was good.
Hedberg and the Thrashers played strong defence early in their first of at least two games without Ilya Kovalchuk, who hurt his right knee when hit by Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu Wednesday night.
The MRI on Kovalchuk’s right knee was negative. He also will miss Atlanta’s game at Washington on Saturday but could return Tuesday against Philadelphia.
The Thrashers had another injury scare when their other All-Star, Marian Hossa, was sent crashing hard into the boards behind the Buffalo net by Jaroslav Spacek early in the third period. Hossa left the game but returned later in the period.
Coach Don Waddell asked for balanced scoring, as well as strong defence, to compensate for the temporary loss of Kovalchuk. The Thrashers answered the call with first-period goals by Recchi and Holik.
Notes: The Thrashers improved to 6-4 in shootouts while the Sabres fell to 1-5. … Slater has two goals in two games after having none in Atlanta’s first 52 games. … Buffalo RW Maxim Afinogenov skated with the team Thursday but missed his 13th straight game with a groin injury. … RW Drew Stafford was held out with an ankle injury suffered in Buffalo’s win at Florida on Wednesday. … Kalinin’s goal was his first of the season.