Late heroics help Sabres keep Sharks slumping

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) — Derek Roy ultimately made the
Buffalo Sabres’ roller-coaster ride a successful one.

Roy scored the decisive goal in the fifth round of the shootout
after Jason Pominville tied the contest in the waning seconds of
regulation as the Sabres rallied for a 6-5 victory over the San
Jose Sharks on Friday.

Buffalo, which squandered a pair of three-goal leads, trailed,
5-4, when Pominville knotted it with 3.9 seconds remaining,
tipping in a shot from the point by captain Craig Rivet.

“The sweetest feeling is getting the two points,” said Rivet,
who notched a career-high three assists. “Right now, the
(playoff) race is so tight that personal things are not
important for the team to move forward. We had a huge win.”

Following a scoreless overtime, neither side was able to gain
the edge over the first three rounds of the shootout. After
Pominville and Sharks captain Patrick Marleau each tallied in
the fourth, Roy skated in and made a move to the backhand,
lifting the puck over the outstretched glove of goaltender
Evgeni Nabokov to give Buffalo the lead.

Ryan Miller followed with a glove save on Milan Michalek’s
backhand attempt, clinching the win for the Sabres.

“It was big for us,” Miller said. “It’s not going to be a fairy
tale every night, where you get a lead and hold it. There will
be nights like this, where you have to battle and scrape and
come up with some heroics.”

The win also capped an emotional 24-hour period in the

Prior to the game, the crowd at HSBC Arena observed a moment of
silence for the victims of Thursday’s plane crash in Clarence,
New York – 10 miles short of its destination of Buffalo Niagara
International Airport.

Many of the players live in the vicinity of the disaster, and
the Sabres briefly considered postponing the contest.

“Obviously, it’s been a real tough day for all of Buffalo,”
Rivet said. “Tonight, I’m proud of our guys. We played the
best team in the league and we battled them right to the end.
We got a big victory, not only for our club but for all of
Buffalo and the people that are going to be going through some
very tough times in the next little while.

“If we could somehow ease some of the pain, I hope it’ll help.”

Marleau scored twice and All-Star Joe Thornton dished out four
assists for the Sharks, who fell to 1-1-4 in their last six
games and 1-0-3 on their five-game road trip.

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“We’ve lost a number of shootouts,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan
said. “It’s a concern. We work on it, but probably not to the
extent that we need to. It might be something we need to
address as the season goes on.”

Buffalo dominated the opening stages of the first period and was
rewarded early as it scored the first three goals of the

Adam Mair got the Sabres on the board at 6:40, deflecting
Rivet’s slap shot from the right point past Nabokov and just
inside the right goalpost.

With Sharks defenseman Rob Blake in the penalty box for holding,
the Sabres doubled their advantage when blue-liner Jaroslav
Spacek unleashed a one-timer from the top of the slot that
sneaked between the pads of Nabokov at 8:53.

Roy upped the advantage to 3-0 during a power play with 5:39
left in the period. Drew Stafford collected a loose puck at
center ice before gaining the offensive zone and leaving it for
Roy, who beat Nabokov high to the blocker side with a wrist shot
from the right faceoff circle.

“Our power play did a good job,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
“We created some traffic and did some good things.

Marleau scored with the man advantage 1:43 left in the opening
session to draw the Sharks within two, but the Sabres regained
their three-goal bulge when Ales Kotalik tallied while on the
power play at 8:27 of the second.

However, the Sharks started to find their rhythm as Marleau cut
the deficit to 4-2 at 9:39 and All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle
made it a one-goal game with 52 seconds left in the middle

“We showed two colors,” Boyle said. “The first period, we were
an awful hockey team. In the second and most of the third, we
showed that when we play the way we can, we’re a hard team to
play against.”

Devin Setoguchi knotted the contest at 6:09 of the third, and
Joe Pavelski gave San Jose its first lead of the game with a
wrister from the right circle that beat Miller high to the glove
side midway through the session.

“We’ll probably leave here remembering the comeback, but that’s
not the part of the game we should be focusing on,” McLellan
said. “We haven’t scored first in a lot of games here now, and
it’s a concern.”

Each team registered 35 shots on goal.