Derek Roy and the Buffalo Sabres don’t want to make a habit of overcoming three-goal deficits.
But so long as the bounces keep going their way, they’re not going to complain too much about it. A wild bounce off a glass partition led to Roy scoring into an unattended net 4:02 into overtime to cap a 4-3 win over the stunned Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. It was Buffalo’s second straight win in a game it trailed 3-0, following a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
And this one could be chalked up as much to character as good fortune.
“That was the most wide-open net I’ve gotten in my career,” Roy said. “I got a lucky bounce off the glass, it was a good bounce for us.”
The unlikely goal came on what began as an innocent play when Sabres defenceman Tyler Myers got to the Atlanta blue-line and dumped the puck in high along the left boards. Goalie Johan Hedberg anticipated the play, and immediately left his crease to go behind the net in a bid to play the puck.
The puck, however, took a strange carom off the glass and bounced directly into the slot, where Roy swept it into the wide-open net.
“We definitely deserved a better fate,” Hedberg said. “We were the better team. They had the bounces, you can say that.”
The Sabres scored four times in the final 26:53 to win their third straight. Jochen Hecht had two goals and an assist and Tim Connolly had a goal and assist in helping Buffalo end a six-game skid (0-1-5) against Atlanta.
Buffalo became the first team to win consecutive games when trailing by three or more goals since Dallas did it in January 2006 in beating Anaheim 4-3 in a shootout and Detroit 6-3.
Ilya Kovalchuk, registering his 600th career point, Bryan Little and Evander Kane scored for the Thrashers, 0-5-2 in their past seven games.
It was a game the Sabres had no business being in, if not for the solid play of goalie Ryan Miller who was selected to U.S. Olympic team earlier in the day.
Miller stopped 32 shots over all, and the first 21 shots he faced before Kovalchuk opened the scoring by converting a rebound midway through the second period. Kane scored less than 2 minutes later and then the Thrashers appeared to take command when Little, set up alone in front, scored a power-play goal with 3:31 left in the second period.
Hecht put the Sabres on the board 40 seconds later, and then Connolly and Hecht scored less than two minutes apart early in the third period to tie the game.
The win didn’t sit too well with Miller or coach Lindy Ruff, considering how flat the Sabres played.
“Any time you get points in this league, you’re happy, but we’re not satisfied,” Miller said. “I think we have to be a lot better to truly call ourselves a team that wants to contend.”
Miller added he wasn’t positive in addressing his teammates prior to the comeback.
“They made me eat my words, so good for them,” Miller said.
Ruff expressed concern about his team’s performance, too.
“We’re not going to keep coming back from 3-0,” Ruff said. “We’re right on the cusp of either gettingt it figure out and going one way or looking pretty bad.”
The numbers looked very good for the Sabres, who improved to 9-9-1 when allowing the first goal, and 5-11-0 when trailing after two periods.
“We had our chances,” Thrashers coach John Anderson said. “I’m sure one more goal would have done it. We’re going through a stretch where we make one mistake and it ends up in our net.”
NOTES: The Thrashers are in the midst of a seven-game trip that concludes with games at Long Island on Saturday and at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. … With Miller’s selection to the U.S. team, the Sabres have five players scheduled to play in Vancouver: D Henrik Tallinder (Sweden), D Toni Lydman (Finland), D Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) and minor-league F Philip Gogulla (Germany). And then there’s coach Lindy Ruff, a Canadian team assistant. … Sabres F Nathan Gerbe was activated off injured reserve and returned to Portland of the AHL on Thursday. … Roy returned after missing two games because of an eye injury.