Smyth, Budaj lift Avalanche over Sabres

By Derek Nagy
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) — Ryan Smyth scored in the fifth round of the
shootout and Peter Budaj made the goal stand as the Colorado
Avalanche recorded a 2-1 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres on

Defenseman Jordan Leopold tallied in regulation and Budaj made
29 saves as Colorado posted its fifth consecutive victory.

“They scored and got the lead, but our team persevered –
especially in the third period,” Budaj said. “We kept on
coming, kept on coming and we got the bounce there in the third
– and it was a big thing.”

Daniel Paille netted his first goal of the campaign and Ryan
Miller turned aside 28 shots for Buffalo (7-0-2), which has yet
to lose in regulation this season.

“I thought our effort was real good tonight,” Buffalo coach
Lindy Ruff said. “We had a great second period, spent a lot of
time in their zone. It was a hard-fought game both ways.”

In the fifth round of the shootout, Smyth skated in on Miller
and wristed a shot that caromed off the goaltender’s right arm
and trickled into the net.

Budaj preserved the victory by denying Clarke MacArthur on
Buffalo’s final attempt.

“I definitely think that we played a really strong defensive
game. It was a big two points for us,” Budaj said.

Buffalo opened the scoring at 9:18 of the second period.

Defenseman Toni Lydman shot the puck from just above the left
faceoff circle and Paille redirected it on net. The puck just
trickled between Budaj’s pads to give Paille his first goal of
the season and the Sabres a 1-0 lead.

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The Avalanche leveled the contest when Leopold tallied with 6:24
remaining in the third. The blue-liner rifled a shot from the
slot that deflected off a pair of defenders before sailing over
Miller’s left shoulder and into the net.

“I think it went off one of their skates,” Leopold said. “It
wasn’t a shot. There was a little room in between them and I
was looking for a tip shot from (Smyth). It ended up bouncing
around and went in, so a good break for us.”

“We went down to five D-men,” Miller said. “We battled hard,
and to work that hard and have kind of a chincey little play
make a difference to get into overtime, it’s pretty brutal.”

In a clean and hard-hitting affair of two of the hottest teams
in the NHL, the Sabres outshot the Avalanche, 30-29, and held
the league’s highest-scoring team under four goals for just the
second time this season.

“Overall, to only allow one goal, this is a good team we just
played,” Lydman said. “I guess you take the point and have to
move on.”

It was the first meeting between the teams since March 7, 2007,
and first in Denver since 2005.