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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

Saturday.

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.

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.

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