Buffalo Sabres defeat Colorado Avalanche 6-4
The Buffalo Sabres got back into the win column after a nail-biter that came down to the final minute in tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. After a lackluster performance on Friday night at home versus the San Jose Sharks, head coach Lindy Ruff gave the team some much needed rest on Saturday. Instead of their normal morning skate he took the team bowling instead. Decisions like that separate Ruff from many other coaches in the league. The team was tired from a busy schedule and overnight travel and needed some R-and-R. The decision paid off for Ruff as the Sabres came out flying in the first period tonight. Gaustad got the Sabres ahead just 2:45 into the game. Thorburn got his first NHL point with the assist. Thorburn was actually trying to pass the puck cross-ice to Mair but it hit a Colorado stick and ended up on Gaustad’s stick in front of the net and he buried it. Gaustad’s first NHL point was immediately followed up by his first NHL fight as he dropped the gloves with McCormick on the ensuing face-off. Mair and Hinote also dropped the gloves within the first five minutes. For two teams who haven’t faced each other in over a year there seemed to be a lot of animosity between them. Colorado tied it at 1-1 when Sakic found Skrastins in front for a one-timer that he put past Biron. Biron was too slow in getting square to the shooter and the puck went between his pads. The Sabres would then score three unanswered goals starting with a short-handed tally by Hecht. Hecht broke down the right wing with Kalinin on his left. Aebischer was looking for Hecht to pass it across to Kalinin and he stayed back in the net. By not cutting down the angle, Aebischer gave Hecht enough room on the far side and he buried it. Pominville put the Sabres up 3-1 when he gained control of the puck at center ice and skated down the right wing. When he got to the top of the face-off circle in the Avalanche zone he fired a knuckler into the top, short side corner that caught Aebischer by surprise. After Aebischer misplayed the puck and was out of position, Hecht fed the puck out to Grier who was all alone in front of the net and had the whole net to shoot at. Before Aebischer could get back into position, Grier buried the puck to put Buffalo ahead 4-1. After giving up 4 goals on 16 shots, Aebischer gave way to Peter Budaj in net for the Avalanche at the start of the second period. Budaj has a better goals against average and save percentage than Aebischer and the change seemed to give Colorado new life. They dominated large portions of the second and third periods and roared back into the game. Colorado got a power play goal from Rob Blake to make it 4-2 in the second. Blake took a shot from the center of the blue line that found the back of the net. Biron had traffic in front of him and never saw the puck.