Buffalo (30-12-7) at San Jose (34-10-8)
The last time these two teams met was on February 13th, when flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Even though the NHL offered to postpone the game, the Sabres chose to play.
Buffalo went out to a four goal lead, only to see San Jose come back and score five goals. Jason Pominville tied the game up with four seconds remaining and Buffalo went on to win in a shootout.
Saturday, both teams had Olympic goaltenders starting in net. Ryan Miller and Evgeni Nabokov planned to try and out-duel each other in tonight's matchup. Nabokov came in with a 0.99 goals against in his last six games, one of the reasons the Sharks are in first place. The Sharks lead the league in faceoff percentage, while Buffalo sits 26th in that category.
Eight minutes into the game, Tim Connolly had Buffalo on top 1-0. With the goal, he extended his point streak to 15 games. Buffalo outshot the Sharks 10-2 in the first half of the opening period.
The Sharks put the pressure on early in the second period, resulting in a goal. Joe Pavelski scored his 11th of the season as he shot it past Ryan Miller to tie the game at one.
Then, one of the Sabre killers, Dany Heatley scored his 30th goal of the season. The Sharks took a 2-1 lead with six minutes remaining in the second period.
Buffalo had a power play to start the third period that carried over from the second. Just 18 seconds in, Jason Pominville backhanded it past Nabakov to tie the game at two.
After pinning the Sabres in their own zone for a minute straight, Joe Pavelski tapped home a rebound, giving the Sharks a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes to go in the third. Jed Ortmeyer added insurance for the Sharks with a one-timer that beat Ryan Miller. San Jose jumped out to a two goal lead.
Ortmeyer would seal the deal with an empty net goal as the Sabres have now dropped three games in a row. The Sabres have one game left on their seven game road trip, which will be in Vancouver on Monday. Buffalo is 2-2-2 on the road trip so far.
Buffalo outshot the Sharks 40-24 on the night, but could only score twice on Nabokov. Buffalo still holds a seven point lead in the Northeast Division.
These two teams will meet again in Buffalo on February 13th.
Kevin "Bite Me" Freiheit