Souray stops Sabres in overtime

Friday, 24.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Montreal Canadiens
Habs earn third straight win for the first time this season

Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist and Sheldon Souray scored the game-winner against the Sabres.

BUFFALO (AP) - Sheldon Souray didn't realize how close he cut it. All that mattered was that his shot went in before the final buzzer sounded.

With a second to spare in overtime, Souray scored on a wrist shot from the left circle to lift the Canadiens to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.

"I didn't know there was that little time left. I just knew we were getting close," said Souray, who scored his team-leading ninth goal. "Lucky. Lucky we beat the clock."

The goal capped a come-from-behind win after Canadiens captain Saku Koivu tied the game eight minutes into the third period. Souray's goal came on the transition after Buffalo's Maxim Afinogenov had his shot blocked by Craig Rivet in the Montreal end.

Alex Kovalev streaked up the right wing and fed a pass across to Souray, who was at the end of his shift, but elected to join the rush at the last moment.

"I was on fumes," said Souray, who beat Ryan Miller on the short side.

Knowing how little time was left, Miller expected the shot to come from Kovalev.

"It wasn't a case of `Please, let the buzzer go.' I was focusing on Kovalev," said Miller, who stopped 28 shots, including 11 in the third period. "He hit the trailer and (Souray) took a pretty good shot to get it up."

Koivu added an assist, while Cristobal Huet stopped 29 shots, including 23 over the final 45 minutes in dousing the NHL's most potent offense.

Huet's best save came with a minute left in overtime when he closed his pads in time to prevent Thomas Vanek's attempt to squeeze a shot through on a breakaway.

Jaroslav Spacek scored for the Sabres (18-3-2), who entered the game with a league-leading 101 goals, and were coming off two seven-goal games, including a 7-4 win over Toronto on Wednesday.

"We still got our opportunities," Miller said. "We hit some posts, caused some havoc, but just didn't find the net. Some days, that's the way it goes."

Montreal (13-5-3) is now the team that's suddenly on a roll, having won three straight and five of its last six.

Besides ending a four-game skid against Buffalo, the Canadiens also enjoyed a bit of payback. The come-from-behind win helped make up for Montreal's season-opening 5-4 shootout loss at Buffalo last month, a game in which the Canadiens squandered three two-goal leads.

"You always want to get those back," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.

Huet was sharp when necessary, winning his fifth consecutive start - a stretch in which he's allowed only eight goals. Huet also foiled Afinogenov on a breakaway, and somehow got his glove up to foil Chris Drury's shot from the slot in the final seconds of the second period.

The Sabres were fortunate to make it through regulation with the game tied after the Canadiens failed to score during a flurry of action in front with three minutes left.

Miller got a piece Rivet's point shot, but the puck trickled behind him, settling dangerously in the crease. Sabres forward Daniel Paille dived to push the puck to safety and then appeared to deflect a shot from Sergei Samsonov from in close.

The Sabres opened the scoring 12 minutes into the second period when Brian Campbell hit Spacek open in the high slot.

Koivu, who turned 32 Thursday, then tied the game by capping a 3-on-1 rush. Driving up the right wing, he patiently avoided Miller's weak poke check and slipped the puck through the goalie's legs.

"Birthday's long gone," Koivu said. "We'll take these wins any day. It's a reward for our team working hard for 60 minutes. Sometimes you get the bounces at the end."

Notes: Three of Koivu's five goals this season have come against Buffalo. .. The Sabres wrap up a stretch of 10 games in 17 days when they play at the New York Rangers on Sunday. Buffalo is 6-3 during that stretch. .. The Sabres were foiled in an attempt to score seven goals in three straight games for the first time since the final three games of the 1979-80 season.

 

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