The Buffalo Bills are certainly grabbing many headlines these days as they continue their winning ways with a record of 5-1. They are playing great, and are quite deserving of all the attention they are getting. But the Bills are not the only sports franchise in Buffalo experiencing a very high level of success.
The Sabres are quietly returning to their President Trophy-winning form.
Going into their game last night, the 5-0-1 Sabres faced a tough challenge on the road against a team that was also undefeated in regulation (4-0-0) and is known for being one of the top defensive teams in the league. The Sabres are back to their goal scoring ways, though they have also improved their defense – as well as Ryan Miller leading the league in GAA – but playing in Minnesota was definitely going to be tough.
Because of all that, I told my family before the game began, “If the Sabres can win this one, they are awesome.”
Well, it appeared that we just might have been awesome. After one period, the Sabres had the lone goal. A 1-0 lead on the road against a tough team. Nice! I was getting ready to declare my team “awesome”.
But then we played the second period.
The Sabres looked pretty sloppy to me. A bit slower to the puck than Minnesota. And just a few giveaways let the Wild not only get back in the game, but end the period with a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately, early in the third it got even worse. With Minnesota on a power play, Ryan Miller was attempting to clear the puck when a Minnesota player tipped a poorly aimed clearing attempt by Miller just enough to direct it into the net. Basically, Miller put it in his own net, giving the Wild a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 third period lead.
But these Sabres are nothing if not persistent.
With the team being in such a hole against such an opponent with such little time remaining, I now modified my pre-game declaration. “If the Sabres win the game now, they would be DOUBLE awesome.”
The puck had not been bouncing their way, but with under four minutes to go, Nathan Paetsch threw a puck to the net that Adam Mair tipped just inside the post. I was really glad they scored that goal, just to make it at least somewhat respectable. As I was still celebrating that goal, however, the NHL’s leading goal scorer fired a shot past the Wild goal tender and just like that – the game was tied!
The crowd was stunned. I was stunned. Maybe even the Sabres were stunned.
The game went to overtime, and only 44 seconds into the extra period, the Sabres shoved the puck past Minnesota goalie, Niklas Backstrom. It was Derek Roy’s first goal of the year, and it completed an improbable comeback win, even for the Buffalo Sabres, who have made a habit of that this season.
And it proved that the Sabres were indeed, “Double Awesome”.
It’s a fun year to be a Buffalo sports fan, folks! Enjoy it! Two teams are having some really great success. Still a little early in both seasons to know where it might lead, but you can’t have much better starts than our Bills and Sabres have had.