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Huge comeback wasted
Shootout costs SJ another win
2/13/09 - By Mike Lee

Mourning the 50 people who perished in a horrific plane crash 24 hours earlier, the city of Buffalo was able to move on a bit Friday night. The Sabres provided the perfect temporary distraction, in a riveting 6-5 shootout win over the Sharks at the HSBC Center.

The Sharks went on their own emotional roller coaster ride in the confines of the rink. After falling behind 3-0, San Jose stormed back to take a 5-4 lead. Former Sharks defenseman Craig Rivet helped tie the game with 3.9 seconds left in regulation, before the Sabres outdueled San Jose in the shootout.

When the Sharks acquired both Rob Blake and Dan Boyle last Summer, the Sharks were forced to move payroll, and Rivet found himself on the short end of the stick. Rivet would eventually land in Buffalo where he would assume the Sabres captaincy. The defenseman exacted his revenge with a dramatic shot from the blueline that Jason Pominville deflected to beat Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, denying the Sharks a regulation win.

Rivet’s goal was made even more dramatic by the way the game played out earlier in regulation. Adam Mair scored 6:40 into the game on a deflection off a shot from Rivet.

A Rob Blake holding penalty put the Sabres on the power play, and Jaroslav Spacek converted a minute later. Spacek uncorked a shot from the blueline that Nabokov partially stopped, but the puck trickled through his pads and across the goal line.

Buffalo went back on the power play at 12:28 on a Joe Pavelski hooking infraction. Derek Roy would score his 20th goal of the season on the man advantage, after Joe Thornton turned the puck over at center ice. Roy took a Drew Stafford feed up the right wing then roofed a shot over Nabokov’s right shoulder.

Patrick Marleau would cut Buffalo ’s lead to 3-1 with a power play goal of his own at 18:17. Marleau whipped a shot on goal from the top of the left circle that slipped between Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and the left post.

Blake helped the Sabres to another power play goal, by taking a tripping penalty at 8:23 of the 2nd period. Ales Kotalik Cranked a shot from the left point after Matt Ellis won the draw and Rivet slid the puck over to Kotalik along the left win boards. Nabokov had a clear line of sight, but failed to get over to cover the left side of the net.

Marleau made it 4-2 Buffalo a minute later after putting a Joe Thornton feed past Miller from the slot. Thornton swatted at the puck from the end-line after it caromed off the end boards, pushing it to Marleau who sat parked unattended in front of the Sabres goal.

San Jose finally stopped a Buffalo power play, midway through the period. Mike Grier almost made it a bountiful penalty when he found himself with the puck and nothing but ice between himself and Miller. His short-handed breakaway chance would only turn out to be a preview of the Sharks fruitless performance in the shootout.

Dan Boyle would make up for Grier’s failure with what may be the highlight reel goal of the season for San Jose with a minute left in the period. Boyle took a feed from Thornton at his own blueline, then raced up the center of the ice. The Sharks defenseman was forced to fight off Sabres blueliner Toni Lydman with his left hand, while scooting the puck up ice. Boyle would squeeze a shot off, beating Miller to make it a one-goal game.

Rivet would play a role in the Sharks tying goal in the 3rd period, by taking a high-sticking penalty at 4:34. Devin Setoguchi would bag his 23rd goal of the season with a one-timer from the left dot on a feed from Boyle.

Joe Pavelski would give the Sharks the lead 4 minutes later on a crazy play. After intercepting a clearing attempt along the right wing boards, Pavelski tried to get a shot off, but it was deflected right back to him. After shrugging off a check, the Sharks winger snapped a second shot that found its way past Miller.

The Sharks looked poised to steal the two points before Rivet pulled the rabbit out of his hat. Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff pulled Miller for the extra attacker and it paid off.

In the shootout, neither team seemed interested in taking control of the game. Kotalik, Stafford and Tim Connolly all missed their chances, but Boyle, Pavelski and Setoguchi could do no better.

Pominville finally converted with a wrist shot, but Marleau matched him with a backhand move. Roy would bag the game winner with a backhand shot of his own. Miller snuffed a Milan Michalek backhand attempt, allowing the 18,690 in attendance to forget about the misery that beset the city for a moment.


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1 2 3 OT SO T
SJ 1 2 2 0 0 5
BUF 3 1 1 0 1 6
1st period - 1, BUF, Mair 7 (Rivet, Kotalik), 6:40. 2, BUF, Spacek 4 (Connolly, Pominville), 8:53, (pp). 3, BUF, Roy 20 ( Stafford ), 14:21, (pp). 4, SJ, Marleau 28 (Vlasic, Thornton), 18:17, (pp).
2nd period - 5, BUF, Kotalik 12 (Rivet, Ellis), 8:27, (pp). 6, SJ, Marleau 29 (Thornton, Semenov), 9:39. 7, SJ, Boyle 14 ( Thornton ), 19:08.
3rd period - 8, SJ, Setoguchi 23 (Boyle, Thornton), 6:09, (pp). 9, SJ, Pavelski 15 (unassisted), 10:14. 10, BUF, Pominville 13 (Rivet, Roy ), 19:56.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - BUF: Kotalik (miss), Stafford (miss), Connolly (miss), Pominville (goal), Roy (goal). SJ: Boyle (miss), Pavelski (miss), Setoguchi (miss), Marleau (goal), Michalek (miss).
1st period - Blake, SJ (holding), 7:52; Pavelski, SJ (hooking), 12:28; Nimminen, BUF (hooking), 17:00.
2nd period - Blake, SJ (tripping), 8:23; Ehrhoff, SJ (tripping), 10:24; Pavelski, SJ (holding), 16:02.
3rd period - Rivet, BUF (high sticking), 4:34.
Overtime -Ehrhoff, SJ (kneeing), 4:34; Vlasic, SJ (slashing), 5:00.
Shots Saves
SJ - Nabokov 35 30
BUF - Miller 35 30
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
SJ 13 17 4 1 35
BUF 18 8 7 2 35
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 2
BUF 3 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Craig Rivet
Patrick Marleau
Jason Pominville
Referees: Walsh, Lee. Linesmen: Gibbs, Miller.

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