NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Atlanta|
(Sunday, March 18th)
Final Score: Atlanta 4, Buffalo 3 (OT)
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Keith Tkachuk's power-play goal with 38 seconds
left in overtime lifted the Atlanta Thrashers to a 4-3 victory over the
Buffalo Sabres at Philips Arena.
Buffalo started the extra frame with a power play as Tkachuk was issued a
slashing call as time expired in regulation, but the Sabres were unable to
take advantage and with 1:14 remaining in overtime Jaroslav Spacek was called
for holding Ilya Kovalchuk.
Atlanta brought the puck into the Buffalo end and Alexei Zhitnik sent a pass
from the high slot to Slava Kozlov, who used a touch pass to get the puck to
the slot where Tkachuk fired a wrister into the right corner of the net to win
Zhitnik finished the game with a goal and two assists and Kovalchuk and Eric
Belanger each had a goal for Atlanta, which has won three of its last four
games, including consecutive overtime wins.
Kari Lehtonen finished the game with 35 saves for the Thrashers, who have 88
points and hold a six-point lead over Tampa Bay for first place in the
Southeast Division and third place in the Eastern Conference.
"We have a long way to go," said Tkachuk. "We have to focus on our game.
Obviously it's a huge step getting six points ahead but there is a long way to
go. It was exciting beating a team like Buffalo."
Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy each had a goal and an assist and Ryan Miller made
27 saves for the Sabres, who finished a four-game road trip with a 2-0-2 mark.
Buffalo holds a five-point lead over New Jersey for first place in the Eastern
"We feel if we can stay out of the box it would have been a different
game," said Miller. "It's unfortunate, a bad bounce, Spacek makes a decision
on what to do and he tried to buy as much time as he could and ended up
getting a holding penalty. I give the refs the benefit of the doubt on that
one. Both sides seem to get some bad calls tonight, but overall we just need
to stay out of the box in a game like this."
Atlanta drew first blood in the game with a 5-on-3 goal when Kovalchuk's slap
shot from the top of the right circle found the back of the net just 3:50 in.
Buffalo, though, tied the game a little over two minutes later when, on a 2-
on-1 rush, Roy slid a pass from the left circle to the slot where Drew
Stafford's wrist shot beat Lehtonen on the glove side.
The Thrashers grabbed a 2-1 lead with 4:24 left in the first. With Buffalo
attacking in the Atlanta end, a defenseman pinched in to help, but the move
backfired as Atlanta cleared the zone and Belanger picked up the puck and
skated into the Buffalo end on a 2-on-1. Belanger faked a slap shot and from
the inside left circle let fly with a wrister that went into the left corner
of the net for his 16th goal of the campaign.
Buffalo was skating hard in the second period to tie the game and were
rewarded for its effort when Teppo Numminen flicked a shot on net from the
right point that Vanek, who was parked in front, tipped between the pads of
Lehtonen with 4:12 left in the frame.
Miller stopped all nine shots he faced in the middle stanza.
Buffalo's Adam Mair took a foolish cross-checking call to give the Thrashers a
power play and the team took advantage as Niclas Havelid slid a pass from the
left point to the right point where Zhitnik unleashed a one-timer that beat
Miller over the glove 7:45 into the third period for a 3-2 lead.
The Sabres, though, tied the game less than five minutes later as Henrik
Tallinder unleashed a shot from the top of the left circle that hit off the
helmet of Lehtonen and, as the goaltender was laying dazed on the ice, Roy
grabbed the loose puck at the right side of the net and slammed it home with
7:35 left in regulation.
"It hit me in the ear and I was out for just enough time for them to score,"
said Lehtonen about the goal. "Just a lucky bounce for them. We didn't get
the rebound and they scored right away."
Atlanta has off until Thursday when it will host San Jose...Buffalo returns
home to face Washington on Wednesday...Each team won two games in the season-
series...Atlanta went 3-for-5 on the power play and killed all five of
Buffalo's power play opportunities.
03/18 17:17:01 ET