Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Buffalo leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 8th
Ducks2Final
OT
Sabres3

Ducks 2

(12-12-5, 29 pts)

Sabres 3

(18-10-1, 37 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 8, 2005

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 OT T
ANA 1 0 1 02
BUF 0 0 2 13

A. Kotalik (Sabres - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Afinogenov (Sabres - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

T. Vanek (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Sabres sink Ducks on Afinogenov's OT winner

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres have loftier goals than just a quick start.

"We all really want to go all the way," said forward Ales Kotalik, who scored the tying goal in the Sabres' come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Thursday night.

Maxim Afinogenov scored 2:11 into the extra session, and Thomas Vanek added a penalty-shot goal to rally Buffalo to its 10th win in 12 games.

Afinogenov's winner came with Anaheim forward Todd Marchant in the penalty box after he hooked Brian Campbell. Afinogenov ripped a slap shot past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere from the right circle after taking a pass from Jason Pominville.

"It was a good pass," Afinogenov said. "Giguere went down, and I just shot short-side and up."

Marchant disagreed with the call.

"I thought I had stick on stick, and not on his body, especially at the end of the play," Marchant said. "But that's his call."

It was the fourth game the Sabres have won when trailing after two periods. They improved to 5-1 in overtime.

"We're just rolling four lines, playing good defensively and getting good goaltending," Vanek said. "We're just grinding out wins right now."

Things certainly looked bleak for Buffalo after the Sabres were unable to solve Giguere through the first two periods. They peppered him with 15 shots in the middle frame but still trailed 1-0.

Whatever panic that could have set in between periods, didn't.

"We weren't frustrated," Vanek said. "They were playing great but we were only down by a goal."

Vanek's first career penalty shot finally got the Sabres going. With 11:54 remaining in the third period, Vanek broke in alone on Giguere, but was hooked from behind by defenseman Ruslan Salei. On the ensuing penalty shot, Vanek faked a slap shot, before deking Giguere to tie it at 1.

"Most of the time I just make it up as I go in, but tonight I knew I had to move Giguere because he's such a big goalie with big shoulders," Vanek said.

Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist, and Chris Kunitz also scored for Anaheim, which lost its second straight.

"We put ourselves in a position to win," Mighty Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We just have to find ways to close those ones out."

Giguere, hampered recently by groin and hamstring injuries, made 28 saves in his first start in eight games. He is 0-5 in games decided after regulation.

"I have to be more aggressive," he said. "You have to want to win more. You can't just be satisfied that you were close."

Martin Biron won his ninth straight start, making 28 saves.

Kunitz scored his third of the season seven minutes in to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Skating in with Marchant on a 2-on-1, Kunitz's attempted pass to Marchant was blocked by Buffalo defenseman Henrik Tallinder. The puck ricocheted off Tallinder's stick, and bounced past a sliding Biron.

Lupul made it 2-1 just over two minutes after Vanek's penalty shot with his 12th goal, but Kotalik tied it at 2 with 3½ minutes left in regulation.

"Our confidence level right now is at a level where they just believe they can make the difference late," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

Game notes


Buffalo hasn't lost to Anaheim in 10 games, dating to Jan. 1999. ... It was Anaheim's first road game since visiting Dallas on Nov. 23. ... Anaheim D Sandis Ozolinsh missed his fourth straight game with a knee strain. ... Giguere is 4-1-4 in his last nine starts.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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