Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 4)

Buffalo leads 3-1

Game 1: Monday, December 19th
Sabres2Final
SO
Flyers1
Game 2: Thursday, February 2nd
Flyers2Final
Sabres4
Game 3: Saturday, March 11th
Sabres6Final
Flyers5
Game 4: Friday, April 7th
Flyers4Final
Sabres2

Sabres 2

(23-10-1, 47 pts)

Flyers 1

(19-8-5, 43 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 19, 2005

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 SO T
BUF 0 0 1 12
PHI 0 1 0 01

Top Skaters

Buffalo: M. Afinogenov - 1 A, 4 SOG, +1

Philadelphia: M. Handzus - 1 A, 2 SOG, Even

Sabres' road hot streak hits nine with shootout win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Even with their top goalie taking the day off and shootouts needed to get the offense going, the Buffalo Sabres are making themselves at home on the road.

Maxim Afinogenov scored for the Sabres in an extra shootout round, extending their road winning streak to nine in a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

Buffalo's nine straight road victories are one shy of the NHL record, set by the Sabres in 1983-84 and matched by St. Louis in 2000 and New Jersey in 2001.

"We've shown a ton of grit, a ton of character," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We didn't have a lot of quality chances, but we got in control play. We sent a message that we were going to come, we were going to be relentless."

The Sabres did it without goalie Martin Biron, given the game off after winning 13 consecutive starts. Ryan Miller was strong in relief, finishing with 33 saves.

"I thought about giving him another start, but I thought there was fatigue in Marty's game and, with fatigue, you worry about getting hurt," Ruff said.

With the score tied at 1 after overtime, Peter Forsberg and Buffalo's Tim Connolly traded goals in the first three shots of the shootout.

Afinogenov slipped one past Antero Niittymaki for the Sabres in the fourth round and Mike Knuble's chance to tie was off the mark, giving the Sabres their seventh straight overall win.

"We're unflappable on the road," said Buffalo's Chris Drury, who was picked for the U.S. Olympic hockey team. "We seem to be fearless right now."

Knuble scored for the Flyers on the same day he made the Olympic squad.

Knuble was one of three Flyers chosen, joining defenseman Derian Hatcher and goalie Robert Esche. All three earned huge ovations when their selections were announced during the second intermission.

"It was kind of a disaster toward the end of the game," Knuble said. "It was a bad way to end the night. Overall, it's a tremendous day. It's an honor today."

With Esche still out with a nagging groin injury, Niittymaki was outstanding in the net. Niittymaki was pounded with shots while the Flyers played shorthanded in the final minutes of overtime, but they were able to kill the penalties.

Niittymaki finished with 27 saves.

"They didn't have a whole lot of great scoring chances. It's kind of an easy game," Niittymaki said. "There were a couple of good saves in the third period, but other than that, it was pretty quiet."

The Flyers are missing several key players because of injuries, including leading scorer Simon Gagne.

With both teams failing to generate much offense, Knuble put the Flyers ahead early in the second period with a power-play goal, his 17th tally of the season.

The Sabres tied it early in the third after a streaking Paul Gaustad took a pass directly in front of the net from Afinogenov and knocked in the puck for his sixth goal.

The Flyers took 13 of their 32 regulation shots in the third period and played most of the game's final two minutes with a five-on-four advantage but were stymied by Miller.

"It starts with goaltending," Drury said.

Game notes


Flyers left winger Josh Gratton was whistled for two fighting majors in the first period. He led Philadelphia's AHL affiliate with 146 penalty minutes in 29 games. ... Flyers right winger Sami Kapanen had his point streak end at five games. ... Biron has a 2.34 goals-against average and .918 save percentage since his winning streak began.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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