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Sabres' Afinogenov forces OT, sinks Habs in shootout

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Maxim Afinogenov forced overtime with 15
seconds left in regulation and then scored in a shootout, rallying
the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on
Friday night.

Buffalo's Thomas Vanek had two assists and also scored in the
shootout, while the Canadiens failed on their two shootout attempts
-- the last when Alex Kovalev had goaltender Ryan Miller down, but
snapped his shot off the right post.

Vanek then scored on his shootout, snapping a shot past
Cristobal Huet.

The Sabres won their home opener with a wild finish, three times
overcoming two-goal deficits and twice in the third period.

Daniel Briere, Jiri Novotny and Jason Pominville also scored in
regulation, giving Buffalo a win in its home opener and its second
consecutive shootout win. The Sabres were coming off a 3-2 shootout
win at Carolina on Wednesday.

Saku Koivu had two goals and an assist for Montreal, while Chris
Higgins had a goal and two assists and Michael Ryder added a goal
and an assist. The loss spoiled Guy Carbonneau's debut as
Montreal's coach.

And the Sabres comeback got a booing crowd -- unhappy with the
officials after the Sabres were penalized three times in a
74-second span -- on its feet when Afinogenov forced overtime.

The tying goal came with the Sabres' net empty and was set up by
co-captains Briere and Chris Drury, who dug the puck out from
behind the Montreal net. Drury fed it in front to Vanek, whose shot
dribbled under Huet, allowing Afinogenov to poke it in the open
side.

The Canadiens appeared to have the game in hand several times,
the last when Koivu scored -- converting Kovalev's pass through the
crease -- during a two-man advantage with eight minutes left to put
Montreal up 4-2.

Briere got the crowd roaring when he scored four minutes later
on a partial breakaway, splitting two Montreal defenders and beat
Huet through the legs.

The Sabres won despite a power-play that continues to fizzle,
going 0-for-5 against Montreal -- including an 88-second, two-man
advantage -- and has yet to capitalize on 14 chances. That's a
considerable dropoff for a unit that returns mostly intact and was
the NHL's third-best last year.

Game notes
The Canadiens, who play at Toronto on Saturday, open with a
three-game road trip before hosting Ottawa on Oct. 14. ... Despite
their success last season in reaching the Eastern Conference final,
the Sabres' average ticket price of $30.07 is third-lowest in the
NHL, according to Team Marketing Report. Buffalo's season-ticket
base of about 14,500 has more than doubled from last year. ...
Canadiens D Craig Rivet played his 600th career game.