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Sabres Central

Sabres out-muscle Broad Street Bullies

Two game sweep is a Christmas present to fans and Ruff

By Rick Anderson
December 23, 2007

Fight, scratch and claw! That's how the Sabres had to play against the new version of the Broad Street Bullies. The Sabres were up to the task as they got all 4 points from the Flyers with two 1-goal victories. It was a playoff atmosphere at Christmas time.

Marty Biron was stellar in the nets in his return to Buffalo
[Sabres Central Photo \ Rick Anderson]

After two exciting games this weekend between the two teams, one thing is clear: The Sabres and Flyers have to meet in the playoffs! There’s no question that it would be a rock ‘em, sock ‘em series, high with excitement and hits. The two teams slugged it out over the weekend, with the Sabres beating Philly both times, 3-2 and 6-5 in a shootout. This mini-series had all the flavor of a playoff series in June.

Sabres fans got a couple of early Christmas presents from the Sabres in these two thrillers. Some may be kicking themselves (including me), who missed the Sabres tying goal with 7 second remaining in regulation. That came with the Sabres winning a faceoff and Jochen Hecht ripping a shot that Thomas Vanek got his stick on and redirected it past former Sabres goalie Marty Biron.

Coming from behind and forcing overtime was a trademark for this team last year when they had Danny Briere and Chris Drury. Now maybe the Sabres are re-acquiring that golden touch.

After a scoreless overtime, the Sabres entered their first shootout of the season. Ales Kotalik, who got hit in the head with a puck and needed 20 stitches to close the gash before the game, tallied the only shootout goal when he blasted it past Biron. Ryan Miller, on the other side, finally shutdown the Flyers shooters and the Sabres skated out of Philly with all 4 points on the line this weekend. The Flyers salvaged a loser point to keep the Sabres from spurting 4 points in front of them in the standings.

The Sabres had to endure many penalty kills during this game. Some cost them dearly, and they were shorthanded for 4 minutes late in the game. The Flyers had clearly ripped the momentum from the Sabres grasp midway through the contest when they came back from a 3-1 deficit and score 2 shorthanded goals in less than a minute. From that point on, the Sabres were just trying to prevent a complete Flyer onslaught.

In the overtime period, the Sabres had to kill off yet another penalty to prevent the Flyers from splitting the series. Dimitri Kalinin went for hooking and the Flyers peppered Miller with 7 shots, while the Sabres only got 1 on Biron in the 5 minute overtime.

Miller, who got beat on several shots he’d like to have back, was stellar in the overtime and shootout. He faced Mike Richards, Briere and Jeff Carter in the shootout. After Kotalik scored, Miller knew that his head-to-head battle with his former backup would be intense. With Carter starring down Miller, the Sabres goalie came way out and was able to get his stick on Carter’s skate and force him to miss. Miller then when on one knee and pumped his fist as he slid toward the Sabres bench. The Sabres came out and mobbed him.

This game, like Friday's, had plenty of fights. Peters was once again in a fisticuffs, but unlikely fighter Nathan Pasche also duked it out with 6'-2", 216 pound Riley Cote and held his own. The Sabres as a whole stepped it up and played out of character. Even Maxim Afinogenov, who scored the Sabres first goal, played a much more physical game this weekend. He was involved in a fight Friday night and got called for interference when he ran a Flyer into the boards.

Friday night fights

The first game in the home-and-home series set the tone for both games. The Sabres, who have been strongly criticized for their lack of physical play, matched the Flyers, hit for hit. In fact, Jaroslav Spacek came out hitting everything in sight. He got Briere with a clean solid hit to the boards and then got tagged with interference when he body-slammed Scottie Upshall in the corner boards.

The Sabres allowed the Flyers to get back in the game and tie it at 2-2, but Jochen Hecht got the winning goal at 17:09 of the third stanza.

Briere gets Bronx cheer

The Sabres fans booed Michael Peca when he first came back to Buffalo after being traded to the Islanders back at the turn of the century. The fans have also booed Dominik Hasek, Miro Satan, and many other former Sabres when they play in Buffalo. So Danny Briere and Marty Biron should feel honored that they are in good company.

Friday night, Briere was not given a warm welcome back by either the fans nor the Sabres themselves. Every time Briere touched the puck, the chorus of boos ran down in a thundering crescendo. Briere was also the subject of some thunderous hits, one especially hard check was delivered by Jaroslav Spacek.

Danny Briere takes the faceoff against former teammate Jochen Hecht. Briere was booed everytime he touched the puck.
[Sabres Central Photo \ Rick Anderson]

Briere wanted it to go a bit differently. He had this date circled on his calendar since the schedule was released. Briere must have played out the scenario in his head countless times before Friday night's real encounter. He would score the winning goal. He would not say any sour notes about how the Sabres mistreated him in contract negotiations or lack there of, but would do his talking on the ice.

Friday night, the Sabres shut him down without a point and they did all the talking. Here's from the Philly side about the first in the home-and-home series with the Sabres and Flyers.

The game itself was of a playoff nature. The Sabres and Flyers entered the game tied for 7th place in the Eastern Conference in points. The Sabres came back from a 2-1 deficit in the third, scoring twice and taking the game 3-2. The two teams began the home-and-home 8 point series in Buffalo and will conclude in Philly Saturday night.

"They’re Sabres fans first and foremost," admitted Briere. "That’s about what I was expecting. I’m just disappointed in the way we lost the game more than anything else. It was a fun game. It was a fun day, apart from the way we found a way to lose."

Slideshow of Friday's game

Sabres Central has prepared a slideshow of the Sabres-Flyers game from Friday night. Just click on the link below to watch the slideshow:

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