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Sabres Central

Sabres explode Caps with late fireworks
By Rick Anderson
January 27, 2002

Miroslav Satan puts the game into overtime with his late goal in the third peirod. Olaf Kolzig lays on the ice as Satan puts it past him and Chris Gratton raises his stick in celebration.
[AP Photo/Nick Wass]

The Buffalo Sabres stormed back in dynamic fashion Sunday afternoon, scoring with only 52.4 ticks remaining in regulation and then scoring in overtime to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2.

Stu Barnes scored the winner with 3:30 remaining in overtime to pull even with the Caps in the Eastern Conference standings with 49 points. Alexei Zhitnik took the shot on Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig and Barnes was there to tip it past him for the very important two points.

"Give the credit to Zhitnik, he made a great play," described Barnes. "It hits my shaft and I got a lucky bounce."

With Sabres goalie Martin Biron pulled for the extra attacker late in the game, the Sabres put pressure on Kolzig. Tim Connolly put a shot on net and Barnes attempt to shoot the rebound actually turned into a pass to Miroslav Satan, who was able to knock a rebound in past Kolzig to force the overtime.

"Timmy (Connolly) made a good shot on net," described Barnes. "I tried to get it back on the forehand and shoot it and kind of whiffed it off the side of my stick. And Miro's down there, and there was no mistake he was putting that in for sure. It was nice." Barnes had scored the Sabres first goal in the second stanza on a breakaway after Jaromir Jagr had opened the scoring.

"He's been fabulous all year for us," lauded Sabres coach Lindy Ruff about Barnes. "He's been rewarded for the way he's played. He got his contract extended just a few days ago, and he showed why today."

With the win, the Sabres go into a tie with the Capitals for the 11th spot in the East. They are just 3 out of the 8th and final playoff spot occupied by the Montreal Canadiens who beat San Jose Sunday. The New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh are in front of the Sabres in the race for that final spot.

The Capitals were licking their wounds after the game.

"We always find a way to lose," moaned Jagr.

After the Sabres sent the game into overtime, Washington coach Ron Wilson didn't feel any real despair, as the Caps did have a 5-0-8 record in overtime so far this year.

"We didn't feel any impending doom," stressed Wilson. "We have done very well this year in overtime even if the other team has scored to tie the game in the third period. We had two great chances right at the end of regulation and even a chance in overtime."

Biron was solid once again in the nets, making 29 saves and coming up big especially in the second when the Caps put 17 shots on him.

The Sabres go to Carolina on Tuesday for their final game before the All-Star break. They hope to go on the break with a 3-game winning streak.

Sabres Talk

The players were giving Barnes kudos after the game for his fine performance.

"He's been always that kind of athlete who always gives a second effort and it's not surprising to see him score goals like that," Satan said.

Biron had his observation of the Sabres captain.

"When Stuey scored it was just awesome to see that we came back like this," remarked Biron . "I think we deserved it because, especially in the first 10 minutes, we were all over them."

"The first goal scored probably is going to be in the top five greatest goals of the year. It was unbelievable," lauded Biron. "He could play for a lot of basketball teams dribbling the puck like this."

Although Ruff was pleased about Satan scoring the tying goal to send the game into overtime, he was none too happy over missed opportunities earlier.

"He missed two great chances in the first period," Ruff analyzed. "Miro doesn't usually miss those. I thought the power play moved it around exceptional. They had four great chances, two of them are on your best goal-scorer's stick and he misses an empty net both times. Even the goal at the end of the game, that's one that Miro's missed several times throughout this stretch, but he buried it and I think his reaction sums up the fact that he finally didn't miss one of them."

Read ESPN's Game Recap for more game details.

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