Tugnutt Frustrates Sabres Before Sellout Crowd
On April 29, 1997, Ron Tugnutt lay in his goal crease and watched helplessly as then-Sabre forward Derek Plant's long slap shot in overtime of game seven slowly tricked across the goal line after deflecting off his glove. The goal eliminated Tugnutt's Ottawa Senators from the playoffs.
Friday night current Columbus goalie Tugnutt made Geoff Sanderson's shot, which slowly trickled across the goal line on Buffalo goalie Martin Biron, stand up as the game-winning goal giving the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-1 decision over the Sabres. The victory, Columbus' first of the season, came before the Sabres' first sellout crowd of the year.
Tugnutt was the difference in the game, earning the first star after he stopped all but one of Buffalo's 30 shots in a contest that was thoroughly dominated by the Sabres.
"In the second period Tugger was very good," Blue Jacket's Head Coach Dave King said. "We had a four-minute penalty that tired out some people and got us on our heels and Ron made several real big saves to keep us in the game."
"[The four-minute power play] was a great opportunity for me to get into the game," said Tugnutt. "It gave me an opportunity to see some pucks, make some saves, and gain some confidence."
Two former Sabres hooked up on the game-winning goal as Sanderson took a pass from defenseman Jean-Luc Grand Pierre and went in alone on Biron. The speedy Columbus forward fired a snap shot that struck the pads of Biron but slowly slid between his legs and across the goal line with 11:04 gone in the third period.
"When I looked at [Marty] he was showing a lot between his legs and I knew that he was going to try to take it away cause of prior knowledge," Sanderson said. "It barely went through, Marty almost had it."
"I knew he was going to go five-hole . I didn't think he had any room, I thought I had it," Biron said. "His shot was very hard for a wrist shot . it trickled through just enough for the puck to get by."
Maxim Afinogenov scored the lone Sabre goal early in the third period to tie the game at one. Afinogenov out-raced Columbus defenseman Deron Quint to a loose puck, slammed on the breaks as Quint flew by, and then fired a wrist shot just inside the right goalpost past Tugnutt.
Serge Aubin opened the scoring for the Blue Jackets when he finished off a two-on-one at 13:48 of the first period. Tyler Wright scored an empty net goal for Columbus to round out the scoring.
Biron faced just 16 shots, making 14 saves.
Sabres defenseman Jay McKee, who was the only Sabre to record a plus-1 rating in the game, was quick to accentuate the positives.
"I think our guys played well, our forwards played great, the power play was on top of its game tonight," he said. "It was just one of those nights where you have trouble putting the puck in the net."
Chris Gratton scored the game-winning goal with 3:05 to play in regulation to give the Buffalo Sabres a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens before 19,067 fans at the Molson Centre Saturday night.
Richard Zednik tied the game at one for Montreal just 22 seconds before Gratton banged home a rebound on Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore. Former Sabre Doug Gilmour made the centering pass to Zednik and picked up an assist.
Buffalo goaltender Martin Biron, playing his second game in as many nights, earned the game's third star and made 29 saves. Theodore stopped 19 shots for Montreal.
Slava Kozlov opened the scoring for Buffalo with his fifth goal of the season just 1:42 into the game. Erik Rasmussen scored an empty net goal to seal the game for Buffalo.
With the win, Buffalo's first of the season on the road, the Sabres moved into a first-place tie in the Northeast Division with the Boston Bruins.