Oct 15, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres celebrate the win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Buffalo won 4-3 in shootout. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports Buffalo Sabre

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Now that’s a bit more like it!

In a game that was very reminiscent of the shoutout at the Goalie Corral – aka, the Buffalo Sabres’ first home game against the Ottawa Senators – the boys in blue and gold found themselves in an up-and-down affair in Long Island tonight.

The difference?  The Sabres won, baby!    In a shootout on the road, after falling behind three times, no less.


Right from the start of this game,you could tell this was going to be a back-and forth affair.  Yes, the Islanders put their speed to use early on, resulting in a first period goal by Frans Nielsen.  And yes, I was tempted to yell, “Here we go again!” once the Sabres fell into that early 1-goal deficit.  Buffalo showed some promising signs in the first 20 minutes, but again, found themselves living in their end of the ice a few too many times during the frame and were lucky to find themselves just down one.  Ryan Miller to the rescue, again.

The Sabres came out extremely focused and energetic in the second period, reminding me of their third period effort against the Chicago Blackhawks this past Saturday.  Leading the charge?  I almost didn’t believe it when I saw it, but at 8:11 tonight I Tweeted


Lo and behold, I was back on Twitter two minutes later with this:

The Tyler EnnisDrew StaffordMarcus Foligno line was gangbusters all night long, and Ennis’ goal was a great example of the “No quit” mentality that this line displayed all night.  Just when it seemed like Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov had control of the puck, Ennis spotted the biscuit leaking out behind Nabokov and pounced on it before any of the Islanders could react.  Ennis has been trying to prove me wrong ever since I wrote that the Sabres should pass on signing him to a long-term contract once this season ends, so it’s good to see him finally break through and score his first goal of the season.

After the Sabres coughed up the lead shortly after Ennis had tied things up, Thomas Vanek scored a beautiful one timer to give him his team-leading third goal of the season, tying the game at 2-all.   In true Buffalo Sabres fashion, they managed to fall behind yet again after John Tavares scored on the power play, setting the stage for Marcus Foligno‘s late-game heroics:

Overtime came and went in the blink of an eye, and fortune finally favored the Sabres as Vanek and Ennis scored in the shootout to give the Sabres their first win of the season.

The Sabres didn’t play a perfect game, and are relying on their goalies to give them superhuman efforts every single night, which is going to catch up to them eventually.  As imperfect a game as they played, however, you had to be entertained by this contest.  Erasing three separate one-goal deficits has to be a huge confidence boost for this young team, and watching so many veteran players – Vanek, Ennis, Foligno, Christian Ehrhoff, Stafford, even Tyler Myers, to name a few – all show up to play is kind of what we have all been waiting for this year.  I’m sure Ron Rolston would prefer that the Sabres not try to match a speedy team like the Islanders stride for stride, and there was some concern in the Twitterverse that the Sabres might run out of gas in the third, but damn it all if the Sabres didn’t show me something that has been lacking so far this season: heart.

So rejoice, Sabres fans!  The team record for worst start will have at least another year to be broken!  It’s only one win, but it guarantees this team won’t go 0-81-1, so let your hair down and party like it’s 1999!  Sabres win!


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