Recap (courtesy Sabres.com)
Perhaps the Sabres should bench Drew Stafford every other game?
Fresh off a benching against St. Louis on Sunday, Stafford had something to prove last night. Yet in the first period, I had mentally singled out Stafford as the Sabre who looked like he cared the least out there - and that was really saying something, given that all of them looked disinterested. On one of the Penguins' goals (and I don't remember which one), he was simply standing along the boards, not appearing to do much at all.
Then, down 3-0 in the second period, Stafford was chosen to take a penalty shot after our old friend Jay McKee covered the puck in his own crease. Stafford "buried" it (he later admitted he whiffed on the shot a bit) and the comeback was on. His second goal was impressive, but it was his assist on the Gaustad goal that made me realize he had put the team entirely on his back. Easily the best game Stafford has played this year, if not ever.
Stafford may have stolen two points from Pittsburgh last night, but it wouldn't have happened without Patrick Lalime. Lindy gave Ryan Miller the hook after three soft goals left the team in a 3-0 hole. Enter Lalime, who decided that the best way to build a rally was to make some saves. The Penguins were happy to let him get into the game by pouring shots on net, and Lalime stood tall. The 18 saves he made to close out the middle frame gave the Sabres a foundation upon which to build that rally. Timely goaltending often brings with it a shift in momentum, and there was no better example than this.
Anytime you can say you came back from a 3-0 hole against the defending champs and won in regulation, that's pretty impressive. This was one for the ages.
Next game: vs. Atlanta, 1/1/10. The Thrashers are still clinging to the #8 seed, but are only 3-6-1 in their last 10.
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