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Flashback: November 22nd, 2002

Sabres Earn First Win In Over A Month

Columbus_Blue_Jackets2Buffalo_Sabres_OldFor many hockey fans, a losing streak is tough to watch. It gets tougher every time the team is defeated, but they usually end relatively quickly….or do they? The Sabre played the Blue Jackets on November 22nd, 2002, looking for their first win in a month.

Buffalo matched a franchise low winless streak, going 0-9-2-1. This was Ryan Miller’s second career game, and he was able to hang in for a tough victory. Taylor Pyatt had Buffalo on the board with two goals of his own. On the power play, the Sabres had a chance to extend the lead, but Ray Whitney scored a shorthanded goal to cut the lead in half.

At the end of the second, Miroslav Satan had Buffalo back on top by two, but it was quickly responded with another Columbus goal. Vaclav Varada and James Patrick scored for the Sabres in the third, looking like an easy win for Buffalo.

Columbus trailed by three with eight minutes to go in the period. They scored two times within four minutes and were right back in the game. Miller didn’t let another one in. He stopped 17 of 21 shots, leading the Sabres to their first win in a month.

“Gee, they don’t even want us to win a game, the power’s going out,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said, recalling his thoughts at the time. “But it was a huge load off us. We made a few mistakes down the stretch, but overall it was sound game.”

The Sabres never trailed after Pyatt staked them to a 2-0 lead by the 2:35 mark of the second period, wrapping in a rebound behind Columbus’ Marc Denis during a delayed penalty.

“A win is huge, no matter what it looks like at the end of the night, and we want to build on it,” Patrick said. “I’m extremely happy, yes.”

That his goal proved to be the most important one, scoring on a 20-foot backhander to put the Sabres up 5-2 with 7:40 left, is a bonus.

“I’ll take any goal,” Patrick said. “But with six minutes left, I didn’t think it was going to be the game-winner.”

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