Buffalo 6, Ottawa 5 (shootout)
Many fans will remember this game for a long time. This wasn’t just an ordinary game. The Sabres were in the mix of one of their best regular season performances of all time, a year in which they would win the Presidents Trophy.
The Senators and Sabres have always had a rivalry, but this game was nastier than usual. Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson, two Sabre killers each scored a goal within two minutes halfway through the first period.
Buffalo got on the board late in the first with a goal from Chris Drury to cut the lead in half. In the second period, Thomas Vanek took control. He scored two goals in 39 seconds to put the Sabres up 3-2.
Just a couple of minutes later, it began. Chris Neil took a cheap shot at Buffalo’s captain. Drury was on the ice bleeding, and Drew Stafford went after Neil. Not much developed until the faceoff, when Lindy Ruff put out Andrew Peters, Adam Mair, and Patrick Kaleta.
This was Kaleta’s first NHL game and he had family members watching from the stands. Once the puck was dropped, the Sabres players all went after the Senators, beginning the brawl. As they all went after each other, goaltenders Martin Biron and Ray Emery dropped the gloves as well.
Even though Emery, the former boxer, may have gotten the upper hand against Biron, he didn’t fair as well against Peters, his next opponent.
Ruff was irate at Ottawa’s coach Brian Murray, after Neil took a shot at Buffalo’s captain. All twelve players on the ice were involved in the scrap. The fight resulted in 100 penalty minutes. Both goaltenders were ejected from the game.
“I put out skill players and he sends out the five guys on his team that are going to start a fight,” Murray said, referring to Ruff. He then accused the Sabres coach of ordering his players to start the fight.
Ruff’s answer to that was: “I’m not going to comment what I had on my mind.”
Even after the brawl was completed, the fireworks didn’t stop. The two teams went back and forth in terms of scoring. Heatley scored again to tie the game at three. Buffalo then rebounded with two goals from Clarke MacArthur and Dmitri Kalinin to take a two goal lead.
Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher each scored a goal early in the third, and just like that the game was tied at five. The teams would need a shootout to determine the winner.
After three shooters each, Ryan Miller and Martin Gerber were perfect in net. Drew Stafford scored for Buffalo, putting the pressure on the Senators Mike Fisher. Fisher wasn’t able to score and the Sabres won what was arguably the game of the year.
Miller made 22 of 25 saves and earned the win, while Gerber stopped 15 of 17 in the loss. In four minutes of ice time, Andrew Peters racked up 19 penalty minutes.
This will remain one of the most memorable games in Sabres history.