After three days of rest and a visit from Dominik Hasek, the Sabres came out with an offensive mindset. A three-goal first period would be all the Sabres would need as they went on to frustrate the Thrashers all game long.
Buffalo defeated Atlanta 8-2 at HSBC Arena on Saturday night.
Jason Pominville opened the scoring with a goal just 24 seconds into the game. Evander Kane received a penalty shot after he was hooked by Leopold on a breakaway. Miller stopped him as Kane lost control of the puck.
Atlanta tied the game with a shot right off the faceoff. Chris Thorburn took a shot from a bad angle that deflected off of Miller’s stick and struck the inside of the goal post. Although it was clear the puck never crossed the line from the angles shown, the officials awarded the Thrashers with the goal. However, many fans didn’t see an alternate angle, showing that the puck clearly did cross the line.
A double minor high sticking penalty gave the Sabres earned a two man advantage for just over a minute. The Sabres blasted shots on net and had good chances on the power play, but Ondrej Pavelec made key saves and Tim Connolly rang one off the pipe.
The Sabres finally cashed in when Tyler Myers’ shot from the point was deflected into the net by Mark Mancari, who earned his first goal of the season. Later on, Rob Niedermayer deflected a shot pas Pavelec to put Buffalo up, 3-1.
Chris Mason replaced Pavelec to start the second period. Pavelec allowed three goals on 11 shots in the first period, but did manage to stop a couple of breakaways that the Sabres had.
Alexander Burmistrov brought the Thrashers back to within one, but Buffalo responded midway through the period.
Nathan Gerbe took a good five or six whacks at the puck from the side of the net, and eventually, he jammed it past Mason. A couple of minutes later, Ennis was on a breakaway and dodged a thrown stick, a slash and a trip, then beat Mason to give Buffalo a 5-2 lead.
Brad Boyes got on the scoresheet with his 17th of the season and 150th of his career. Niedermayer added his second goal of the night late in the third period to but the Sabres up 7-2. On the power play, Tim Connolly added the eighth Buffalo goal.
With the win, Miller recorded his sixth season with at least 30 wins. The Sabres gained a bit of breathing room, moving two points ahead of the ninth place Hurricanes. Atlanta fell six points back of Buffalo, and failed to capitalize on the final meeting of the season against the Sabres.
The Sabres will host Nashville Sunday at 5 p.m.