The Buffalo Sabres have been giving hockey fans all over the world some amazing memories for over 40 years. Star players such as Jim Shoenfeld, Alexander Mogilny and Thomas Vanek have been topping the sport casts with Rick Azar and Ed Kilgore ever since Richard Nixon has been in office.
Unbelievable saves to disappointing goaltending from the likes of Gerry Desjardins, Tom Barrasso and Dominik Hasek have caused more than a few gray hairs. Putting aside all the ups and downs the Sabres have brought us, there is one particular season that stands out far above the rest.
The 2005-2006 Buffalo Sabres team grabbed the attention of the entire hockey community and brought Western New York together for a very special playoff run. Sabres fever was at its peak, rivaling even the 1974-1975 season.
Buffalo finished an impressive regular season with 110 points, finishing 2nd in the Northeast Division. Hard, consistent work throughout the season paved the way for a first round playoff match up with the Philadelphia Flyers.
From a hockey fan stand point, the series couldn’t have been drawn up any better to make it more exciting. The first two games were played in Buffalo, with the Sabres winning them both. Danny Briere scored in the second overtime period to grab game one and the Sabres blew out Philly in game two 8-2.
The teams traveled to Philadelphia for the next pair of games with the Flyers taking them both and making it a series. Buffalo turned it up a notch and eventually eliminated Philly in game six with another blow out 7-2
The excitement continued to build in anticipation for the next round and the Ottawa Senators. Once again the Buffalo Sabres took the first two games, this time on the road, and everyone back home was jumping on the band wagon. Buffalo continued their amazing play by eliminating the Senators in five games, three of which had to be decided in overtime.
In many fans opinion, the series possibly gave us the greatest goal in Sabre history. JasonPominville skated the length of the ice, out hustled Daniel Alfredsson to the front of the net, and wristed the puck past Ray Emery. Not only was it a tremendous goal, it was short handed and it put the Sabres to the next round. Rick Jeanneret was right; this team was “scary good”.
With one more hurdle to overcome, the Buffalo Sabres had the opportunity to play for the ultimate prize for only the third time in their long history. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Carolina Hurricanes. After the first four games the teams were even at two games apiece with each team winning a home game and road game.
The trend continued for the next two games except both ended in overtime. Cory Stillman scored on the power play to win game five for the Hurricanes and Danny Briere tied the series with his own power play goal in game six.
The Sabres were battling the injury bug for the entire third round, but just before game seven their fourth regular defenseman, Jay Mckee, joined Teppo Numminen, Dmitri Kalinin and Henrik Tallinder on the injury list. This proved too much for the team and the Carolina Hurricanes moved on to the Stanley Cup finals with a 4-2 victory.
As the 2005-2006 season came to an end one series too early for Sabre fans, it provided many unforgettable moments, and at the time, a promising outlook into the future of our team. With six games going into overtime, six other games being decided by one goal, and three games with the sabres scoring at least seven goals, the 2005-2006 season will always be remembered as one of the Buffalo Sabres best.