Final - OT
  for this game

Lehtonen, Thrashers end Sabres' record winning streak

Oct 29, 2006 - 1:13 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The Buffalo Sabres had a date with history. But Kari Lehtonen and the Atlanta Thrashers crashed the party.

Lehtonen made 32 saves and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored the game-winner in the shootout as the Thrashers posted a 5-4 triumph over the Sabres.

It was the first win in the last three games for Atlanta, which handed Buffalo its first loss of the season. The Sabres entered with a 10-0-0 record and needed only one more victory to set an NHL record for most consecutive triumphs to open a season.

"We didn't want to be a part of history," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "We had talked about this, and it was a nice motivation factor. (The Sabres) had an unbelievable start, and we didn't want them to go 11-0. My hat goes off to them; they are a solid organization."

"We didn't necessarily lose but we just didn't win," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "But it was a heck of a game. That game had everything in it. ... When one team controlled the puck offensively, the other did a great job clogging it up. Their goaltender made some key saves for them at key times."

The Sabres appeared primed for the record-setting win after Jochen Hecht tallied late in regulation to forge a 4-4 tie and force overtime.

But Lehtonen made a terrific save late in the extra session, turning aside Derek Roy's shot from the slot with 1:10 remaining.

"We were lucky there in the last minute," Lehtonen said. "I was able to get a piece of it."

Lehtonen continued his solid play in the shootout, forcing the Sabres to miss the net on two of their three shots.

"I'm going to need to stop everything if we want to win because Miller doesn't give up too many goals there," Lehtonen said. "It was a different mindset than I've ever had before."

After Kozlov scored the lone goal of the shootout on a wrister, Lehtonen preserved the lead with another fantastic save, stuffing Maxim Afinogenov's backhander with his right pad.

"I just try to think, 'What's the goalie thinking about me,'" Kozlov said. "Basically it's 50-50. You have to do something different every time."

Miller turned aside Marian Hossa on the Thrashers' second shot, but Atlanta sealed the victory when Buffalo's Thomas Vanek snapped a shot over the crossbar.

"We're resilient," Hartley said. "We're focused, we stay on the job. Tonight when they scored late, it was like playoff atmosphere out there. The fans were unbelievable, the building was shaking. Suddenly they had the momentum on their side. But we managed to keep our composure."

Captain Scott Mellanby and Bobby Holik each had a goal and an assist for Atlanta, which improved to 8-1-3 this season.

"That's an excellent hockey team over there," Mellanby said. "We were excited to be a part of it. They were going for a record. Win or lose, it was something we were pretty excited about."

"We weren't here to make statements, we were here to win hockey games," Holik added. "We want to get to the playoffs. We're staying healthy, playing better as a team. Hopefully that's going to bring us better results than what we had in the past."

Miller stopped 32 shots while Jason Pominville had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who had outscored their opponents, 49-23, during their phenomenal winning streak.

"It would have been fun to be on our own in the history (book)," Miller said. "We're mentioned with some good hockey teams. We're just happy it was a good start for us. Every point counts. We battled to get back and get a point. We should be proud of the way we handled ourselves."

"The guys in that room were having a lot of fun," Ruff added. "That fun and energy spilled into the community. It's great getting on a run. I said we're still on a run. We're 21 out of 22 (points) and we still don't have a number in the loss column. It's something for them to be proud of."

Atlanta superstar Ilya Kovalchuk snapped a 3-3 tie at 3:38 of the third period with his eighth goal, a snap shot from the slot which beat Miller's glove.

But Buffalo forced overtime with just 1:44 left in regulation thanks to Hecht, who banged home a backhander off a rebound from the slot.