for this game

Afinogenov, Miller help Sabres edge Panthers

Dec 15, 2006 - 3:02 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The Buffalo Sabres want the rest of the Eastern Conference to know the road to the Stanley Cup may run through upstate New York. Maxim Afinogenov re-enforced that idea against the Florida Panthers.

Afinogenov snapped a tie 79 seconds into the third period, lifting the Sabres to a 2-1 triumph over the struggling Panthers.

Thomas Vanek also scored and Ryan Miller stopped 32 shots for Buffalo, which became the first team in the East and second in the league to reach the 50-point mark. The Anaheim Ducks lead the NHL with 56 points.

"I thought we played a pretty good game," Afinogenov said. "We scored on the power play and are playing well."

Afinogenov gave the Sabres the lead during a power play early in the third. After gaining possession of the puck near Florida's net, Chris Drury made a quick cross-crease pass with a defender on his back that Afinogenov fired past goaltender Ed Belfour for his 14th of the season.

"(Drury) probably knew I was going to be there because it was set up like that," Afinogenov said. "I'm on the far side, he just put the puck there and I was by myself and threw the puck in."

Miller made it stand, turning aside all 12 shots he faced in the period.

"I was happy with holding on to a one-goal lead," Miller said. "We've played some tight games. We've let some leads like this go in the third period. We played a really nice defensive game. I'll take the amount of shots. I just have to worry about rebounds."

The win was the third straight for the Sabres, who set a team record with 24 victories and 50 points through their first 31 games.

"It was a pretty hard-fought game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I have to give Florida credit. They are great in the speed department and they've got very good size, and they made it a tough one."

Vanek scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season 4:20 into the second session. With his back to the net, Vanek received a pass from Derek Roy, spun to his right and slipped the puck past the glove of Belfour to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.

Florida needed less than three minutes, however, to pull even. After recovering a loose puck near the net, Stumpel squeezed a shot between Miller's glove and the left goalpost for his seventh of the season.

We're not playing bad hockey," Stumpel said. "We're playing pretty good. We just need a little better shooting, just other little things."

Belfour made 14 saves for the Panthers, who have lost four straight and 10 of their last 12.

"We don't have that many guys that score goals," said Panthers coach Jacques Martin, whose team has just one double-digit goal scorer in captain Olli Jokinen (13). "We have to try different things, I guess."

Florida outshot Buffalo, 33-16, but was 0-for-5 on the power play and committed eight penalties.

"We're getting chances, it's just not going in for us," center Chris Gratton said. "We just have to work a little extra hard and make it work."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 1 0 1
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - THOMAS VANEK 18 (DEREK ROY, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 4:20
    FLA - JOZEF STUMPEL 7 (ROSTISLAV OLESZ) 7:02
    3RD PRD: BUF - (PP) MAXIM AFINOGENOV 14 (CHRIS DRURY, DANIEL BRIERE)
    1:19
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: FL

    Dec 14 9:31 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: BUF - (PP) MAXIM AFINOGENOV 14 (CHRIS DRURY, DANIEL BRIERE)
    1:19 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Panthers vs. SabresDec 14 9:00 PM


  • CORRECTION
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - THOMAS VANEK 18 (DEREK ROY, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 4:20
    FLA - JOZEF STUMPEL 7 (ROSTISLAV OLESZ) 7:02
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 10

    Dec 14 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: FLA - JOZEF STUMPEL 7 (ROSTISLAV OLESZ) 7:02

    Panthers vs. SabresDec 14 8:15 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: BUF - THOMAS VANEK 18 (DEREK ROY, MAXIM AFINOGENOV) 4:20

    Panthers vs. SabresDec 14 8:10 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLA 10 10
    BUF 7 7
    GOALIES: FLA - ED BELFOUR
    BUF - RYAN MILLER

    Dec 14 7:46 PM