for this game

Connolly scores in return; Sabres clinch Presidents' Trophy

Apr 7, 2007 - 9:43 PM
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Tim Connolly's first appearance of the season added to the Buffalo Sabres' dominant regular season.

Playing for the first time in nearly a year, Connolly scored in his return to the lineup as the Sabres clinched the Presidents' Trophy with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Ryan Miller made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season and fourth career for the Sabres (53-21-7), who also established a franchise record for wins. They also matched a team mark with 113 points, previously set in 1974-75.

"It's exciting, for the most part," said Miller, who stopped seven shots in each of the first two periods and 12 in the third. "It's a big accomplishment for this team."

Buffalo, which is tied with Detroit for the league lead in points, will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, which start next week. The Sabres close the regular season at Philadelphia on Sunday.

"It's a heck of an accomplishment for our team," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We put in a lot of hard work and we battled a lot of adversity, so it's very rewarding. We still have another game left, so we have to keep playing hard and stay focused."

Tuning up for the postseason, the Sabres received a boost from Connolly, who was playing for the first time since suffering a concussion in Game Two of last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Ottawa on May 8.

Connolly, who broke a bone below his knee six weeks ago to delay his season debut, scored through traffic from the right faceoff circle at 9:51 of the first period, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead.

"I can't tell you how happy I am," Connolly said. "It means a lot to be back out on the ice. I thought I was pretty calm out there and I thought I handled the puck well. It was very frustrating sitting out. It's real tough on you, but right now there's not a better feeling than being back out there with the guys".

"He handled himself real well out there on the ice," Ruff said. "It was good to see him back."

While Buffalo is among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in its 36-year history, Washington (28-40-14) finished in last place in the Southeast Division. The Capitals also recorded 70 points last season.

"We will be stronger next year," Capitals veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig said. "The young guys have another season under their belt, so that helps with experience. I think the main thing that hurt us this season was depth. If we stayed healthy, maybe things would be a little different right now. I'm looking forward to September."

The Sabres needed just 96 seconds to break on top.

Maxim Afinogenov rushed down the right side, cut toward the middle and slid a shot on goal that was stopped by Kolzig. But Derek Roy swooped in and tapped the rebound home for his 20th goal.

Roy's tally proved to be enough for Miller, who made some huge saves along the way in picking up his 40th win of the season.

An All-Star for the first time in his career, Miller denied superstar Alex Ovechkin's rebound attempt from in close early in the second period. He also made a glove stop on the 21-year-old Russian midway through the session.

Miller's best save came in the third period, when he turned aside Kris Beech's attempt from point-blank range while sprawled on the ice.

"He's been playing real well. This is a nice way to finish the season," Ruff said.

Thanks to Miller's efforts, Ovechkin was held without a point as he finished his sophomore season with 92, including 46 goals. The 2004 first overall pick has 98 tallies in his brief career.

"We have a lot of young guys, so we learned a lot and gained some experience," Ovechkin said. "This experience will really help us. Injuries really hurt us. I think next year will be different. Hopefully we can go to the playoffs."

Washington went 0-for-5 on the power play.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 0 0 2
    WASHINGTON 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 20 (MAXIM AFINOGENOV, HENRIK TALLINDER) 1:36
    BUF - TIM CONNOLLY 1 (DANIEL PAILLE) 9:51
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: NONE
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: BUF - 0 OF 1, WAS - 0 OF 4.
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3R

    Apr 7 3:34 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 0 2
    WASHINGTON 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 20 (MAXIM AFINOGENOV, HENRIK TALLINDER) 1:36
    BUF - TIM CONNOLLY 1 (DANIEL PAILLE) 9:51
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 9 10

    Apr 7 2:37 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 2 2
    WASHINGTON 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 20 (MAXIM AFINOGENOV, HENRIK TALLINDER) 1:36
    BUF - TIM CONNOLLY 1 (DANIEL PAILLE) 9:51
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 9 9
    WAS 7

    Apr 7 1:48 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    WASHINGTON 0
    1ST PRD: BUF - TIM CONNOLLY 1 (DANIEL PAILLE) 9:51

    Sabres vs. CapitalsApr 7 1:31 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    WASHINGTON 0
    1ST PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 20 (MAXIM AFINOGENOV, HENRIK TALLINDER) 1:36

    Sabres vs. CapitalsApr 7 1:12 PM