They Are Snakebitten Right Now....
The Sabres room was so quiet that you could hear the shower faucet dripping. No tunes. Just Silence. Seething. Simmering.
"This s**t is getting old... very old...", Sabres Dman Toni Lydman told me, as he tore the tape fromm his skates, after the game in the Buffalo room. Lydman and his Sabre mates dominated this game. They know it. Marty Brodeur knows it. The 18,690 in the Arena know it. The Sabres are now winless in 9 games.
"We need to score goals...bottomline."
Lydman shook his head in disbelief as he tried to put his finger on the problem.
"We had more opportunities to score than the two goals we did score. They (NJ) did a good job coming back. Thats how it is...I don't know... the opportunities.. its getting old now.. we gotta score. We played great the first two periods , creating offense and chances. e just can't get frustrated. We have to continue to play the same way. Its time to put the puck in the net ".
The Sabres stormed a shaky New Jersey D and earned themselves a 2-0 lead through two periods. Paul Martin scored late in the second period to put hi steam on the board. The period ended and Buffalo still had the lead and the momentum. The Devils refused to go away in the third period. They outshot Buffalo 12-4 in the period--- by my count, 6-7 Buffalo shots either hit posts or went high and wide of the net. David Clarkson tapped in the game tying goal at 19:53. Overtime, then, the dreaded "S" word.
Was Lydman ever telling himself, "Oh no... here we go again.. another Shootout?"
"There's no "Oh, no. I can't think that way. You have to trust the guys around you and your goaltender..."
I caught up to Zach Parise in the New Jersey roonm after the game. I waited as he and Devils broadcaster, and NHL Hall Of Famer, Chico Resch, had a chat afterwards.
My turn. I asked Parise what his focal point is during the Shootout. Do you try to stay in the fresh ice, or does it not matter?
"I like to stay inside of the path. You don't want to mess with that... all of a sudden its bad ice. I like to stay inside".
Parise chuckled when I compared Buffalo's three Shootout losses to The Devils in the past three weeks as "Groundhog Day" the move.
"Its unbelievable, isn't it? I have never seen anything like it. Its like they go straight to Shootouts, you know? "
Marty Brodeur admits that his team was the second best team on the ice tonight.Brodeur made the big saves-- especially the two bombs that Hank Tallinder threw at him late in regulation.
"They (Buffalo) played so very well. I thought the first two periods they were on us with a lot of pressure. They had a ton of great scoring chances, you know? Even though they got a couple lucky goals, we stuck in there, we'd stayed with them. The big part was we played disciplined. We stayed away from penalties, and played well 5 on 5. We ad a nice goal there late in the second to get us going a little bit. The third we played pretty solid. Our Powerplay didn't work to well, but it was nice to pull it out in the end.
Brodeur credited his teammates for putting two golas n the board after he had surrendered two softies.
"Its always nice when your guys help you out like that and they give you golas. You try to minimize the "weird goals" like I call them...sometimes its gonna happen and sometimes the puck finds hole where there isn't supposed to be one. Tonight was a good example. I stick to what I like to do. I like to keep it simple and play my game, get into the game and give us a chance to win."
Brodeur himself is baffled by the three Shootouts against Buffalo in the past three weeks.
" Its pretty weird actually. I think its just the way it is right now. They (Buffalo) are snakebitten right now... I really think they outplayed us. They probably deserve better. I think when youare not winning, you always find ways to lose games. You know, for some reason, we found a way to stay in there and they did not score that big goal that they needed to take a big advantage on us. They let us hang around and we win the game."
Drew Stafford was waiting for his buddy Zach Parise hen I chatted him up after the game.
"We need a win. Tonight, we dominated but didn't win... we need a nice streak to get us going".
Stafford-Goose-Paille were very effective tonight. The line scored both Buffalo goal. They were very physical as well.
"We have tomorrow off, then we come in Monday to get ready for teh Rangers. We need to go there and beat them, then come home and beat Atlanta. Then, we go out for 7 games on the road. I've never been to Dallas and I'm looking forward to it.
Not everyting was grim in Staff's world tonight.
"Good thing my Green Bay Packers won. They are my team!"
Dan Paille was down on himself after the game.
Paille scored both Buffalo goals, but he bfeels like he could have done more.
" I should have had the third one at the end of the first period. I have to score that one".
I love Paille's passion. He's never complacent. He's never satisfied.
Derek Roy and Max Afinogenov were on press row for the game. They were on their feet for OT and The Shootout.
Roy told me that he's feeling better, The team has today off and they start to prepare for The Rangers on Monday. Can Roy play Wednesday night?
Ryan Miller's postgame comments will follow shortly.