The Buffalo Sabres Erase Some Pain With Shootout Win (At Least For a Few Hours)

Matt SchaeferCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2009

All the people in the Buffalo area needed tonight was something to distract them for a little while.  They got that and more.

While people should not forget the tragic plane crash in Clearance, New York, a crash that claimed fifty lives late last evening, at least they have something to talk about for a little while.

The Buffalo Sabres took to the ice to a sold-out HSBC Arena tonight, looking to give the fans something to watch for a few hours to forget the pain. 

They took them on an emotional roller coaster ride, that ended with a 6-5 shootout victory over the best team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks.

The two points were important in this game, seeing as the Sabres are in a tight race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  This one was for the entire community though.

With the NHL inquiring to cancel this game, they ultimately decided to do the right thing and play it while also showing their respect to the lost lives by having a moment of silence before the game got underway. 

Sports is a weird thing in our lives. The game tonight in HSBC Arena brought people from all over the community together as one. When people needed to get together and release some of that raw emotion inside of them the most, the Sabres were there for their hometown.

Even though the Sabres might not be from the area originally, the players currently call this their home.  Head Coach Lindy Ruff, Patrick Lalime, Jason Pomminville, Teppo Numminem, and Jaroslav Spacek all live close to the Clearance location in which the plane went down. 

They certainly know what people are going through here. 

What most people forget is that these athletes are human too.

So even with the heavy hearts, the Sabres played one of their hardest games of the season.

Adam Mair, Spacek, and Drew Stafford all scored goals within the first 15 minutes of the game to put the Sabres up 3-0. 

A goal by Patrick Marleau for San Jose made the score 3-1 heading into the first intermission.

A blast from the point from Ales Kotalik put the Sabres back up by three again on the power play during period No. 2.  The goal was the Sabres third power play goal of the night.  This came after Buffalo went 1-for-12 with the man advantage against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.  They finished converting 3-of-6 power play opportunities. 

San Jose would battle back though, showing why they are they best team in the NHL.  Four unanswered goals by Marleau (his second), Dan Boyle, Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks a 5-4 lead.

It looked as if the game would end that way and the fans would be sent home with their sorrows.  Not on this night though.

A shot from the point by Buffalo Captain, Craig Rivet, was tipped home by Jason Pominville with 3.9 seconds left to play to send it to overtime.  It was Pominville’s first goal in 17 games. 

After the first three shooters for each team were stopped, Pomminville and Marleau exchanged goals in the shootout. 

A backhand by Derek Roy and then a save by Ryan Miller’s glove sealed the win for Buffalo.

It wasn’t your normal game though.  When the Sabres looked down and out they battled back to win the game and put some smiles on the faces of their fans.

The people of Buffalo were hurting and so were the players that represents the hometown.  Their hard work was greatly appreciated, as they received a standing ovation from the crowd after tying the game at five.   

It was the second time in recent memory that the Sabres were there for there hometown.  

Although not to the same extent, but the “October Storm” a couple of years ago affected the citizens and players of Buffalo too.  They happened to be on a road trip when the storm itself occurred and with the power outages in the area, they were worried about their families. 

Generators were sent to their homes by the team to help take care of their troubles but may people in the Buffalo area were not so lucky.  People were out of power for days and in some places even a week or longer. 

The first home game in HSBC Arena though was huge.  It brought the entire community together as one.  People were showering in the dark with ice cold water (or even not at all) to make the game to spend some time with more than 18,000 of their closet friends.

Ones that could not gathered around battery powered radios or even missed the game entirely.

The Sabres knew what they had to do then to pull out a win and they did the same thing tonight.

When the city needed them most, the Sabres came through and provided three hours of entertainment for the fans at the arena and watching on TV.

In hindsight, it was just a meaningless hockey game, but to the city of Buffalo it was so much more.

It was an escape.


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