Martin Biron wants to do more than play. He wants to win. But his defining pose Thursday featured him with his head down and his glove in the air, the red goal light lit behind him.
Biron made a rare home start for the Buffalo Sabres, but the Toronto Maple Leafs handed him a rare loss. The goaltender fell to 9-3-1 this season after a 4-2 setback in HSBC Arena. The game winner, by Alex Steen off a rebound with 14:40 left, clipped Biron's glove before finding the net, so he retained the glove-up pose for a moment.
"I kind of drifted away from where the rebound was a little bit, and I tried to get the glove up," Biron said. "It got between glove and my pad."
Biron made 24 saves. He gave up two goals in a five-minute span of the third period after the Sabres had tied the score, 2-2.
"At times Marty made some very good saves for us," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I probably don't like the third goal when we got back in it, but it was a situation where you can't fault our goaltender. We had lots of players play subpar."
Biron started for the second time in three games, which should be ample ice time to shake off the inactivity he sustained for the month and half before that. Biron started only two of 22 games from Nov. 18 through Jan. 5.
"My goal is to play some great games so I have to force them into playing me a little bit more," said Biron, who won Saturday in Toronto. "If I can do that, hopefully this will stay the big plan, to use me more.
"It's a lot more fun when you get out there and play games. In that stretch there where we had 15 starts where I didn't see any action, it really was over a month, that wasn't a lot of fun."
Biron had played three times in the arena this season, but the starts came from Nov. 10 through Nov. 17 while Ryan Miller was out with an abdominal strain. The last time Biron had started at home with a healthy set of goalies was April 5, 2006. He backstopped Ruff to his 300th regular-season victory with a 5-4 decision over Ottawa. Ruff is all the way up to 336 wins.
"I've played at home this year, so it's not like something new," Biron said. "I usually play the second of back-to-back games on the road. We play a lot of Friday night home games, Saturdays away, so this is a little different."
Sabres fans didn't get a chance to jeer one of their least-favorite players. Leafs leading goal scorer and longtime antagonist Darcy Tucker, who has a sore foot, missed his fourth straight game. Leafs center and former Sabres captain Michael Peca is out long term with a broken leg and knee injury.
Chris Drury played one night after a battering sequence that saw him get beaned by consecutive shots and cross-checked to boot. He said it was an easy decision to play after he passed a few tests during the morning. He scored the Sabres' second goal -- and his 23rd -- early in the third period.
Drury was part of a quartet of players who finished minus-3. He was joined by winger Ales Kotalik and defensemen Toni Lydman and Brian Campbell.
The NHL released its Web site sales rankings for the December holiday rush, and no Sabres player made the top 20 in jersey sales. There's a simple reason for that. There were no jerseys available at NHL.com because the high demand had everything back-ordered.
Maxim Afinogenov, Daniel Briere, Miller, Drury and Jason Pominville had been mainstays in the top 10 during previous months. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby had the top-selling jersey.
The Sabres did continue to have the largest increase in team sales at the league site, getting a 214 percent boost over December 2005. Miller's T-shirt with his name and number was the No. 3 overall seller for the month, a Sabres hooded sweatshirt was No. 5, and Drury's T-shirt was No. 9.