Most of his teammates, and his opponents for that matter, were skating the Aud ice with their parched tongues dangling below their knees. But not Dave Andreychuk; he had energy to spare.
Andreychuk is uncertain of exactly how much ice time he received during the final two periods of the Buffalo Sabres 3-3 tie with Detroit on Sunday night. But he knows it wasn't much.
"I was sitting there for a looonnng time," he said.
What a luxury. The Sabres were three minutes away from their second loss of the weekend, yet the player with the game's freshest legs happened to be the No. 4 goal scorer in franchise history.
No surprise, then, that No. 4 moved closer to No. 3 by scoring the tying goal with 21 seconds left in regulation. In a game pitting two teams playing their second games in as many days, a displaced Andreychuk was clearly the player capable of late heroics.
The goal -- Andreychuk's 12th of the season and 264th as a Sabre -- came as he warded off Red Wings defender Rick Zombo to beat goaltender Glen Hanlon with the deflection of a pinpoint pass.
Dale Hawerchuk set up the scoring play from the right corner. But impatience beckoned repeatedly before Hawerchuk spotted a teammate darting toward the goal.
"I took it wide and I had a bit of time," Hawerchuk said. "I kept waiting for somebody to go to the net, and Dave Andreychuk made a great play going to the net. It was a heck of a tip-in."
And a touch of serendipity. Time doesn't favor a player skating hard toward the goal with a checker on his backside. Talk about touch-and-go.
"I didn't actually see it go in," Andreychuk said. "All I wanted to do is get my stick on it when it came in front. After that I got knocked down and I don't even know how it went in."
The goal erased the 3-2 lead that Shawn Burr supplied Detroit by scoring
his second goal of the night with 3:02 remaining in regulation. Rookie Johan Garpenlov had the other Red Wings goal, while Hawerchuk and Alexander Mogilny netted singles for the Sabres. Each team divided among its goals equally among the three periods, and each finished with 31 shots.
It's interesting that Andreychuk would score the tying goal while playing on a spontaneously-created, go-for-broke line with Hawerchuk and Rick Vaive. Andreychuk spent most of the game playing with Christian Ruuttu and Dave Snuggerud. Or, more accurately, Andreychuk spent most of the game watching Ruuttu and Snuggerud play.
After calling three straight first-period penalties against the Red Wings, referee Ron Hoggarth cited Buffalo for the next five infractions. Since Ruuttu and Snuggerud form half of the Sabres' league-leading penalty-killing team, Andreychuk was left to converse with back-up goaltender Darcy Wakaluk on the far side of the bench.
"It's tough when there's a lot of penalties," Andreychuk admitted. "I've got to stay mentally into the game. I think that's the key. When I get my chance I've got to be ready to go."
A line of Ruuttu, Snuggerud and Andreychuk -- one of coach Rick Dudley's latest creations -- has its merits.
"Putting me on that line definitely creates another offensive line, so to speak," Andreychuk said. "If we're playing against a Steve Yzerman, who's pretty offensively minded, we can get some chances in their zone and hopefully I can get a few chances to score."
But the line also has it demerits, as witnessed by Andreychuk's diminished playing time in a who-wants-it? game.
Sarcasm spewed from Dudley as he addressed the bug in the soup.
"Customarily, we don't like to change lines at all, really," Dudley deadpanned. "But maybe Andreychuk, after they've killed penalties for awhile, might have to play with somebody else."