The Buffalo Sabres refuse to lose. Doesn't matter if they're at home or on the road -- maybe especially on the road -- they always seem to find a way to come out on top.
Nothing flashy, mind you. Just blue-collar hockey.
The Sabres came from behind to win their seventh consecutive road game Sunday night, and goalie Martin Biron broke a 29-year-old club record for winning consecutive starts in a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in the Xcel Energy Center.
Mike Grier redirected a goal with 3:32 to play, Chris Drury pulled a similar trick late in the second and Thomas Vanek scored the other goal in a homecoming game for the former University of Minnesota star. Biron made 34 saves to become the first NHL goalie to win 10 straight starts since Dominik Hasek did it for the Detroit Red Wings in their Stanley Cup season of 2001-02.
The molten Sabres are 11-1 with a shootout loss in the past month.
"They just keep continuing to amaze me, this team as a whole," Sabres defenseman Jay McKee said. "They keep finding ways even after being down. It's
something that in the past we haven't been able to do, to continue to come back. It looked like we were going to overtime, and we pulled it off."
Grier scored the winner by redirecting a Drury shot from the right circle to beat old friend Dwayne Roloson.
"I knew Chris was going to turn and shoot it," Grier said. "I was just fortunate to get it past Rolie."
Vanek's sixth goal 8:03 into the game was the product of a line that wouldn't be denied -- a concerted, relentless effort with linemates Derek Roy and Maxim Afinogenov.
Vanek, between the hash marks, managed to get off a shot from his knees. Afinogenov got hauled down but followed with a backhander that Roloson stopped with his pad. Roy, with a delayed penalty signaled, collected the rebound down low and skated around the perimeter of the right circle before feeding Vanek for the goal in his NHL regular-season Twin Cities debut.
"It hasn't been a fluke," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of the winning ways. "They've put the work in."
Minnesota knotted the score on Mikko Koivu's power-play goal with 8:43 left in the first period and took the lead on a Brian Rolston marker with 8:13 remaining in the second period.
Buffalo tied the game just before the second intermission. McKee flipped the puck into a mosh pit atop the crease, and Drury managed to alter the trajectory and send it behind Roloson with 39 seconds left in the period.
Biron kept the game tied for the 18,568 in attendance with a few clutch saves in the third.
"For the first seven, eight minutes (of the third period), they were taking the game to us," Ruff said. "It wasn't looking good."
Biron somehow kept a power-play follow-up shot from crossing the line while lying flat on his stomach and kicking his right leg toward the post to foil Randy Robitaille, who had raised his stick in premature celebration.
"We gave up better chances than they did, but Marty made big saves, and that was the difference," Ruff said.
Gerry Desjardins won nine straight starts for Buffalo in 1976-77.
"It's something to build on. You don't want to stop at 10," Biron said. "You feel that things are working pretty good and you want to keep going in that same direction."
Co-captain Daniel Briere returned after an eight-game absence from an abdominal strain and skated on the left wing with center Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik. Briere had four shots in 18:19 of ice time.
The Sabres have won by one goal in five of their past six victories.
"It doesn't get old," Ruff said, "but it sure is stressful."