The goals were some of the prettiest the fans have seen in a while. The result was the most beautiful the Buffalo Sabres have seen in even longer.
The Sabres scored four picturesque goals Wednesday night to end their six-game winless streak, beating the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in HSBC Arena. The Sabres twice snapped third-period ties with power-play goals, their staple that had abandoned them during their skid.
"I don't have enough time to tell you right now [how good this feels]," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It's a great relief."
J.P. Dumont scored the winner with 9:20 remaining, just 52 seconds after the Bruins had tied it, 3-3. Chris Drury fought to keep the puck in the Boston zone and found Daniel Briere at the left circle. Briere threaded a cross-crease pass under Mark Stuart to Dumont, who buried it for his second of the game.
"That's the kind of game we needed," Dumont said. "First two periods on the power play we had some chances, but we changed things after that and it worked pretty good."
There was bad news however. Defenseman Teppo Numminen suffered a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament and will miss 10 to 14 days.
"I just fell," Numminen said with a shrug.
Drury made it 3-2 just 1:16 into the final period. The teams entered the third with the Sabres on the power play as David Tanabe was penalized with 1.1 seconds left in the second. Center Tim Connolly, who had missed the previous seven games with a left medial collateral ligament injury, embarrassed Wayne Primeau to set up the goal.
Connolly faked a shot and went around the former Sabre, then found Drury at the left post. Drury's team-high 25th goal reawakened the 16,261 in attendance. Drury started his career with five 20-plus goal seasons, but Wednesday's 25th was a personal best.
Marty Reasoner beat Maxim Afinogenov to the Sabres' net on a four-on-four to make it 3-3, but Dumont struck just after the four-on-four ended.
"It was definitely a big relief to get that lead again, to keep it and go all the way," Briere said.
The Sabres will try to start a winning streak tonight, playing in New Jersey against the Devils. It's the first of three straight road games for the Sabres. They will spend the weekend in Toronto with games against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and Monday in the Air Canada Centre.
"If we play like we did today we'll do good," said Afinogenov.
The Bruins and Tanabe opened the scoring five minutes into the game, taking advantage of Henrik Tallinder twice. The Sabres defenseman turned the puck over at his blue line, then was beaten for it along the boards by Tanabe. Tanabe skated to the net alone, and when goalie Ryan Miller went down Tanabe put a shot over his right shoulder.
The Sabres tied it, 1-1, to officially welcome back Connolly. He carried the puck to lead Dumont on a two-on-two rush and waited until Dumont reached the net before passing. Dumont directed it by goalie Tim Thomas with 1:14 to play in the opening period.
Maxim Afinogenov gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead less than two minutes into the second period. He and linemates Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek, fresh off Tuesday's sitdown with assistant coach Scott Arniel, left the fans and Bruins bewildered.
Roy skated into the left side of the Bruins' zone and fed to the middle for Vanek, who gave it right back. Roy then spotted Afinogenov on the right side, and the Russian's shot hit Thomas before going through his legs.
"We had a couple of great shifts there," Roy said. "I thought we played extremely well tonight, skating and passing the puck. I thought we could have had a couple of more."
Boston tied the score at 2-2 with a goal by Stuart with 6:52 to play. The Bruins nearly tied it earlier in the period, ringing the post with shots twice in eight seconds.