Watching Game 1 - Sabres vs. Senators

While the Sabres and MSG show classic games this week, there’s another game to throw into the ring

Joe DiBiase
March 23, 2020 - 4:08 pm
Sabres-Senators 2006

Photo: Dave Sandford - Stringer

The Buffalo Sabres and MSG will be showing a series of classic Sabres games this week as the team sits home, waiting to possibly play again this season if things settle down with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before the Sabres classic games get rolling, I wanted to input one of my own. 

On Monday afternoon, I sat down to re-watch, what I think is, the craziest Sabres game I've every witnessed - the 7-6 overtime winner over the Ottawa Senators in 2006.

Throughout the game I took notes of what I was watching, which you can read below.

The game is on OLN, so the broadcast quality isn't the best. Speaking of quality, it's not HD or anything, but it's just good enough to enjoy the game for what it is.

 

First Period:

  • 1-0 Sabres

The line of Chris Drury, Derek Roy, and Mike Grier come out firing early. Roy flies in on a 2-on-1, gets the pass through for an easy tap-in by Grier to take the early lead. The Sabres obliterated the Philadelphia Flyers with their speed in Round 1. If this is a sign of things to come, Ottawa is in trouble.

- The Senators are clearly trying to intimidate the Sabres. Wade Redden cheap-shotted Paul Gaustad with a cross check to the teeth, and Zdeno Chara took a dirty, late run at Daniel Briere well after the whistle. Good on Max Afinogenov for sticking up for his captain.


 
  • 1-1 Tie

Jason Spezza ties it quickly after the Sabres take the lead. Tim Connolly and Thomas Vanek both stared at the puck and didn't cover Spezza up.
 

  • 2-1 Senators

Ottawa adds another one seconds later. This time, Henrik Tallinder loses his man. The Sabres took the crowd out of the game right away, and the Senators brought them back. Brian Smolinski and his stupid smile gets the goal.

- Ryan Miller is having a tough time. Almost every puck thrown his way he's struggling with, either not knowing where it is or throwing rebounds into dangerous areas. To be fair, the defensemen in front of him aren't helping him out much.
 

  • 2-2 Tie

Teppo Numminen with a rocket from the point ties the game. It's been very back-and-forth. Both rookie goalies look anxious. Numminen beats Ray Emery on this one.

- Chara and Anton Volchenkov just cannot handle the speed of Briere and Afinogenov. This time on the forecheck, they fumble the puck away because of the constant pressure.

 

Second Period:

  • 3-2 Senators

Dmitri Kalinin makes his first real appearance. He gets caught cheating, and off Martin Havlat does on a breakaway. Havlat is so fast, and he buries it.

- Briere is the Sabres' best zone entry man on the power play, but he isn't getting much of a chance to do it. Brian Campbell and Connolly are taking it the most.
 

  • 3-3 Tie

Connolly scores an incredible goal. His hands are so smooth as he undresses Wade Redden and beats Emery short-side, shorthanded. He and Roy have been the Sabres' best players thus far. 
 

  • 4-3 Senators

Penalties are killing the Sabres. Jason Pominville takes a hooking call to put the Sabres down two men. Danny Heatley capitalizes to give the Senators the lead again.

- Afinogenov's speed is giving Ottawa fits. Mike Fisher could not stay with Afinogenov as he cut to the net and was forced to take a penalty. Afinogenov creates a power play with his speed. 

- However, Afinogenov can't stay out of the box. He takes his third minor penalty of the game to end the Sabres power play.

- The Sabres, all-in-all, haven't had a lot of shots. They're pressuring in the offensive zone but aren't getting the puck to the net. Ottawa is testing Miller much more than Buffalo is Emery.
 

  • 4-4 Tie

Tallinder joins the rush to create a 3-on-2 with Grier and Roy. Grier to Tallinder to Roy, puck in the back of the net. Roy is everywhere in this game and already has three points.

 

Third Period:

  • 5-4 Senators

A turnover by Tallinder starts everything. He and Toni Lydman get lost thereafter, Drury can't get back in time to save them, and Miller can only do so much. Fisher gets the goal for Ottawa. He's been their best player all night.

- Ales Kotalik delivers an elbow to the face of Andrej Meszaros. In today's game, he could've been tossed. In this game, no penalty.

- Emery makes a big save on Taylor Pyatt cutting to the net, but Pyatt was hooked. He and Gaustad have been physical, but not sure they've touched the puck much at all.

- Daniel Alfredsson would have had a goal if not for Briere's backcheck. Chris Kelly of the Senators hits the outside of the post shortly thereafter. Ottawa is making Miller sweat on almost every play.

- The Sabres only have 16 shots on goal. There are less than five minutes left. Also, I haven't noticed Vanek since the first period.
 

  • 5-5 Tie

The two players that have been the best Sabres on the night tie the game, shorthanded none the less. Roy creates a turnover in his own end, which results in a 2-on-1 with Connolly the other way. Connolly does such a good job at freezing Redden with his stick handling and puts it right in his wheel-house to tie the game.
 

  • 6-5 Senators

Ugh that smirk. Smolinski. All alone on the power play. Head in your hands. 


 
  • 6-6 Tie

Tim freaking Connolly! This is when the game reaches peak craziness. Ottawa controlled the puck for 30 seconds before one final rush creates Connolly's game-tying goal. Roy started it all by skating it in and chasing down a loose puck behind the net.


Overtime:

  • 7-6 Sabres

A single shot is all it took. A Drury wrister from the circle. Emery was awful on the night, and if I'm a Senators fan, I want him to stop at least four or five of the goals that got passed him.
 

This game was absolutely bonkers. The only thing it didn't have going for it is that it was on the road. Roy set the Sabres' playoff record for points in a game with five. Connolly had one of, if not, the best playoff performances by a Sabres player every. This was a battle between, what I think was, the two best teams in hockey that season.

The Sabres came out on top, so you do the math.

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