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Sabres Surprise Pens 4-3


The waiting finally ended for Dixon Ward and the Buffalo Sabres.

Ward's first goal in 16 games couldn't have come at a better time as the Sabres rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime Sunday for their first win in four games.

Ward's decisive goal - against Jean-Sebastien Aubin at 2:27 - was his 17th this season. Assists went to Vaclav Varada and Michael Peca.

Ward's fourth career overtime goal originated with Peca' burst of speed.

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  • "It was a great play by Mike," Ward said, describing Peca's rush through the neutral zone that drew the defense to the boards.

    Varada grabbed the puck and chipped it to Ward in the corner, and Ward held the puck while he waited for Peca to go to the net.

    "I waited and waited and waited for something to open up," Ward said. "Finally I couldn't wait any longer, and decided I better do something myself."

    Ward stuffed the puck between Aubin's legs.

    "I don't know what happened," Aubin said. "I tried to poke-check him just a little bit, and I shouldn't have done that. It's not a good move for me."

    Buffalo - which scored twice despite just five shots in the third period - tied the game with eight minutes left when Geoff Sanderson stole the puck in the Pittsburgh end and scored his 11th goal.

    "It's one of the sweetest wins of the season," said Sabres goatender Dominik Hasek, who made 31 saves Saturday for a 1-1 tie with the Penguins after a specialist in Germany diagnosed him with a hernia.

    "For me it was a good feeling because I haven't won in this building for a long time," said Hasek, whose last home win was Feb. 15. Hasek missed 12 straight games after injuring his groin in a loss to Toronto on Feb. 17. He has played in four of the last five.

    A lack of pain also was a good feeling for Hasek. "I didn't feel any discomfort," Hasek said. "I felt the same as I did yesterday before the game. It's good news."

    Jaromir Jagr had two power-play goals and an assist as the Penguins went ahead 3-1 after two periods. Only Ward and Sanderson scored with the teams at even strength.

    Buffalo's Rob Ray drives a point home against Matthew Barnaby.>
    Buffalo's Rob Ray drives a point home against Matthew Barnaby. (AP)

    "You don't know how to play when you have a two-goal lead, whether to play good defense or play the same way," Jagr said. "Nobody's figured that out for us. This time we backed up too much and it cost us the game."

    The Penguins, who lost in overtime for the first time this season to fall to 6-1-13 in extra-session games, took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Jagr beat Hasek for his 35th goal. Buffalo was two men short with Peca and Domenic Pittis in the penalty box.

    Buffalo's Miroslav Satan got his 35th goal at 8:54 of the second period, but Jan Hrdina put Pittsburgh up 2-1 less than two minutes later. Jagr's second goal of the game, with five minutes left in the period, made it 3-1.

    Alexei Zhitnik brought the Sabres within goal by scoring at 8:20 of the final period.

    The Sabres took five penalties in the first period, two in the second and none in the third. "We want to play aggressive but we have to play a smart aggression and not take penalties like that because it almost hurt us tonight," Peca said.

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