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Buffalo Sabres Finally Show Mental Toughness in Back-to-back Comeback Wins

December 20th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

For perhaps the first time in the 2012-13 season, the Buffalo Sabres' locker room was a happy place Thursday following Buffalo's 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

'Marcus Foligno!' photo (c) 2012, Dave Meleca - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Players were smiling and jovial in the moments following the game, which continued the team's best stretch of the season to date. Buffalo has gone 3-1-1 now in its last five games – an admirable mark for a team with nine wins over its first 35 games – and has scored four goals two straight times. It's also won two straight regulation games now for the first time all season.

"It's fun. It's more fun when you come to the rink," said Brian Flynn, who scored a short-handed goal Thursday.

"I think we've become a team that's fun to watch," said Tyler Myers, who scored a goal of his own Thursday and finished with a plus in the plus-minus column for one of the few times all season. "You can tell it's starting to sway in a different direction."

To be clear, the Sabres are still in draft mode for this season. Seven games from the season's halfway point, they are 18 points out of a playoff spot. They're still the worst team in the NHL by four points.

But interim coach Ted Nolan may finally have something brewing here – not just because the team has won a few games, but how it's won. Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo went down 2-0 in the second period before scoring four straight goals. Then Thursday, Boston scored two second-period goals 74 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. But the Sabres scored three times in the final 23 minutes of the game to win despite being outshot 36-23.

"It's an up-and-down game," Myers said. "The way we responded is exactly the way we want to respond … I think it gets back to, shift after shift, playing the same way."

Buffalo got a bit of luck to tie the game. A rebound bounced right in front of Marcus Flogino, who was alone at the goal crease with no one in front of him. His tap-in tied the game, but Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers scored the types of goals that made this team a surprise division winner a few years ago. Stafford rushed from center ice behind the net before tucking in a wraparound, while Myers confidently strode in from the blue line and rifled a loose puck in.

"It was really nice to see some guys get rewarded for their work," Nolan said.

Stafford – who scored for only the third time all season Thursday – said focusing on that work is sometimes easier said than done amid long scoring droughts:

"You have to do your best to keep your head clear of those things … we have to just stick with it. We can't get too high. We can't get too low like earlier in the year."

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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