Buffalo 4, Colorado 3 (ot)

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BUFFALO, NEW YORK (TICKER) —The Buffalo Sabres revel in their role as spoilers.

Jochen Hecht scored his second goal of the game with 45 seconds left in overtime as the tenacious Sabres snapped a two-game skid with a 4-3 triumph over the playoff-bound Colorado Avalanche.

After defenseman Brian Campbell stripped Alex Tanguay to break up a 2-on-1 by the Avalanche, Miroslav Satan’s pass off the boards sprung Hecht, who slipped around goaltender David Aebischer and jammed in the puck at the right goalpost.

“The shot didn’t work on the breakaway before (in overtime),” Hecht said. “So I just tried to make a move and I scored.”

“I thought he was going to deke,” Aebischer said. “Then I thought he was going to go to the other side. He got me there a little bit.”

The Sabres may have lost their chance for a postseason berth a long time ago, but they have retained their fortitude down the stretch.

Buffalo defeated the desperate New York Rangers on February 15, then knocked off the first-place Dallas Stars 13 days later.

During a 12-day span earlier this month, the Sabres topped Toronto and Philadelphia. That despite trading away Vaclav Varada, Rob Ray, captain Stu Barnes and Chris Gratton.

“We don’t want to be an easy target for anybody,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “We want teams that have to play us (to know) Lindy Ruff said. “We want teams that have to play us (to know) that we’re going to give it everything we have. It’s not going to be an easy two points on any given night.”

Daniel Briere tallied with 7:19 to go in the third period to force overtime and Martin Biron made 33 saves, stacking his pads to rob Tanguay 67 seconds into the extra session.

“You try to make a save or get yourself in a situation where you can make a difference at the end of the game,” Biron said. “(Defenseman Alexei) Zhitnik and Campbell did a slide on the 2-on-1s, gave us the chance to get back up ice and get that goal.”

Briere scored his third goal since being acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline and 20th of the season as the Sabres won for just the second time in the last six games (2-3-0-1).

“For being a team way down in the standings, I think Buffalo’s got a good team,” Avalanche center Peter Forsberg said. “They worked hard. I think we came out a little flat, kept them in the game. If we go out a little harder, we would have done better.”

Forsberg scored twice and Milan Hejduk recorded his 43rd goal, but the Avalanche dropped their third straight on the road. They moved into fourth place in the Western Conference but trail first-place Vancouver by five points in the Northwest Division.

“Every team, regardless of the playoffs or not, still have a reason to play,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “Obviously, they came out and played real hard, and we didn’t come out of the gate ready from the start.”

Hecht registered his first multi-goal game of the season. He lost part of his right ear on December 7 and later was diagnosed with a concussion after being hit by Campbell’s slap shot in a home loss to Washington. Hecht was sidelined for 20 games.

“It says a lot that we played hard,” Hecht said. “We go into the game to win the game. We’re trying to spoil several of the better teams, make it tough for them. It gives us a lot of confidence for next year.”

“I think he wants to finish off strong,” Ruff said. “We looked at it as Jochen would … get us 20 goals. I think if he would have stayed healthy, he would have got us 20 goals. For his own personal game, he wants to close out in good fashion.”

Maxim Afinogenov also scored for Buffalo and Campbell and fellow defenseman James Patrick each had two assists.

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Goalie Team Shot Save
David Aebischer Wpg 35 31