Derek Roy's overtime power-play goal — after a bone-headed puck over the glass penalty by Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf — gave the Buffalo Sabres a 6-5 comeback victory on Tuesday night and a tie with the Washington Capitals in points (88) for the No. 8 seed. (The Capitals own the tie-breaker.)
But Roy's heroics were only made possible by one of the oddest goals of the 2011-12 NHL season, as the Sabres were given an eternity to poke and prod the puck in goalie Ben Scrivens' crease before Jordan Leopold tied the game 5-5 late in the third:
Off the faceoff, Marcus Foligno chased the puck to the corner in the Leafs' zone. He tried to jam it in to no avail. Drew Stafford got a shot and couldn't convert. Tyler Ennis took a whack and couldn't get it through.
Then it became a rugby scrum. "I was just hoping to God we'd hear a horn that we scored," said Foligno.
Jordan Leopold hacked away at the puck with Mike Komisarek and Clarke MacArthur in the crease, Scrivens on his knees — grabbing Leopold's stick a few times — and Joey Crabb on the goal line as a last line of defense.
This sequence literally went on for six seconds with no whistle, but with referee Mike Hasenfratz positioned right on the edge of the chaos.
Finally, with 1:54 left in regulation, Leopold somehow poked the puck through and into the back of the net. Hasenfratz didn't immediately see it, and then signaled goal.
"I think that was one of the most incredible displays I've seen, in trying to find the puck wherever it was at," said Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff after the game.
"I said early in the year when we had a quick whistle [that] it all evens out. And it finally evened out."
So the Sabres rally from a 3-0 hole they dug on their home ice against the moribund Leafs and salvage their season via Roy's OT game winner. (Keep in mind the Sabres are down Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers.)
As for the game-tying goal … well, Hasenfratz was right there. He gets the benefit of the doubt, even though he clearly had no [expletive] clue where the puck was when Leopold scored.
But please: Raise your hand if you've ever witnessed an attacking team in the National Hockey League get that many whacks at the piñata before the referee blew the play dead? Anyone? Bueller?