Playoff overtime winning goals are some of the most exciting and heartbreaking times for hockey fans. I still remember some overtime goals like they were yesterday. I remember where I was, who I was with and the reaction. For Buffalo Sabres fans there’s been a lot of heartbreak through the organization’s history, but there’s also been a lot of great moments.
The Sabres have not made the playoffs since the 2010-11 season, but the team appears close to being a playoff club again. So, in honor of the playoffs going on right now and some great overtime finishes; here are some of the best Sabres’ overtime winners in their history.
5. Derek Plante- 1997 Game 7 vs Ottawa Senators, ECQF
The 2nd seed Buffalo Sabres were pushed to Game 7 by the 7th seed Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 1997 playoffs. The Sabres were expected to be able to get by the Senators without much difficulty. However, Ottawa gave the Sabres all they could handle and were up 3-2 in the series heading back to Ottawa for Game 6. Buffalo would win Game 6 by a score of 3-0 and head back home for Game 7 with momentum. The two entered overtime in Game 7 tied at two goals apiece.
Buffalo forward Derek Plante would pick off a pass in the neutral zone and wound up as he entered the Senators zone…
The shot goes in off the tip of the glove of Ottawa goaltender Ron Tugnutt and sends (then) Marine Midland Arena into a frenzy. This goal remains as the only Game 7 overtime goal in franchise history.
4. Brad May- 1993 Game 4 vs Boston Bruins, Adams Division Semi-Finals
The infamous “May Day” goal. Buffalo was the underdog against the Adams Division Champions, the Boston Bruins. The Sabres lost in the division semi-finals to Boston three of the previous five seasons. After taking a surprising and commanding 3-0 series lead, Buffalo looked to close out the Bruins at home in Game 4.
Unlikely hero Brad May picks up the puck and makes a great move around the great Ray Bourque leaving only the goaltender to beat…
Thanks to the great Rick Jeanneret “May Day” was born.
3. Daniel Briere- 2006 Game 1 vs Philadelphia Flyers, ECQF
This was the game that started the magical run for the 2005-06 Sabres. The young, speedy team took the league by surprise in the first season after the lockout. Game 1 against the rival Philadelphia Flyers was a goaltending battle between Ryan Miller and Robert Esche. The game would need two overtime’s to be decided and a player who became known for his playoff performances, Daniel Briere, began the journey for his club.
The Sabres would go on to defeat the Flyers in six games and put the Flyers down a path to an eventual rebuild. Buffalo’s excitement was only beginning after the Game 1 victory.
2. Jason Pominville- 2006 Game 5 vs Ottawa Senators, ECSF
This is perhaps one of the most memorable goals in Sabres playoff history. The 2006 series against Ottawa was full of drama and excitement. The Senators were the favorites and handled the Sabres during the regular season. After Buffalo took Game 1 with a 7-6 overtime victory, after tying the game late in regulation, they took over the series.
After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, Ottawa won Game 4 to avoid elimination. In another close game, Game 5 went to overtime and Jason Pominville came down on a shorthanded opportunity…
Another great moment from the 2006 playoff run for the Sabres. We all know how things ended in the Eastern Conference Finals again Carolina, but I still believe that if not for all the injuries on the blue line the Sabres would have won their first Stanley Cup in 2006.
1. Chris Drury/Max Afinogenov- 2007 Game 5 vs New York Rangers, ECSF
This one still gives me goose bumps when I watch the video. Perhaps it was because I was in the building and it’s one of my greatest hockey memories to date. Now, I always saw this one as a pair of goals.
The Rangers were on the verge of taking a 3-2 series lead and heading back to Madison Square Garden. This was supposed to be the Sabres’ year, but doubt started to creep into the heads of fans as the game ticked down to the final seconds. The Rangers had players stuck on the ice after an icing call and an offensive zone face-off was upcoming for the Sabres. After a scramble in front of the net the puck would find the stick of clutch star center Chris Drury…
Only five minutes into overtime on the power play, Max Afinogenov, ripped a shot from the point to beat Lundqvist five-hole for the winner. Afinogenov was a healthy scratch in Game 4 and became a surprise hero in Game 5. I pair these together because it all happened within about five minutes of game action. Being in the building, even though you had the intermission, it seemed to happen so fast.
I miss playoff hockey in Buffalo not only for myself but for the city as well. I look forward to seeing the playoff memories that will be created by players like Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel in the near future.