Mair scored with 2:03 remaining, and 68 seconds after teammate
Dmitri Kalinin tied the game, as the suddenly resurgent Sabres
rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday
"It feels good. It's fun again to come to the rink,'' Mair
said. "They're baby steps but they're going in the right
direction. We just have to build off of that.''
Buffalo did lose left wing Jochen Hecht to a serious injury when
he was hit in the right side of the face by teammate Brian
Campbell's point shot seven minutes into the third period.
Hecht, who was falling while Campbell was winding up for the
shot, lost part of his right ear and also required stitches to
close a cut.
Coach Lindy Ruff didn't have a full update on Hecht, who was
still receiving treatment after the game.
Buffalo won its third straight following a 1-12-3-1 stretch. The
Sabres didn't give up after squandering two leads or after they
fell behind on Jaromir Jagr's goal that put the Capitals ahead 3-2
three minutes into the third period.
"It's a big difference,'' Mair said, referring to the team's
new confidence. "Before, it felt like everyone was deflated on the
bench. But there was no quit on the bench tonight. We knew that we
were on them, and if we dogged them hard enough, maybe they would
Miroslav Satan, with his fourth goal and seventh point in four
games, and Ales Kotalik also scored for the Sabres, who outshot the
Capitals 44-25. Buffalo held an 18-4 advantage after Jagr gave
Washington the lead.
"It's like we are afraid to win hockey games, like we've never
had the lead before,'' Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I
shouldn't say that we'll never learn, but I'm just frustrated and
wonder when we'll learn.''
And it was no excuse that the Capitals were playing their second
game in consecutive nights after a 7-6 overtime win over Atlanta.
The Sabres, coming off Friday's 4-1 road win over the New York
Rangers, played their third game in four nights.
Taylor Pyatt set up the game-winner, feeding a pass to Mair, who
was open in the right circle. Mair one-timed a shot that trickled
through Sebastien Charpentier's legs.
Kalinin scored in similar fashion, one-timing Chris Gratton's
pass into the left circle with a shot that sneaked under
Charpentier's left pad.
Charpentier got the start after being called up from the minors
earlier in the day. Starter Olaf Kolzig is day-to-day after
straining a groin muscle during warmups before Friday's game
"Our goalie gave us a chance all night. That's all you ask of
him. But we didn't help him at all,'' Bondra said. "We just kind
of sat back and stopped playing. We have to play smarter.''
Confidence has been the difference as the Sabres have won three
straight for the first time last March.
"Confidence means we have the ability to do something,'' Ruff
said. "We knew we could do it and we've done it in previous games.
All we talked about was getting one shot and finding the hole.''
Capitals C Michael Nylander, who had an assist on Jagr's
goal, extended his points streak to 10 games, a stretch in which
he's had seven goals and 24 points. ... The Capitals, who next play
at Anaheim on Wednesday, opened a five-game road swing in which
they'll play four games in six nights, ending at Colorado on Dec.
16. ... The Capitals have had 17 of their 28 games decided by one
goal, nine of them losses.