NHL

Sabres rally late to salvage tie

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Taylor Pyatt provided a glimmer of hope for a Buffalo Sabres team searching for a lift heading into the Olympic break.

Pyatt scored with 1:50 left in regulation, rallying the Sabres to a 2-2 tie against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

The tie earned the Sabres a crucial point as they were on the verge of being swept in a home-at-home series against the Devils, who handily beat Buffalo 4-1 on Sunday.

"It would be an awful bad feeling standing here now if we didn't get a point tonight," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We'll take the point and we've got some ground to make up when we get back."

Maxim Afinogenov also scored while Miroslav Satan, playing his fourth game in five days, had two assists. The Sabres, 3-1-3 in their last seven games, moved into a tie for 11th place with Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference standings.

Jason Arnott, with his fourth goal in two games, and John Madden scored for New Jersey. The Devils extended their unbeaten streak to four games (2-0-2), and improved to 4-1-2 since Kevin Constantine replaced Larry Robinson as coach.

Pyatt's goal was his fifth of the season since being called up in mid-December, and probably his prettiest one.

Defenseman Jason Woolley set it up by breaking up the left wing, cutting past Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer, and feeding the puck into the middle.

Pyatt took the pass off his skate, kicked it to his stick and snapped a shot that squirted through goaltender Martin Brodeur's outstretched pads.

"Jason made a great play there," Pyatt said. "It's a big point for us."

It was just as big a point for the Devils, who took over sole possession of seventh place, a point up on the idle New York Rangers.

"Guys were happy going into the break," Brodeur said. "We gained some ground and got ourselves into a playoff spot for now."

Brodeur preserved the tie, as Satan had the best scoring chance in overtime. Leading a 2-on-1 break, Satan fired a 20-footer from the right circle, which Brodeur gloved.

Along with playing three games in five nights for the Sabres, Satan also represented his native Slovakia in Saturday's Olympic preliminary round game in Salt Lake City.

Although disappointed in squandering a late lead, the Devils were content in how they battled back from a 1-0 deficit.

"We got behind, fought back, got a lead and played a very good third period. We just had one breakdown near the end and it cost us," Constantine said. "But I like the way our team came on the road and competed."

Still smarting from Sunday's flat performance, Ruff's attempt to toughen up his players worked in the early going.

With their two toughest players - Rob Ray, the team's all-time penalty-minutes leader, and Eric Boulton - in the lineup, the Sabres came out battling in a first period that featured three fights and 50 penalty minutes, 27 of them going to New Jersey.

"We wanted to set the tone and not let them dictate play," Ray said. "It's what we talked about before the game, and it's what we went out and did."

Two of the fights involved Devils defenseman Colin White, who was issued a $1,000 fine by the NHL on Monday for his blindside hit on Buffalo's Vaclav Varada a day earlier.

Tagged: Sabres, Devils, Miroslav Satan, Jason Woolley, Eric Boulton, Taylor Pyatt, Jason Arnott, Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur, John Madden, Brian Rafalski

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