The Buffalo Sabres finally made the Winnipeg Jets pay the ultimate price for their parade to the penalty box.
Thomas Vanek's power-play goal with 24.5 seconds left in overtime gave the Sabres a 6-5 victory at the First Niagara Center on Tuesday night, capping a game that saw the Sabres overcome four deficits to win for the third consecutive game.
Vanek's tip-in of a shot by Jason Pominville was the Sabres' fourth power-play goal of the night -- on their 12th advantage. It came with Blake Wheeler in the penalty box for hooking. The Sabres worked the puck around to Pominville in the left circle, where he ripped a shot that Vanek tipped past goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
"We need to keep the game 5-on-5," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "You can't give the other team 12 penalties and expect to get two points."
They nearly did -- Winnipeg led 2-0, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 before Derek Roy scored a power-play goal with 6:08 left in regulation to force OT and Vanek won it.
"I like the fight the team put up. That was even more important than the fight (goaltender) Ryan (Miller) was putting up," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought the team fought hard and ended up getting him a win and I thought that was important – probably more important than anything."
The loss sent the Jets home from their seven-game road trip with a 3-2-2 record. They play 17 of their next 23 games at MTS Centre, starting Thursday against Florida.
With a shaky Miller back in net after rookie Jhonas Enroth played and won the last two games, the Sabres allowed early goals by Mark Flood and Bryan Little in a 66-second span as the Jets grabbed an early 2-0 lead.
"To be brutally honest, after those first two, I was just like, 'Yeah. OK, we're going to do this again, huh?'" said Miller, who was yanked 6:23 into his last start after surrendering three goals to Philadelphia last week. "I tried to just slowly keep myself in the game. It helped that the guys kept putting goals up. You don't plan nights like that and you certainly don't like to see too many of them, but it's good we came out on the winning side."
Nor was Miller getting much defensive help from his teammates.
"We were awful in front of him," Roy said.
But Roy scored at 9:06 and rookie Corey Tropp drove to the net and put home his own rebound 11 seconds later for his first NHL goal to get the Sabres even. Tanner Glass put the Jets back on top at 11:25 on a shot that deflected into the net off Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers, only to have the Sabres get even again when Jason Pominville beat Ondrej Pavelec (39 saves) for a shorthanded goal at 13:08.
Little got his second of the night and sixth of the season by beating Miller during a power play at 1:07 of the second, ramming home the carom of Dustin Byfuglien's shot off the end boards to give the Jets four goals on 13 shots. Vanek again pulled the Sabres even, beating Pavelec with a power-play slapper at 15:48.
The Jets took their fourth lead of the night just 48 seconds into the third period when Byfuglien beat Miller for his second of the season, picking the top corner after being allowed to come in unimpeded. Roy's 5-on-3 goal on a one-timer off a pass from Pominville got the game to overtime.
"We would have liked to get two points here and it was within our grasp," Noel said. "I think we shot ourselves in the foot because we were in the box most of the time."
Miller was glad to get the win on a night when his team wasn't at its best defensively.
"We're going to have to learn some lessons from this one and personally I just need to take away where I can be better and where I can make a difference," he said. "There are some situations out there where I need to start to get a little more in sync with my guys."
Before the game, former Buffalo and Winnipeg Jets forward Dale Hawerchuk was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame. Hawerchuk had 110 goals and 385 points in five seasons with the Sabres in the 1990s, and had 379 goals and 929 points in nine seasons with the original Jets.
Material from team media was used in this report.