Ten Defining Moments Of Jason Pominville’s Time In Buffalo Sabres Uniform
Jason Pominville's move to Minnesota on the afternoon of the NHL trade deadline signaled a new beginning for the Buffalo Sabres. Actually, the re-build was already in motion when head coach Lindy Ruff, after almost 15 years of service behind the bench, was discharged by the Sabres in February.
In rapid succession, the Sabres relinquished their coach and captain; veteran Steve Ott voiced his displeasure at seeing the latter become traded, pointing out that it requires many years to mold such a multipurpose player.
Like many before him, Pominville went through a procedure to join the Buffalo Sabres. He was drafted and carefully groomed in the American Hockey League before being considered for a call-up into the NHL. Such a process highlights how much of the organization is assimilated, as the Sabres do not simply rush the development of their prospects.
Pominville asserted himself well as a rookie, but it required more than four years of patience for him to get that opportunity and he was still frequently demoted to the Rochester Americans during the 2006 season. It would not be much longer, however, until he was a permanent member of the Sabres, bringing his numerous intangibles with him.
Even in some of the more painful years for the club, Pominville managed to stand out as a positive influence and kept on competing to the best of his ability. For that and much more, Buffalo’s loyal fans can be thankful.
As the 30-year-old is in the midst Minnesota's first round playoff clash with Chicago, we observe the ten finest highlights from his days in Buffalo.
10) November 27, 2005
Visiting an exhausted Washington Capitals side - they played the previous night and were forced to go through 15 rounds in a shoot-out -, Buffalo struck for three goals, one of which was the first of Pominville's career. On a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play, the right winger had the simple task of guiding the puck into the net.
9) January 31, 2006
Pominville's two-way game was one his defining traits, as he'd commit himself defensively in addition to showing his offensive capabilities. Shorthanded, Jochen Hecht was stopped on a partial breakaway and believing that the threat had passed, Ilya Kovalchuk casually collected the rebound. Before he could rush up the ice and set up Atlanta's power play, Pominville quickly intercepted him and shot the puck into the gaping net. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen was unamused.
8) April 24, 2006
Buffalo and Philadelphia played a tightly contested match to open their first round series. Double overtime was what it took to finally conclude the game and another close contest was expected, but the Sabres flipped the script. Buffalo scored early and often in their game two rout of the Philadelphia Flyers, as Pominville and J.P. Dumont both registered a hat-trick, combining for six of the eight goals. After a fine rookie season, he is turning out to be a commodity in his club's postseason hopes as well.
7) April 8, 2007
Developing tremendous chemistry with Daniel Briere and Hecht, Pominville ends his second season on a high note, notching his 34th goal of the campaign - still his career high in that category. In a season that saw Buffalo claim the President's Trophy and provide an offensive clinic almost on a normal basis, their second-year forward is one of four players to eclipse 30 goals. While many sophomores falter in their follow-up season, Pominville flourishes in his and it's a sign of things to come.
6) April 5, 2008
Buffalo, losing inspirational leaders Chris Drury and Daniel Briere in the off-season, is unable to secure a playoff berth. Their final game proves to be meaningless because they are already eliminated from contention, but Pominville tallies an assist, giving him 80 points. Many failed to shoulder more of the responsibility in the absence of Briere and Drury, but Pominville certainly was not one of them.
5) January 15, 2009
Over the years, Pominville became a reliable shoot-out choice for his squad. His approach was straightforward: he picked his spot and shot for it, showing off his deceptive release. On this occasion, Buffalo overcame a two-goal deficit and forced the breakaway competition, providing him with the chance to win it. He didn't disappoint.
4) April 2, 2013
In what turns out to be Pominville's final game in a Sabres uniform, he dishes out two assists and Buffalo overcomes the offensive dynamo that is the Pittsburgh Penguins, snapping their 15-game winning streak. The next day, he is shipped off to Minnesota with a fourth round draft pick in exchange for Matt Hackett, Johan Larsson and two high-end draft selections. A new chapter begins for Pominville and his former club.
3) October 6, 2011
Despite not being the most talkative or opinionated player in the dressing room, it is decided that Pominville will be Buffalo's new captain. His experience and dependability are attributes befitting of a leader, as he is one of the most proven and consistent forwards within the organization.
2) March 27, 2012
With both Washington and Buffalo pursuing a place in the playoffs, this matchup had massive implications. The Capitals got on the board to bring the game within reach, but Pominville answered shortly afterwards by out-muscling Alexander Ovechkin and burying a shorthanded marker on the ensuing break-out. It was a backbreaking goal which Washington could not recover from.
1) May 13, 2006
Ottawa picked the Sabres apart in the majority of their regular season showdowns, but the tables had turned in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Trailing 3-1 in the series, the Senators were presented with an overtime power play which could provide them the crucial goal to force game six; but Pominville had other plans. Gaining speed, he breezed by Daniel Alfredsson, who was playing the point in the 4-on-3 situation, and cut across the crease to beat Ray Emery in a heroic effort. For the first time in NHL history, a series was wrapped up with a shorthanded overtime winner and a rookie did the honors.
“I think we were the only people who thought we could win the series,” Pominville said. “We proved we are a good team and hopefully we can keep going.”