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Toronto
Maple Leafs
34-35-13
Buffalo
Sabres
41-32-9

16 SOG
32 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
TOR
BUF
game recap

Sabres 5, Maple Leafs 0

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:23 AM

Associated Press

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Sabres 5, Maple Leafs 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 0, Buffalo Sabres 5

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Thomas Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres certainly didn't look travel weary on Wednesday.

A day following a cross-country flight from Anaheim, Vanek scored a natural hat trick and Ryan Miller stopped all 16 shots in leading the Sabres to a 5-0 win against the overwhelmed and lifeless Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We knew we were maybe physically not in top shape, but I thought we skated well," said Vanek, who upped his team-leading total to 32 goals. "We played smart and got the early lead, and that really helped us."

Vanek, who also added an assist, registered the fifth three-goal game of his career and first this season. It was also Vanek's fourth consecutive natural hat trick, matching an NHL record set by Cy Denneny between 1923 and 1924 with the old Ottawa Senators.

Home sweet home, said Miller, noting the Sabres played their first game in Buffalo in nearly three weeks following a six-game road trip that spanned the NHL All-Star break.

"We had good energy tonight, a lot of guys are happy to be home," said Miller, who was relatively untested in registering his second straight shutout. "The boys looked really sharp. They should be proud of managing the game for 60 minutes."

Miller, who stopped 28 shots in a 2-0 win at Phoenix on Saturday, hasn't allowed a goal in a span of 126:52, dating to a 5-2 loss at Calgary on Jan. 28.

Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly each had a goal and an assist.

The Maple Leafs were outshot 32-16 while showing no spark. They still appeared stunned after squandering a two-goal third-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to Florida on Tuesday.

"We let one slip away last night," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. "We had a chance to redeem ourselves. We were flat all game."

Stajan was the only Toronto player to get the puck behind Miller, scoring midway through the third period. But, as the Leafs' fortunes went, the goal was disallowed when Stajan was issued an interference penalty for knocking down Ales Kotalik while breaking to the net.

"This wasn't one of our better efforts to say the least," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "We weren't ready tonight."

The Sabres, by comparison, were on top of their game after going 3-3 on their road trip.

Stafford's goal, which gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead 13 minutes into the first period, was the turning point, lifting his teammates and demoralizing the Maple Leafs.

Accepting Clarke MacArthur's drop pass inside the Toronto blue line, Stafford faked driving inside and neatly backhanded the puck through his legs without breaking stride to fool defenseman Mike Van Ryn.

Stafford then drove to the net and snapped a shot inside the far right post. While Stafford celebrated, Van Ryn smashed his stick across the crossbar in frustration.

"I got lucky. If I screwed that up, I probably would've heard about it from Lindy," Stafford said, referring to coach Lindy Ruff.

With a smile, Ruff said he probably would've let Stafford hear about it.

"It was a timely goal and a great goal, a heck of a move," Ruff said. "Any time you pull off a move like that, those are special moves and it doesn't happen very often."

Vanek sealed the win by scoring the final three goals, two on the power play.

Justin Pogge started after being recalled from the minors. The 2004 third-round draft pick is considered Toronto's goalie of the future and made his third NHL appearance this season. Pogge, who gave up six goals on 21 shots against Minnesota last week, was not to blame for this one.

He received little support from a flat-footed defense and a disinterested offense that managed nine shots through two periods.

"I'm not enjoying it too much," Pogge said of his first taste of playing in the NHL. "We just couldn't get anything going."

Notes: Sabres RW Jason Pominville had two assists, giving him 12 assists - but no goals - in his past 14 games. ... Maple Leafs forward Jeremy Williams was activated off IR and played against Buffalo after missing 14 games with a shoulder injury. ... Sabres D Teppo Numminen returned after missing six games with a broken jaw.

scoring summary
1st Period
02:23
BUF
Tim Connolly (10) Tip-in - ASST: Craig Rivet (11), Thomas Vanek (20)
1 - 0 BUF
12:52
BUF
Drew Stafford (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Clarke MacArthur (12), Teppo Numminen (13)
2 - 0 BUF
2nd Period
02:37
BUF
PPG - Thomas Vanek (30) Backhand shot - ASST: Tim Connolly (8), Jason Pominville (28)
3 - 0 BUF
3rd Period
05:36
BUF
Thomas Vanek (31) Slapshot - ASST: Drew Stafford (19)
4 - 0 BUF
09:13
BUF
PPG - Thomas Vanek (32) Tip-in - ASST: Jason Pominville (29), Ales Kotalik (16)
5 - 0 BUF
penalty summary
1st Period
07:57
TOR
Luke Schenn  Hooking against  Jason Pominville
11:04
TOR
John Mitchell  Roughing against  Chris Butler
11:04
BUF
Chris Butler  Hooking against  John Mitchell
13:18
BUF
Craig Rivet  Hooking against  Anton Stralman
14:54
TOR
Dominic Moore  Holding against  Mike Weber
18:50
TOR
Alexei Ponikarovsky  Interference against  Drew Stafford
2nd Period
01:31
TOR
Nikolai Kulemin  Hooking against  Patrick Kaleta
03:21
TOR
Brad May  Charging against  Teppo Numminen
08:47
TOR
Pavel Kubina  Closing hand on puck
11:25
BUF
Daniel Paille  Holding against  Anton Stralman
15:24
TOR
Pavel Kubina  Cross checking against  Paul Gaustad
3rd Period
08:31
TOR
Ian White  Hi-sticking against  Patrick Kaleta
09:03
TOR
Matt Stajan  Interference against  Ales Kotalik
12:13
TOR
Matt Stajan  Interference against  Patrick Kaleta
12:13
BUF
Patrick Kaleta  Diving against  Matt Stajan
15:14
BUF
Mike Weber  Hooking against  Nik Antropov
goalie stats
Justin Pogge
SA: 32TOI: 59:52
Saves: 27EV: 18 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 9 - 11
SV%: .844SH: 0 - 0
Ryan Miller
SA: 16TOI: 60:00
Saves: 16EV: 14 - 14
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 2
SV%: 1.000SH: 0 - 0