With his team behind 3-0, Stafford scored twice -- the first on a penalty shot -- and Jason Pominville capped the comeback with 9:05 remaining as the Sabres won a wild 4-3 decision against the Pittsburgh Penguins at HSBC Arena on Tuesday night.
Stafford's sixth multi-goal game snapped a 15-game drought just two days after he was a healthy scratch in a 5-3 win at St. Louis.
''It comes back to how you respond,'' said Stafford. ''It's being professional about it, not feeling sorry for yourself. It's just going back to work. I was very fortunate enough to get some breaks tonight, and it just so happened to be the night after I got sat out. I'll take it.''
Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz scored for the Penguins, who hadn't blown a three-goal lead since Jan. 8 at Nashville, when they suffered a 5-3 loss to the Predators.
The Penguins dropped to 1-3 in their past four games, and blew a chance to move into a tie with New Jersey atop the Eastern Conference standings.
After Staal and Guerin scored first-period goals, the Penguins appeared to be on the verge of a blowout victory when Kunitz took a feed from Sidney Crosby and fired a rocket from the slot past Ryan Miller just 90 seconds into the second period. Miller was replaced after the goal by backup Patrick Lalime.
''A three-goal lead and we didn't put it away. That's what happens when you let teams hang around,'' Crosby said. ''We worked pretty hard and probably deserved better.''
Stafford got the Sabres on the comeback trail when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury (20 saves) on a penalty shot at 12:46 of the second. He was awarded the free breakaway after Pens defenseman Jay McKee covered up the puck in the crease. Although Stafford fanned on the penalty shot, it fooled Fleury and managed to squeak through the latter's legs. Stafford then tied it less than two minutes later off a feed from Clarke MacArthur.
''I just kind of sweeped at it and it went in,'' Stafford said of his penalty shot.
Paul Gaustad tied the game for the Sabres 7:28 into the third period. The goal was made possible by Stafford, who managed to get around two Pittsburgh defenders before sending a pass across the crease to Gaustad, who beat Fleury for his eighth goal of the season.
Pominville put Buffalo in front when he scored a power-play goal three minutes later, completing a give-and-go with Tim Connolly. It was his 10th goal of the season.
Buffalo hadn't overcome a three-goal deficit since a 5-4 shootout win at Dallas last Jan. 15.
''He was our best player tonight, which was good,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Stafford. ''I think that's the type of player he can be.''
Material from wire services was used in this report.
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