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Sabres lose game, red-hot Vanek

By John McGourty - Staff Writer

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Sabres lose game, red-hot Vanek
Not only did the Sabres lose a game they led after two periods for the first time this season, they saw the red-hot Thomas Vanek leave early as the result of a lower-body injury.
BUFFALO -- It's still early, but two damaging things happened to the Buffalo Sabres in their 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday at HSBC Arena in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

First, Thomas Vanek, Buffalo's leading goal scorer with 28 goals this season, suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. Vanek, who had six goals in his past three games, tried several times to put weight on his leg but couldn't and went directly to the dressing room.

The Sabres had no information on the nature of his injury or if he will be able to play in Game 3, which will be Monday in Boston's TD Garden at 7 p.m.

Second, for the first time in 32 chances this season, the Sabres lost a game they led after two periods. In fact, they coughed up two leads.

"We could have had better end-zone play, getting the puck out on the first one and it ends up being a slap shot from the slot," goalie Ryan Miller said. "There was a little bit there we could clean up. It wasn't that bad a period. It's not going to be pure domination all the time. The first period I thought we did a nice job of playing. You have to expect them to push back. They're a good team but I don't think they dominated the whole (third) period."

Vanek was hurt when he was hooked on a breakaway by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk, although Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff called it a "two-handed slash."

"We tried to mix and match lines and I think we lost a little energy until about the 8-minute mark of the second period," Ruff said. "Sometimes when a key player like that goes down, there's a little bit of a letdown. That line was going pretty good for us. Thomas was going good. It was disappointing."

"He's a good hockey player. When you miss one of your better players, it's going to hurt but we've had injuries all season long and guys fought through," Buffalo captain Craig Rivet said. "We have really good depth on this team and we're not going to panic."

Miller, who made 26 saves, said he thought Buffalo was beaten by some lucky bounces for Boston and unlucky ones for his team. Ruff disagreed a bit.

"I can find fault with everybody when we get scored upon," Ruff said. "A lot of different things went wrong. We generated enough opportunities to score five or six goals. They did a nice job generating chances and they got some bounces."

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