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Ducks ride four-goal first to 5-4 win over Buffalo

by John Kreiser
The Anaheim Ducks used the fastest start in franchise history to survive a 45-shot barrage by the Buffalo Sabres and hang on for their eighth consecutive home win, 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Ducks came out flying and drove Patrick Lalime to the bench by scoring four times in the first 10:26. But Buffalo made a game of it by scoring three times in the first 6:12 of the second and pressured the Ducks for more than 30 minutes before Troy Bodie's goal with 4:07 remaining in regulation gave Anaheim some breathing room.

Bodie's goal, a blast from the slot after a bad pass by Sabres forward Jason Pominville, proved to be the winner when Jochen Hecht scored with 52.2 seconds remaining.

"Bodie got a huge goal for us there late in the third period," said Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and an assist. "Those are things that we need to win hockey games. Tonight wasn’t the prettiest effort throughout the whole game, but we were able to get that early lead and hold it."

Anaheim has scored at least four goals in all eight games during its home winning streak.

Jonas Hiller finished with 41 saves to give Anaheim its sixth victory in seven games overall -- wins the Ducks will need because they start a six-game road trip Thursday night in San Jose.

"We’ve played pretty well at home lately," Hiller said. "At least we got the points and found ways to win. We have to do the same thing on the road now. We have that confidence that we can win every game. We have to keep going. It’s not going to come by itself. We have to work hard, especially if we can start like tonight and play 60 minutes."

Despite outshooting Anaheim 28-13 after the first period, Buffalo fell to 2-1-1 on its seven-game road trip and fell two points behind Washington in the Eastern Conference race. It was the Sabres' first regulation loss in 10 games against the Western Conference this season -- they fell to 8-1-1.

The Ducks started fast, taking a 2-0 lead in the first 1:53. Getzlaf banged home the rebound of Corey Perry's shot 51 seconds into the game, and Evgeni Artyukhin beat Lalime on a breakaway 1:02 later after a misplay by Henrik Tallinder.

It became 3-0 at 5:23 when Mike Brown chipped Artyukhin's pass behind Lalime, and Bobby Ryan finished Lalime's evening by tipping Getzlaf's shot out of the air and into the net at 10:26.

In all, the Ducks set franchise records for the fastest two, three and four goals from the start of a game. But Hiller, for one, wasn't ready to claim victory after 20 minutes.

"If you have four goals, it can be dangerous," Hiller said. "They knew they had to do something. They scored two quick goals and were back in the game. At the end, we have to take the positives. We found a way to win. That is what it important right now."

Ryan Miller, who played in Monday's 7-2 win at Phoenix, came into the game and quieted things down for the Sabres, who regrouped at the start of the second period.

''Sometimes the strategy in changing goalies is to get the guys fired up, and we responded well,'' said Lalime, whose slashing penalty led to Ryan's goal. ''It would have been easy to just pack it in. But everybody in this room was committed to come back. We responded well to the change and we came close.''

Buffalo got on the board 23 seconds into the period when Tim Connolly jammed in a power-play goal off a scramble in the crease, then made it 4-2 just 28 seconds later when Clarke MacArthur banged in Paul Gaustad's rebound.

Hiller stopped Buffalo's Thomas Vanek on a breakaway soon after, but Steve Montador picked off a pass, raced in and beat him with a backhander at 6:12 to make it 4-3.

"We had two in the first minute, then we had three in the first 10," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought the way we were playing it was going to be inevitable that the fourth one was going to come."

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