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Sabres 7, Lightning 2 @NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -The Buffalo Sabres knew what they needed to do after a sluggish first period, and they didn't need a pep talk to figure it out.

Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad each scored twice in Buffalo's seven-goal second period, and Ales Kotalik had three assists to lead the Sabres to a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

"Nothing was said," Kotalik said. "We had to generate more, and each line had to go to work in the second."

That's exactly what the Sabres did, scoring a season-high seven goals in the middle frame on just 13 shots against beleaguered Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis, making his second start in seven games.

"It's pretty fun and special, but we can't just turn it on," said Gaustad, who also added an assist for a career-high three points. "We have to play our system, and we'll get our chances to put the puck away."

It was the fifth time the Sabres scored six or more goals this season, and the second time in five games that they had seven. Buffalo also rebounded from a 4-1 loss to Ottawa on Saturday, and has not lost back-to-back games this season.

"We don't like to lose," Gaustad said. "There was a letdown in Ottawa, and we got back on track tonight."

Jiri Novotny, Jaroslav Spacek and Chris Drury also scored for the Sabres, who won for the sixth time in eight games.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves to win for the first time since Nov. 2. He missed four games in the middle of the month with an abdominal strain.

Martin St. Louis had two goals for Tampa Bay, which lost its second straight and third in its last four.

"We got beat by not doing the details," St. Louis said. "If you have mishaps on details against a team like Buffalo, you get a second period like that."

St. Louis gave the Lightning a 1-0 first-period lead before the Sabres broke loose.

Gaustad opened the scoring on the power play for Buffalo, fighting off Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Richardson along the side of the net to knock the puck in after it bounced off the end boards off a shot from Maxim Afinogenov.

Novotny scored 63 seconds later, and Vanek made it 3-1 at 7:48 of the second.

Gaustad and Spacek followed with goals 24 seconds apart in the middle of the period before Vanek pushed Buffalo's lead to 6-1 with his team-leading 15th goal at 14:02 while the Sabres enjoyed the man-advantage.

Drury capped the spurt with his 12th of the season with 2:41 to go.

"No one saw that coming," Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger said.

Buffalo's top line of Jochen Hecht, Daniel Briere and Jason Pominville, along with defenseman Brian Campbell, were the only players not to register a point.

"If you have to rely on your top line every night, it will get you in trouble," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella tersely answered four questions from reporters before abruptly walking away. Tortorella was thrown out in the second period of the Lightning's loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday after arguing a disputed Rangers goal.

St. Louis made it 7-2 with his team-leading 13th of the season at 1:52 of the third.

"The feeling is awful," Denis said. "I've been through one-sided games in my career, but I don't know if I've fished the puck out of my net seven times in such a short span."

Notes: The game marked the beginning of a three-game homestand for the Sabres. ... Buffalo D Toni Lydman missed his sixth straight game because of a neck strain. ... Tampa Bay captain Tim Taylor missed his third game with a neck injury. ... Coming in, the Lightning and Sabres were tied for the most goals scored in the second period (30). ... Sabres D Michael Funk got his first career NHL point with an assist on Spacek's goal. ... The game was halted with 2:08 remaining in the second after the end boards partially split where the glass slides into it, and the teams were sent to their dressing rooms.

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