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Sabres claim share of East lead by routing Coyotes

by Brian Hunter
Heading out on a season-high, seven-game road trip has done nothing so far to slow down the Buffalo Sabres.

Jason Pominville scored twice and six different Sabres had goals Monday night as they rolled to a 7-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves and was supported by goals from defensemen Tyler Myers and Chris Butler as well as forwards Patrick Kaleta, Jochen Hecht and Thomas Vanek as the Sabres claimed a share of the lead in the Eastern Conference.

"It's something we talked about before the game," Pominville said. "We wanted to make a statement on this road trip."

Buffalo has 66 points, the same as Washington, but in one fewer game. The Sabres haven’t lost in regulation in 11 games (8-0-3), and are 2-0-1 so far on a road trip that continues Tuesday night in Anaheim.

"I said before the game we had an opportunity to tie up top, and our goal is to get there," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We'll enjoy it for the next half-hour, then get ready to play a team that's been playing real well in their building, and that's Anaheim."

Myers had the lone goal of the first period, just 2:37 in, when he beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a slap shot from between the circles. It was the seventh goal and 27th point for the rookie taken with the No. 12 pick in last year’s Entry Draft.

"That’s exactly the way we wanted to come out and play," Myers said.

Buffalo then took full control of the game with a four-goal second, driving Bryzgalov from the net in just over four minutes. Butler scored his first of the season at the 2:44 mark, taking a great pass from Vanek, who finished with a three-point game, and releasing a shot from the left circle that trickled in off Bryzgalov.

Kaleta made it 3-0 at 4:01 with a shot between the goalie’s pads, prompting Phoenix coach Dave Tippett to send Jason LaBarbera into the game in relief.

"The first three goals were all stoppable goals," Tippett said. “The first two we made some mistakes on, but they’re stoppable goals."

Bryzgalov already has a career-high five shutouts this season and is just one away from matching his best total for wins in a season, but he’s now allowed 25 goals in his last seven starts and been pulled twice in that span.

"Stops he was making earlier in the year he just hasn't been able to get right now," Tippett said. "We'll keep working with him, (goaltending coach) Sean (Burke) can work with him. He’s just like the rest of our group -- he needs to play better."

Shane Doan momentarily got the Coyotes back in the game when he deflected the rebound of his own shot out of mid-air and past Miller with 5:53 left in the second, but Pominville responded just 24 seconds later by beating LaBarbera from the right circle and Hecht made it 5-1 with 1:37 left in the period.

"That shift after they scored was huge for us," Myers said. "That's exactly what we have to do. We want to try and limit their momentum as much as we can."

Vanek and Pominville added goals in the third, sandwiched around a Radim Vrbata score for Phoenix.

"They played a good game and we played horrible," Doan said, "and when that happens the score ends up like that."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report

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