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San Jose Sharks 1, Buffalo Sabres 2 FINAL @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Daniel Briere wasn't happy with the outcome of his first game as Buffalo's captain. He made sure he personally fixed that in his second.

Briere, selected the Sabres' captain for the month of February, scored both goals in Buffalo's 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.

The Sabres bounced back from a 6-2 loss to Boston just before to the All-Star break, Briere's inaugural game with the ``C'' on his sweater.

``It's a lot better,'' said Briere, who had his second two-goal game of the season. ``Hopefully it will be like that every night. It's a great feeling right now.''

Martin Biron made 27 saves for the Sabres, who won for the sixth time in the last eight games (6-2-0). The Sabres, currently n ninth in the Eastern Conference, are 4-1-0 during a crucial stretch in which they play eight of 10 games at home.

Mike Ricci scored for the Sharks, who have never recorded a point in Buffalo since entering the league in 1991 (0-11-0). San Jose is now 8-3-0-1 in its last 12 games, five points in front of the Dallas Stars for first place in the Pacific Division.

Briere, who has never scored a hat trick in his six-year career, has five points in his last four games, including three goals.

``Tonight he was aggressive and really stepped up,'' Biron said.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff concurred.

``Danny just knows where to go,'' Ruff said. ``It's a gift that offensive players have.''

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead when Ricci scored his fifth goal midway in the first period. Ricci, playing in his 999th NHL game, picked up a loose puck in the slot. He passed to Jonathan Cheechoo, who was being defended by Sabres forward Derek Roy at the side of the Buffalo net. The puck hit Roy's skate and ricocheted into an open net.

Buffalo tied it at 1 less than six minutes later while the Sabres had the man advantage. Chris Drury's pass from the right circle found Briere standing alone on the left side of the crease. Briere deposited the puck into an empty net.

``We were a little sluggish at first,'' Briere said. ``We knew they were going to come out hard.''

The Sharks have outscored their opponents 54-18 in the opening period.

After a scoreless second, Briere scored his second of the game and 18th of the season just 44 seconds into the third period. San Jose defenseman Tom Preissing's clearing attempt from his right circle bounced off J.P. Dumont and onto the stick of Briere. His slap shot from between the circles beat goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

``The puck was kind of rolling and he ripped it over my shoulder,'' said Nabokov, who was coming off two straight shutouts.

Preissing, a rookie, knew as soon as the pass left his stick it was headed for trouble.

``You try to make a play, but it's something I shouldn't have been trying to do in the first place,'' he said.

Nabokov ended with 33 saves.

``We weren't there 100 percent tonight and we have to work on that and have to play like it's a playoff game,'' Nabokov said.

Since enduring a seven-game losing streak in December, the Sabres have earned points in 15 of 23 games.

``After that losing streak we've been able to bounce back after losses and we did that tonight,'' Briere said.

The game was the first of a six-game road trip for the Sharks, who play in Detroit on Wednesday.

``Unfortunately our defense wasn't in the game tonight,'' Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. ``Mentally we made a lot of mistakes.''

At the end of the game, Sharks forward Nils Ekman was given a match penalty for attempt to injure Sabres defenseman Dmitri Kalinin as time expired. Ekman gave Kalinin a two-handed slash after Kalinin high-sticked him across the face. Ekman followed the slash by tackling Kalinin. The match penalty carries an automatic review by the league.

``Anyone who high-sticks someone after a game, I'd react the same way no matter what the score was,'' Ekman said. ``I can't just go away.''

Notes: Buffalo D Alexei Zhitnik played in his 700th career game as a Sabre, becoming the eight player in franchise history to reach that number. ... This was the only meeting between the teams this season. ... Sharks C Patrick Marleau had his five-game point streak snapped. ... It was Briere's ninth multigoal game.

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