BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- A seasoned veteran and an All-Star goaltender stopped
the Tampa Bay Lightning's worst slump of the season.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves and Dave Andreychuk scored his second goal
in two games in the Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday
The win was Tampa's first in seven games (1-4-2) and snapped their
three-game losing streak.
"If we can't learn a lesson from that guy, then we're blind," Tampa coach
John Tortorella said of Andreychuk, a 22-year veteran. "He was trying to make
a statement tonight."
Andreychuk, drafted by the Sabres in the first round of the 1982 draft,
scored his 616th career goal and third of the season midway through the second
period to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. After a shot from Shane Willis, Andreychuk
outmuscled defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick immediately in front of the net and
shoveled the rebound underneath goaltender Martin Biron.
The goal proved to be the winner.
"I've been trying to stay in front of the goal a little more," Andreychuk
said. "We were just trying to get shots and keep it simple. I don't think
(Biron) expected me to get it off their guy."
Dimitry Afanasenkov and Fredrik Modin also scored for Tampa Bay, which had
scored just six times during its six-game winless skid.
"When you're scoring one goal a game, there's a fine line of making
mistakes," Tortorella said.
Khabibulin allowed just one goal in his fifth start in the last six games.
He made several key saves early in the game, including one on a point-blank
shot by Maxim Afinogenov in the first period, and withstood a five-shot barrage
by Buffalo in the first two minutes of the second.
Khabibulin also robbed Dumont on a breakaway with less than four minutes
left in the second.
"We generated a lot of chances but (Khabibulin) made some big saves,"
Buffalo's Curtis Brown said. "That was the difference."
"It's always nice to end a losing streak," Khabibulin said. "But one game
doesn't make up for it."
The momentum of the game seemed to change when Afanasenkov tied the score at
1 with just 7 seconds remaining in the first after beating Biron with a hard
wrist shot from the high slot.
It was Afanasenkov's second goal of the year, and first since the season
"He shot it off his off-foot and it kind of handcuffed me and went under my
glove," Biron said.
J.P. Dumont scored for Buffalo, which lost its second straight and third out
of its last four.
"We came out and had some good opportunities in the second period," Sabres
coach Lindy Ruff said. "Khabibulin, he's one of the best in the league, if not
the best. He was on tonight."
Biron allowed three goals on 29 shots.
"We showed a lot tonight," Biron said. "We deserved a better outcome.
Dumont gave Buffalo 1-0 lead eight minutes into the first period, beating
Khabibulin between the legs with a low wrist shot from 8 feet away.
Modin capped the scoring for the Lightning with his seventh goal at 6:23 of
The Sabres lost for just the first time in regulation when scoring the first
goal of the game.
Willis added two assists for the Lightning, whose last win before Saturday
came against the Sabres on Nov. 22.
"I felt pretty good tonight," Khabibulin said. "We got the two points and
that's what I'm happy about."