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Vanek scores three straight goals to help Sabres get back on the winning side @NHLdotcom

Thomas Vanek stopped the Buffalo Sabres' alarming slide at just two games.

He scored three goals in a row, including the winner 2:25 into overtime that gave Buffalo a sorely needed 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

"We need points and we got two points, that's the most important part," Vanek said. "It's good to stop the losing streak at two and hopefully putting a streak the other way."

Although it was just two games, both losses were concerning for the Sabres. Buffalo barely showed up in a 5-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Saturday, and then lost 4-1 to Pittsburgh the following night despite dominating play early. This happened after they fought back into the playoff race by going 8-0-2 in 10 games.

The win put the Sabres into a three-way tie with Boston and struggling Philadelphia for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Vanek scored twice in a span of 36 seconds, forcing overtime when he stuffed in Tim Connolly's feed with 1:45 left in regulation.

"It feels great," said Vanek, who has scored 12 goals - including four game-winners - in 11 games after he managed just 13 in his first 50 of the season. "It's finally coming and hopefully I can stay on my game from here on out."

In Wednesday night's other NHL games, it was: Anaheim 3, Colorado 2 in a shootout; New Jersey 3, San Jose 2; N.Y. Islanders 3, Washington 2 in a shootout; Calgary 3, Dallas 2; Chicago 3, Minnesota 0.

Brad Richards, Vaclav Prospal and Chris Gratton scored for the Lightning, who fell to 4-1-2 in their past seven, and remain in last place in the East.

The loss incensed Lightning coach John Tortorella, who erupted briefly in the team's locker room with reporters present. "You better get it figured out, because I'm not going to be around it," Tortorella yelled.

The coach was a little more subdued a few minutes later when meeting with reporters outside the locker room.

"We got paralyzed, and to me it's mental toughness. And it's coming from our top people," Tortorella said.

Tampa Bay appeared in control when Prospal, parked in the slot, backhanded in a rebound with 6:48 remaining. The Sabres responded, finally rediscovering an offense that had mustered three goals in its previous three games.

"Well, if you look at the last few games, it felt like we weren't going to score again," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

His mood changed after watching the Sabres score four times in less than a 20-minute span.

"When you get on a roll, you feel like it's going to continue," Ruff said.

Corey Perry scored the deciding goal in the shootout for host Anaheim.

After Perry opened the shootout by beating Colorado goalie Peter Budaj, Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped all three Colorado shooters to secure the Ducks' seventh victory in eight games.

Mike Comrie scored the only goal of the shootout, and visiting New York pushed its winning streak to a season-high five games.

Comrie's backhander was the last shot in the shootout, following misses by Washington's Viktor Kozlov, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and New York's Richard Park and Miroslav Satan.

Satan and Josef Vasicek scored in regulation for the Islanders, who overcame a 2-0 deficit for the second straight game, having rallied from two down to beat San Jose 3-2 at home on Monday. New York's winning streak, its longest since December 2003, has come on the heels of a seven-game skid that dropped the team to the fringe of the playoff race.

John Madden and Sergei Brylin scored 1:10 apart during New Jersey's three-goal second period, and the Devils took advantage of backup goalie Thomas Greiss.

During a rare night off for San Jose ironman Evgeni Nabokov, the Devils scored three goals on 10 shots in the pivotal period and won their third straight and fifth in six games (5-0-1). They were outshot 32-20 and went without a power-play chance until the third.

San Jose dropped its season-worst fifth in a row overall (0-4-1), including the first three of an eight-game Eastern road swing. The Sharks were 16-3-2 away from home on Jan. 1, but have gone 1-5-1 on the road since - losing four straight.

Jarome Iginla scored the go-ahead goal with 2:27 remaining for visiting Calgary.

With the game tied at 2, Daymond Langkow backhanded a pass in front of the net to an unchecked Iginla, the former Dallas first-round draft pick who fired his 38th goal of the season past Stars goaltender Marty Turco.

Alex Tanguay scored twice for the Flames, including a short-handed goal early in the third period, breaking a 16-goal drought.

Curtis Joseph stopped 29 shots in his third game for the Flames, who have won four of their last six.

Nikolai Khabibulin made 38 saves for his first shutout in nearly a year and rookie Dave Bolland scored two goals for host Chicago.

NHL rookie points leader Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who are 5-1-1 in their last seven.

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