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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Derek Roy (photo: Getty Images)

Waking up from a vivid dream can be a disorienting and disheartening affair.  One minute it's there and the next it's gone.

Sabres center Derek Roy can sympathize. 

Roy had the type of night that most players fantasize about  in Buffalo's 7-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.  It's also the type of performance that Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff wants to see out the emerging young star.

Too bad it just wasn't during the regular season.

Recap:  Sabres Offense Explodes
Audio: Derek Roy Post-Game 
Audio:  Lindy Ruff Post-Game
Photos: Sabres 7, Leafs 2

"We're looking for him to play a lot bigger role," said Ruff of Roy's increased responsibility.  "In the absence of Danny [Briere] and Chris [Drury], he'll garner quite a bit of that five-on-three power play time.  And he'll have a larger penalty killing role.

"From that standpoint, we feel that his game will get better."

The five-foot-nine, 186-pound center posted career numbers with a six-point performance in Buffalo's fourth exhibition game.  He picked up the primary assists on each of Buffalo's opening two goals then his third on Thomas Vanek's first tally of the preseason just 1:12 into the second period.

That's when the fun really started.

Twice during Roy's three-year NHL career had he scored three goals.  But never in succession.  That all changed in less than a nine minute span beginning late in the second. 

First, Roy beat Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala with a two-man advantage at 17:08.  Five minutes later, it was his even-strength shot that gave Buffalo a four-goal lead.  Roy capped it all off by converting on a shorthanded, breakaway opportunity less than seven minutes into the final frame.

"I remember once in junior I had a six-point game," said Roy referring to his stint with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, "but it was just six assists.

"It's alright [to get the six-point game], but it's good to get the win.  We struggled scoring goals in the past three games and we wanted to get off to a good start."

Instead of becoming the 19th Buffalo player to record a natural hat trick -  the 24th of its kind in franchise history - and the first in more than 14 years to score half a dozen points in a game, Roy's magical night will be left out of next year's media guide.

Oh, how cruel fate can be.

Preseason statistics are often forgotten and rarely discussed at the water cooler once October rolls around.  But that doesn't mean Roy will ever forget the 26th of September.

"He's one guy that can hang onto the puck and make things happen," said Ruff.  "He's one of those guys that's real shifty and makes something out of nothing."

It may have been the performance of his life.  It's just too bad it couldn't have come two weeks later.
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