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Fans Generate Sabres Energy

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Basements around the Western New York area weren't the only things flooding on Saturday night. The nets behind goaltender Kevin Weekes were overflowing with goals as Buffalo submerged the New York Rangers 7-4 at HSBC Arena in a game that was nearly postponed due to a freak snowstorm that hit Buffalo on Thursday night.

Despite the massive infrastructure damage and an estimated 200,000 homes without power around the city, a capacity crowd provided the spark that the Sabres needed and fueled the team to its first five-game winning streak to open a season since 1975-76.

"Somewhere in Buffalo needed some electricity, I guess it might as well be here," said goaltender Ryan Miller, who recorded his first regulation victory of the season with 23 saves. "The fans did a great job. I guess they needed a release this weekend with so much hardship and inconvenience going on right now. It was fun to get the people out to the rink and give them a good show."

"We've always said that our fans are absolutely the best and they proved it again tonight," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "I don't know if I saw an empty seat. You look around outside and its absolute devastation in some areas. To come to the rink and see the number of people that showed up, knowing that there is probably a good number with the garage door open and the generator running still, kudos to them.

"That's a big enough lift for our team alone."

The crowd reached a fevered pitch as Chris Drury etched his name alongside the likes of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Danny Gare with is first career hattrick.

The achievement was a long time in the making for the Sabres co-captian. Drury appeared in 555 games before recording the 161st hattrick in franchise history.

"It's a good feeling," said Drury, who became the 54th player in team history to force fans to throw their buckets. "It's not something that I was focusing on night in and night out. It's just one of those things that you never know when it's going to come."

Only four other players currently on the roster have scored three goals in a single game: Maxim Afinogenov; Jochen Hecht; Jason Pominville; and Derek Roy.

Drury added the secondary assist on Ales Kotalik's first period goal to lead all scorers with four points in the game.

Nine other Sabres rounded out the scoring for Buffalo. Daniel Briere registered a goal and two assists, while Kotalik, Afinogenov and Hecht each had a goal.

Rookie Jiri Novotny and Jaroslav Spacek added two assists apiece.

"That was probably as good as I've seen us play in the first five games," said Ruff. "That looked like our team, the way we skated and the type of chances we created."

The blowout victory was a welcomed occasion for a team that has won three of the previous four games in overtime or a shootout. The only negative, according to Drury, was another slow start by the squad.

Buffalo was forced to battle back from a two-goal deficit for the win for the third time in five games this season.

"We can't comeback down by two every night," said Drury. "I'm sure it's something that we're going to work on in the next couple of days.

"But the big picture is that we battled back as a group and turned it into a big night for us."
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