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Gutting it out in Tampa Bay

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres

March 16, 2007
By Glenn Odebralski

Whenever the Sabres get in a funk, all that seems to be needed to get out of it, is to just get away from the confines of HSBC Arena.

Buffalo continued their elite road warrior status in Tampa Bay, as they scored on three consecutive shots just 2:55 apart in the first period and held off a furious Lightning comeback attempt to skate away with the 3-2 victory.

"When you have a two-goal lead, you kind of turn it down a notch," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "You don't want your defense joining and creating opportunities where if you miss you're going to give up an opportunity and let them back in the game.

"So we did slow it down, but when it got 3-2, we went after it again."

After losing three straight at home, Buffalo has earned five of a possible six points during the first three of a four game road trip.. It was also the first time since April 1-2, 2001 that the Sabres have swept the Florida teams on consecutive nights, beating Florida 5-3 on Thursday night.

"It's tough, especially with the back-to-back games," said forward Jason Pominville. "They didn't play last night and we did."

"It was a real good effort," said Ruff. "I thought that our battle was real good and I thought that the tone was set in the first shift. We didn't score but we had some real good opportunities. After that it was a hard fought game."

With the victory, Buffalo increased their lead to four points for the fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, as they now have 98 points (46-19-6). The Sabres have a league best 49 points on the road (23-9-3).

The win didn't come easy for the team as the Sabres were outshot 37-20. Ryan Miller made 35 saves and the penalty kill unit held the league's sixth rated power play to no goals in the game.

"I thought our guys battled hard," said Miller. "I kind of cued off that and maybe they cued off me a little too.

"We knew it was going to be an entire night of work and we did a good job."

Tampa Bay jumped on the scoreboard just 2:21 into the contest as Vincent Lecavalier blasted a one-timer off Martin St. Louis' pass just inside the right post for his league leading 47th of the season.

Pominville tied the score by becoming the third Sabre this season to score 30 goals (Drury and Thomas Vanek), as he took an errant Nathan Paetsch shot that rebounded off the boards behind the net, and put the puck just inside the right post from the goal line at 7:29 of the first.

"It's pretty good," said Pominville about joining the 30-goal club. "Looking back to a couple of years ago, I don't think that someday I would score 30. It's something I'm pretty proud of."

Derek Roy top shelf offering guided just inside the top of the net at 8:05 of the opening frame to give Buffalo its first lead, 2-1.

Pominville moved to the front of the net in-between three Tampa Bay defenders, took the Daniel Briere feed, and beat Marc Denis for his second of the night at the 10:24 mark to give Buffalo the 3-1 lead.

Lecavalier scored once again for Tampa Bay to bring them to within 3-2, 4:38 into the third period. After a turnover in the Sabres zone, Lecavalier's centering pass from just above the goal line deflected past Miller five-hole.

Note: Jaroslav Spacek returned to the lineup after missing 13 games due to a broken hand that he suffered on February 10, 2007 against the Calgary Flames. He took the place of Toni Lydman who sat out with a upper-body injury he suffered on Friday at Florida. The defenseman was paired with Nathan Paetsch for most of the night, and finished with 13:02 of ice time and a plus-one rating.
Quotes courtesy WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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