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Hats Off to Daniel Briere

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The last time the Buffalo Sabres played the Tampa Bay Lightning, Buffalo won in convincing fashion at HSBC Arena. Almost every line scored in that game, 14 Sabres in total. The only line not to grace their presence on the score sheet was the line of Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht, and Jason Pominville.

Apparently, a change of venue was all Buffalo's top line needed to find success against the Lightning. Briere led all scorers with his first career hat trick, while Hecht and Pominville chipped in with two assists apiece, as Buffalo rolled away with the 4-1 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday night.

"I thought the Briere line, with Danny getting three, did a nice job," said Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

Briere was very modest about scoring his first career hat trick.

"I have to give my two linemates a lot of credit," said Briere. "When nights like this happen it's not just about yourself. You need some help."

The trio helped make sure the Sabres regained their footing in the second game of the team's longest road trip of the season after losing the opening game 7-4 in Washington on Saturday night. With the victory, the Sabres refrained from losing two games in a row for what would have been the first time this season.

Briere became the second current Sabres captain to net his first career hat trick this season. Co-captain Chris Drury, who scored against Tampa midway through the first, tallied his hat trick against the New York Rangers on October 14.

"I don't know why and I don't know how to explain it," said Briere. "But it just never happened before. It's certainly a great feeling to finally get one."

Tampa Bay took an early lead less than a minute into the game with a solid forecheck.

Pursuing the puck behind the net, Vincent Lecavalier stripped Hecht, curled in front and beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller five-hole to give Tampa Bay the 1-0 lead 53 ticks after the puck drop.

Miller stopped the next 29 Lightning shots to record his 14th victory of the season.

"Ryan didn't make any mistakes," said Ruff. "When we made some mistakes, Ryan was there for us. He was rock solid."

Andrew Peters struck the first blow for Buffalo, literally. Dressing for the third consecutive game, Peters squared off with Andre Roy two minutes into the contest. Peters made the most of his 4:19 of ice time - his most since November 17 against Pittsbrugh - and according to Briere, his impact was felt.

Added Briere: "[Peters' fight] was a momentum change. Sometimes fighting is not about winning or losing a fight but to get everyone to start skating."

Buffalo did just that, firing off four unanswered goals to move to 21-4-2 on the season.

Camped in front of the net, Briere would tie the game at 7:17 in the first as he poked the puck past Lightning goaltender Marc Denis, who had made the initial save on Pominville's shot from the point.

Drury gave Buffalo the lead as he roofed the puck over a downed Denis at 10:34 of the first period after collecting Nathan Paetsch's errant centering pass.

Buffalo increased its lead to two goals at 17:15 of the first as Briere scored his second goal of the night with a sharp wristshot from the right wing.

Briere finished out the scoring by netting his third on the night 12:21 into the third period after firing high glove on the Lightning netminder.

Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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