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HSBC Arena Electric In Victory

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The excitement in HSBC Arena was surging as the two hottest teams in the NHL squared off Wednesday night. With former President of the United States, Bill Clinton among the 16,575 in attendance, Buffalo held on to take a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Sabres have now claimed 25 out of a possible 28 points in the team's last 14 games.

Martin Biron led the way for Buffalo, stopping 32 of 35 shots for his 12th consecutive victory in as many starts.

"The crowd was just electrifying," said Biron. "The energy right from the get go, when Ronan (Tynan) sang 'God Bless America,' I had chills up my spine."

"(Dallas) has some firepower they turned loose and started double-shifting," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of the third period in which Dallas recorded 17 shots. "They had us on our heels but I thought Marty made the key saves when we needed him."

Biron gave the crowd something to cheer for, making six or seven game-saving stops in the third. Two came against some high-class opposition.

Less than five minutes into the final period, Biron swiped away Jason Arnott's backhand offering with his glove and stacked his pads to stop Bill Guerin's attempt to slap the ensuing rebound home.

The crowd erupted in chants of, "Marty…. Marty."

"That's fun," said Biron with a smile when asked about the chant. "When you are on a roll like this, that definitely gives me chills and makes you push a little bit harder every time."

Only one of Dallas' three goals came off shots. The other two were directed past the Sabres' netminder by his own defensemen.

"They got a few bounces – good for them, bad for us – off a skate and a stick, and it made the game a little closer than we wanted it to be," said Biron. "But at the end of the night, we came through against a team that has been doing really well on the road."

"(Dallas') road record was 9-2," said Ruff. "Somebody didn't just give them that record. They went on the road and did a heck of a job.

"I thought we gave them one heck of a game."

Maxim Afinogenov gave Buffalo the early lead with his sixth goal of the season. Receiving a pass from Derek Roy on the left boards, Afinogenov sprung to the front of the net unmolested, deked and flipped a backhand shot over Dallas goaltender Marty Turco's left blocker.

Feeling the holiday spirit, Mike Grier gift-wrapped Derek Roy's third goal of the season. Grier received a pass from Jochen Hecht in the slot, turned and swung the puck to Roy, who was stationed at the left post, for the wide-open net. Turco was protecting the right side of the net from a possible shot by Grier.

Extending his scoring streak to four games, Thomas Vanek increased Buffalo's lead to 3-0, redirecting Ales Kotalik's shot from the point at 12:30 in the second. The goal snapped a 0-7 scoreless streak for Buffalo on the man advantage.

Dallas roared back with two goals in under two minutes to cut Buffalo's lead to 3-2 heading into the third. Jere Lehtinin dribbled a shot off Henrik Tallinder's skate, while Steve Ott redirected former Sabres captain, Stu Barnes' pass from the right wing to get Dallas within one.

Daniel Briere gave the Sabres a two-goal lead 1:42 into the third. With Kotalik's shot from the point coming to a stop just a foot from the goal line, Briere fought through traffic, dove and slammed the puck into the back of the net. The goal was Sabres co-captain's first since October 29 against Ottawa.

Stephane Robidas cut Buffalo's lead to 4-3 when his centering pass ricocheted off Brian Campbell stick into the top-left corner of the net.
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Period 1
1-0 (2:58): Derek Roy saucers a pass to Maxim Afinogenov, who dekes Marty Turco twice before tossing a backhander over the netminders left blocker. The goal is Afinogenov's sixth of the season. Roy and Brian Campbell get the helpers.

Period 2
2-0 (8:10): On a tic-tac-toe play, Jochen Hecht passes across-ice to Mike Grier on the right wing. Grier immediately passed the puck back to Derek Roy at the left post for the wide open net. Marty Turco had slide to the right post to guard against the shot by Grier. The goal is Roy's third of the season.

3-0 (12:30): Thomas Vanek redirects Ales Kotalik's shot from the point for the power-play goal and a three-goal Buffalo lead. The goal is Vanek's seventh of the season and third on the man-advantage. Kotalik and Teppo Numminen register the assists.

3-1 (13:30): Jere Lehtinen slaps a shot that deflects off Henrik Tallinder's skate past Martin Biron. The goal is unassisted and Lehtinen's 16th of the season.

3-2 (14:59): Steve Ott cuts Buffalo's lead to a goal, redirecting Stu Barnes' pass from the right wing over Martin Biron's glove. The goal is Ott's second of the season.

Period 3
4-2 (1:42): Charging through a Dallas defenseman, Daniel Briere dives across the crease and slaps the puck - which was resting directly behind Marty Turco - into the net for his 13th goal of the season. Turco made the initial save on Ales Kotalik's point shot but the puck just creped out from between his legs. Kotalik gets the only helper.

4-2 (4:30): The crowd at HSBC Arena begins chanting, "Marty... Marty" following two huge saves by Biron.

4-3 (12:59): For the second time in the game, a Buffalo defenseman inadvertantly directed the puck into the net. This time, Brian Campbell was attempting to take away the centering pass from Stephane Robidas, but the puck hit Campbell stick and richoted into the top-left corner of the net.
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