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Sabres Burn Leafs, 6-2

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Beneath the freshly hung banner displaying Pat LaFontaine’s number, the Buffalo Sabres returned to the winning form that had the team two points behind Ottawa for the Division lead prior to the Olympic break. Derek Roy notched his first career hat trick, while Maxim Afinogenov notched three assists as Buffalo steamrolled Toronto 6-2 on Friday night.

"Our game was back where we needed it," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "We really skated well and created the type of chances we had been creating all year. They had trouble with our speed."

The line of Roy, Afinogenov and Thomas Vanek combined for four goals and seven points on the night.

"He really is a main cog for us," said Ruff of Roy, who extended his scoring streak to four games. "When he is on the ice, things happen."

Ryan Miller made 21 saves and allowed just two goals in the victory. Miller cruised through most of the game after stonewalling Toronto’s most challenging flurry six minutes into the second period.

"However he made them, he made the saves at key times in the game for us," said Ruff. "You need key saves and he’s been giving us those all year long."

Roy opened the scoring on the power play after a bad bounce caught Mikael Tellqvist off-guard. Skating below the goal line on the right wing, Roy attempted to feed Vanek in front of the net, but his pass deflected off Ken Klee's skate and slide between the legs of Toronto’s netminder.

Toronto tied the game eight minutes later after forcing a Buffalo turnover in its own zone.

Pressuring on the forecheck, Mats Sundin strips Henrik Tallinder just inside Buffalo’s blueline and finds Alex Ponikarovsky slashing to the net. Ponikarovsky deked and flipped a backhander just inside the left post for his 16th goal of the season.

Chris Drury regained the Buffalo lead off another miscue by Klee.

Intercepting the defenseman’s pass in the neutral zone, Drury and Ales Kotalik broke in on a two-on-one advantage where the Sabres co-captain flipped a precision wristshot just over Tellqvist's glove and inside the right post from the left faceoff dot.

With his first goal in 75 days, Daniel Briere extended Buffalo’s lead to a pair after one-timing a loose puck past Tellqvist. Skating along the left boards, Jochen Hecht's centering pass deflected through traffic to Briere at the right faceoff circle.

During four-on-four play, Afinogenov and Roy broke into the Buffalo zone on a two-on-one and scored the Sabres second goal of the period with just 21.3 seconds remaining on the clock. On his off-wing, Afinogenov found Roy with an across-ice pass for a one-timer, his second of the game and his ninth goal of the season.

With assists on both of Roy’s goals, Afinogenov extended his scoring streak to six games, giving him 10 (3+7) points in that span.

Alex Steen snapped Buffalo’s three-goal run after tipping Bryan McCabe’s blast from the right point to make the score 4-2 six minutes into the third.

Vanek tips Brian Campbell’s slapshot from the left point past Tellqvist for his 19th goal of the season and a three-goal Buffalo lead with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.

With four seconds left in regulation, Roy tips Campbell’s shot from the point to record his third goal.

Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

Period 1
1-0 (4:59): Derek Roy's pass to Thomas Vanek from behind the goal line deflects off Ken Klee's skate and between the legs of Mikael Tellqvist. The power-play goal is Roy's eighth of the season and second on the man advantage. Maxim Afinogenov and Teppo Numminen record the assists.

1-1 (12:48): Off a Buffalo turnover in their own zone, Alex Ponikarovsky received a pass from Mats Sundin, skated in on Ryan Miller and flipped a backhander that snuck just inside the left post. The goal is Ponikarovsky's 16th of the season. Sundin and Ken Klee get the helpers.

2-1 (13:59): Chris Drury intercepts Ken Klee's pass in the neutral zone and pass to Ales Kotalik, who inturn found Drury at the left faceoff dot. The Sabres co-captain flips a precission wristshot just over Tellqvist's glove and inside the right post. The goal is Drury's 19th of the season. Kotalik gets the lone helper.

Period 2
3-1 (12:15): Daniel Briere one-timed a loose puck into the top-left corner of the net for a two-goal Buffalo lead. Sitting along the left boards, Jochen Hecht's centering pass deflected through traffic to Briere at the right faceoff circle. The goal is the Sabres co-captain's 15th of the season and first goal since December 16 at Pittsburgh. Hecht and Jay McKee get the helpers.

4-1 (19:38): During four-on-four play, Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy break into the Buffalo zone on a two-on-one. Afinogenov finds Roy with an across-ice pass that Roy one-times over a sprawling Tellqvist for his second of the game. Afinogenov gets the lone helper.

Period 3
4-2 (6:46): Bryan McCabe fires a slapshot from the right point through traffic over his right pad. The even-strength goal was McCabe 18th of the season and snapped a three-goal run by Buffalo. Matt Stajan and Alex Steen get the helpers.

5-2 (17:06): Thomas Vanek tips Brian Campbell's slapshot from the left point past Tellqvist for his 19th goal of the season. Campbell and Afinogenov get the helpers.6-2 (19:56): Derek Roy scores in the last seconds of play to gain his first hat-trick in the NHL and his tenth goal of the season.
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