December 23, 2005
by Brian Wheeler
After suffering their first road loss in nearly two months on Thursday, the Sabres decided to work Tampa Bay into the ground on Friday. Falling behind less than three minutes into the game, Buffalo muscled four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the Lightning in the St. Pete Times Forum.
Even with a 3-1 lead heading into the third period, the Sabres continued to attack, firing seven shots on goal in the final period.
Buffalo penalty kill unit, ranked among the top 10 in the league entering the contest, held Tampa Bay scoreless in seven opportunities.
The unit's crown jewel of the game was its performance in the third period. With less than eight minutes remaining in regulation and with Adam Mair in the penalty box for boarding, the unit allowed just one shot in two minutes during a Tampa Bay power play.
received his 12th start of the season in net for Buffalo, making 30 saves in his eighth victory and now holds a record of 4-0 against the three goaltenders selected to compete for Team USA in the Olympics this February in Torino, Italy.
Less than three minutes into the game, Vaclav Prospal snapped a wristshot just inside the left post from the right face-off circle to give Tampa Bay the early 1-0 lead. The even-strength marker was Prospal's 16th of the season and extended his scoring streak to four games.
tied the game with his second goal in as many games. Vanek shoveled in the rebound off Henrik Tallinder's slapshot from the left point. Tampa Bay goaltender John Grahme was struck in the chest by Tallinder's shot but couldn't contain the puck.
The goal is Vanek's ninth of the season, fourth on the power-play and fifth in the last eight games. In total, 13 of Vanek's 23 points have come on the man advantage.
Buffalo took the 2-1 lead off an almost impossible pass by Jochen Hecht
. Skating down the right wing, Hecht backhanded an across-ice pass from one side of the goal line to the other for Chris Drury, who one-timed the puck over Grahame's right pad at 6:41 of the second.
Henrik Tallinder gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead with his second goal of the season off a great pass from Daniel Paille to Paul Gaustad. Paille recorded his first career point after shielding a defenseman from the puck and feeding Gaustad cutting to the net with a no-look pass. Gaustad's shot is blocked by Grahame but the rebound is converted by Tallinder.
Ales Kotalik finishes the game with an empty-net marker with a little more than two minutes remaining in regulation.
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