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Six in Second Leads to Big Win

by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff has been seeking a complete performance by his team all season long. Well, Ruff needs to search no farther than Tuesday night's game tape.

Building off their momentum from an emotional victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night, Buffalo dominated a slower Philadelphia lineup for three periods.

Speed kills and Buffalo used every ounce of theirs to steamroll the Flyers 9-1 and extend their winning streak to six games.

"We've gotten fortunate, we've gotten some bounces, some breaks and some things to go our way," said Ruff of the 6-0-0 start to the season. "Right now, we've gotten ourselves in a roll and I've often said that breeds a lot of confidence and you don't think you'll lose."

"We're playing good hockey and we're still learning about ourselves," said goaltender Ryan Miller. "Each night there are adjustments to be made and we want to just keep having fun with it."

All facets of Buffalo's game were in sync against Philadelphia. Defensively, the team held the Flyers scoreless in five power-play situations. Offensively, Buffalo continuously rolled four lines, controlled play and created odd-man rushes. As for goaltending, Miller stopped 37 of 38 shots for his fifth victory of the season.

"With a score like 9-1 everyone thinks it was great offense, but we had great defense as well," said Thomas Vanek. "All four lines played well and that's what we need every night."

"Miller may be lost in the shuffle tonight, but he made some key saves times that probably allowed us to get momentum on our side," said Ruff. "I thought our puck movement in the transition game was really good and that's just hard work [in practice]."

The grudge match between the two teams that squared off in the first-round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs was pegged as an opportunity for the Flyers to regain their swagger after a slow start and a chance for a little vengeance against the team that ended their season.

The first looked to prove that fact when neither team could take the advantage in a hard-fought period in which Buffalo outshoot the Flyers 12-9.

But as the tempo of the game accelerated into the second, Philadelphia began to lag behind. Flyers goaltender Robert Esche could only sit back and watch as the Sabres attacked in waves, scoring six unanswered goals in the middle frame.

"The goals we scored, there wasn't much that [Esche] could do," said Vanek. "It was one of those games where a lot of stuff went in."

Another three-goal burst by Buffalo at the beginning of the third forced the capacity crowd in HSBC Arena to begin chanting, "we want ten."

"We have a lot of fun with our fans, especially when they have something to cheer about all night," said Miller. "They make you feel good."

The line of Vanek, Maxim Afinogenov and Derek Roy were the most deadly for Buffalo. The trio accounted for five goals and six assists in the game. Afinogenov led all scorers with a goal and four assists - the first Sabre to record five points in a game since October 8, 2000 - while Vanek notched two goals and two helpers.

"We made the same plays [as in the first five games] and the finish was just there tonight," said Vanek. "As long as we get our chances, we're happy. Tonight those chances just went in for everybody."
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