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Skating Away With Huge Victory

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres badly needed to snap out of a mid-season funk where they had lost six of the team's last eight games entering Tuesday night. The Boston Bruins were in the same boat, dropping seven of their last nine.

But it was the Sabres who showed desperation from the opening puck drop until the final buzzer sounded. For 60 minutes, Buffalo never stopped attacking. For 60 minutes, they didn't allow Boston to breath. And for a team that didn't arrive in Buffalo until late Monday night from a contest against the New York Rangers, it was devastating.

Buffalo simply out skated a ragged Boston team that was playing the tail end of back-to-back games en route to a 7-1 victory in HSBC Arena on Tuesday night.

"It's isn't easy to fly in, get in late, not skate [in the morning] and try to find the energy to play the next night," said head coach Lindy Ruff. " It didn't look like tonight they could generate any energy. And they are a good skating team.

"We caught them in a perfect scenario where we knew our energy should be better. But we did a good job in taking it to them."

Buffalo may have caught a break with the schedule, but the team earned the victory. During the past month, the Sabres had showed glimpses of their past magic, but those performances disappeared and reappeared from period to period. The team didn't have that problem against Boston.

Buffalo put forth what Ruff described as a "complete performance" and one that can be utilized as a foundation for the remainder of the season.

"It was definitely needed after losing two disappointing games in the third period," said Ruff. "I know it's only one night, but for 60 minutes, that desperation was there and we got it from a lot of places."

"Even in the third period, we talked about building on this going forward," said goaltender Martin Biron, who recorded his 10th victory of the season after saving 25-of-26 shots.

"It's clichT, but it was one game. We never panic after one loss and we don't want to go to the other extreme after one win."

Daniel Briere led all Sabres scorers with his second-career hat trick, while Maxim Afinogenov recorded three assists. In total, 11 different Sabres registered points in the team's seventh seven-goal game this season.

Henrik Tallinder returned to the Sabres lineup and continued an obvious trend. The Sabres are 15-1-1 when Tallinder plays and just 19-13-3 when he doesn’t.

"[Tallinder] calms our penalty kill," said Briere, referring to the penalty kill holding Boston to just one power-play goal in six opportunities. "He's definitely a force, especially with the new rules, his long reach and the way he skates. He just calms everything down back there."

The Sabres power play, which has scored in each of the last three games, got plenty of work in the first period. Boston took three penalties in the opening 2:05 of play, giving the 20th ranked power play in the league a jump-start with a two-man advantage.

Vanek gave Buffalo the lead at 2:15 when he deflected Jason Pominville's low wristshot from the right point over the shoulder of Hannu Toivonen to record his 10th power-play goal of the season. The goal, Vanek's 25th, ended the Austrian's four-game skid where he had posted just two assists.

Boston's third penalty of the game five minutes later resulted in Buffalo's second goal and co-captain's Chris Drury's team-leading 27th of the season.

Stationed in front of the net, Drury redirected Nathan Paetsch's quick pointshot at 8:33 to give Buffalo the 2-0 lead and earned his fifth point (4+1) in the last five games in the process.

With a two-man advantage in Boston's favor, Glenn Murray rifled a one-timer shortside past Biron off an across-ice pass from Marc Savard to bring the Bruins within a goal with four minutes left in the opening period.

Then the floodgates opened.

Receiving a long pass through the neutral zone by Brian Cambpell, Briere broke into Boston's zone alone and faked to the left post before slipping the puck inside the right to score his 19th of the season and first of the night at 5:17 of the second. The goal extending his points streak to nine points (3+6) in only six games.

Paul Gaustad one-timed Derek Roy's pass from behind the goal line into the top-right corner of the net to give Buffalo the 4-1 lead just over a minute later.

Jason Pominville scored Buffalo's fifth shorthanded goal of the season on a two-on-one rush with five minutes remaining in the second and Briere scored his second two minutes later to give Buffalo the 6-1 lead by the second intermission.

Buffalo's other co-captain made it rain hats after collecting a loose puck at the right face-off dot and firing top shelf on Tim Thomas at 12:08 of the third. His first career three-goal game came against Tampa Bay on December 5 of this season.
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