by Brian Wheeler
When Thomas Vanek
looks at the 2005-06 statistics, the rookie will be content for now with the zero he sees next to his name in the column titled goals.
With Buffalo's third and final attempt in the Sabres first shootout in franchise history, Vanek found the back of the net to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night.
"(The win) is a lot more important than my stats," said Vanek following the game. "The goals are going to come and it's just a matter of time.
"(The shootout) was exciting but I think we just wanted to get a road win."
Vanek, who was credited with two assists in the game, earned Buffalo the extra point in the standings with his efforts. The Sabres now hold a record of 4-1-0 and have registered eight points in the team's first five contests.
"We just never quite," said Vanek. "We worked hard for 60 minutes and that paid off in the end."
Daniel Briere scored in the Sabres first shootout attempt, raking the puck back and forth before snapping a wrist shot high over Tampa Bay goaltender John Grahame. Ryan Miller
, who made 32 saves in his fifth start of the season, stuffed Martin St. Louis' shot on Tampa Bay's subsequent attempt.
Tim Connolly and Brad Richards both lost control in their respective team's second attempts.
Vanek ended the game after faking a slap shot and sliding the puck under a sliding Grahame.
Maxim Afinogenov tied the game 3-3 at 11:13 in the third period; deflecting Toni Lydman's shot for his fourth goal of the season.
Paul Gaustad scored for the second consecutive game at 10:16 in the second. The hard-working rookie one-timed a rebound high over Grahame after causing a turnover with a tough check on Pavel Kubina behind Tampa Bay's net.
Briere scored the first goal of the game at 5:15 of the first after collecting a loose puck in the corner and driving to the net.
The Sabres' power-play unit failed to capitalize on nine opportunities including a five-on-three man advantage in overtime.
"It's early in the season and we will have to work on (our power play)," said Vanek. "Usually, we will have to capitalize on (the two-man advantage) but we got two points and that's all that matters."
Buffalo will next meet the Florida Panthers at the Office Depot Center on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM.
--------------------------------------- SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG: Period 1
1-0 (5:15): Daniel Briere collects the puck in the corner, charges the net and beats Tampa Bay goaltender John Grahame for his third goal of the season. Thomas Vanek
took out two Tampa Bay defensemen causing the turnover in the Lightning's zone that allowed the clear path for Briere. Vanek is credited his third assist of the season.
1-1 (8:14): Henrik Tallinder saves a goal by sweeping away a trickling puck that was headed for the twine, but his clearing shot ended up on the stick of Brad Richards who fires a shot by Ryan Miller
for the Lightning's first goal. Period 2
1-2 (1:24): Vincent Lecavalier punches a rebound off the Darryl Sydor shot from the point past Miller for his second of the season. Sydor and Timo Helbling record their first assists of the season. Miller has now allowed two goals off 15 shots.
2-2 (10:16): Paul Gaustad one-times a rebound high over Grahame for his second goal of the year and career. Gaustad checked Pavel Kubina behind the Lightning's net, causing a turnover in Tampa's zone. The loose puck was controlled by Dmitri Kalinin, who passed out to Taylor Pyatt for the shot. Gaustad had camped in front of Grahame waiting for the deflection. Pyatt and Kalinin get the helpers.
2-3 (13:51): Vaclav Prospal scores after Lecavalier knocks Miller into Buffalo's net. The delayed penalty that was being called on Buffalo for interfering with Lecavalier on the rush was wiped away with the goal. Ruslan Fedotenko and Cory Sarich record the assists.
3-3 (11:13): Maxim Afinogenov ties the game just after Tampa Bay comes back to full strength with only 8:47 remaining in regulation. Toni Lydman threw a shot towards the net that took a wicked hop that deflected off Afinogenov past Grahame. Lydman and Thomas Vanek
each are credited with their fourth assist of the season. Vanek now has two assists in the game.
3-3 (): Martin St. Louis is robbed by Miller just feet in front of the Buffalo net. With play heading the other direction, the Hart Trophy winner was called for tripping giving the Sabres the man-advantage in the extra period. Less than a minute later, Dave Andreychuk is whistled for holding giving Buffalo the 5-3 advantage.
Shootout: Thomas Vanek
scored on Buffalo's third and final shootout attempt to give Buffalo the 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night. Vanek faked a slapshot and slide the puck under a diving John Grahame for the win. Daniel Briere scores with Buffalo's first attempt, raking the puck back and forth before snapping a writst shot high. Ryan Miller
held the Lightning scoreless in the shootout.