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Vanek, Pominville power Sabres to win over Ducks in season opener

Oct 8, 2011 - 4:49 AM
Helsinki, Finland (Sports Network) - Thomas Vanek scored two goals and added an assist, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a convincing 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks in the season opener for both teams from Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland.

Finland native Ville Leino chipped in with a goal in his homecoming and newly- appointed captain Jason Pominville scored and had two assists for the Sabres.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced.

"We came out hard and played our system the way we wanted to," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "We got into some trouble there in the second period, but we we're able to get things going our way again."

Nate Guenin scored the lone goal for Anaheim, while hometown heroes Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu were a combined minus-two for the Ducks.

Jonas Hiller made 21 saves on 25 shots in his first game action since missing most of the second half of last season with vertigo-like symptoms.

"It's a tough way for us to open the season," said Selanne. "We've been enjoying our time here, but we didn't enjoy the result tonight."

Buffalo struck early in the first period after a hooking penalty on Koivu sent the Sabres to a power play. With the extra man, Vanek parked himself in front of the net and stuck a rebound home at 4:02.

Just over four minutes later, Buffalo lit the lamp again when Leino took a pass in the slot from Andrej Sekera and chipped it over the left shoulder of Hiller.

The Ducks got on the board at the 4:32 mark of the second stanza, when Guenin wristed what looked like a harmless shot from the right point. The puck deflected off bodies in front and then off the arm of Miller before finding the back of the net to pull Anaheim within one.

Pominville answered just over a minute later when he found the puck in the slot with his back to the net, spun around and fired it through the five-hole of Hiller for a 3-1 advantage.

Vanek was credited with his second power-play goal of the contest when he accepted a pass in the slot from Christian Ehrhoff. His point-blank shot was stopped by Hiller and the puck slid away and went off Vanek's stick as he tried to get off another shot. The puck was eventually kicked in by Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, giving the Sabres the comfortable 4-1 margin.

Trailing by three in the third, Anaheim wasted a golden opportunity to get closer when they were handed a two-man advantage for 44 seconds.

Anaheim had another chance to get back in the game when Ehrhoff was sent to the box at the 13:27 mark of the third, but the Ducks were again unable to capitalize.

Game Notes

Friday marks Miller's 400th NHL game...Ruff is 8-5-1 in season openers as Buffalo's head coach...Anaheim has lost five straight season openers, the longest active streak in the league...It was Guenin's first career NHL goal...Anaheim went 0-for-5 on the power play, while Buffalo finished 2-for-4 with the man advantage...On Saturday, the Sabres will face the Los Angeles Kings in Berlin, while Anaheim will travel to Stockholm to face the New York Rangers.