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Sabres rout Flyers in playoff rematch, remain undefeated

Oct 18, 2006 - 1:44 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The Buffalo Sabres put the Philadelphia Flyers through a cruel bout of deja vu.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy both scored twice and Maxim Afinogenov had a goal and four assists as the Sabres obliterated the Flyers, 9-1, in the first matchup between the teams since last season's playoffs.

Chris Drury, Jiri Novotny and defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Henrik Tallinder also tallied for Buffalo (6-0-0), which is off to its best start since posting eight straight wins to begin the 1975-76 campaign.

"It's certainly the start that we wanted to get off to," Drury said. "Every team wants to get off to a start like this."

The Sabres have outscored their opponents by a staggering 54-21 margin this season.

"Right now, we've got ourselves on a roll," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I've often said that once you get on a roll, it breeds a lot of confidence. You don't think you'll lose."

Meanwhile, Philadelphia has lost five of its first six games, but none uglier than Tuesday's contest. Playing the Sabres for the first time since absorbing a 7-1 defeat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Flyers' effort actually may have been worse this time.

"Typical Philadelphia Flyers hockey game," center Mike Richards said. "We got behind the eight-ball, a little bit of pressure on us, and we folded."

After a scoreless first period, Philadelphia goaltender Robert Esche was torched for six goals on 12 shots in the middle session.

Vanek began the onslaught in the opening minute, knocking his own rebound past Esche, before Spacek and Drury added power-play goals 73 seconds apart for a 3-0 lead.

"It's a bunch of guys here, good chemistry," Vanek said. "I don't think anyone's got a big head."

Roy netted his first goal of the season at 14:56 of the middle session, combining with Vanek on a nifty give-and-go that left Esche totally out of position. Tallinder and Afinogenov added tallies less than one minute apart shortly thereafter as Buffalo went into the second intermission with a six-goal cushion.

Despite Esche's second-period struggles, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock sent his goaltender back out for the third period, when the Sabres tacked on three more goals to complete the rout.

"Whether I had a bad game, good game, great game, it doesn't matter," Esche said. "Our goal isn't to just show up and play well in games. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and we've got to get better in a hurry. That's all there is to it."

Afinogenov set up Roy at 1:46 of the final session and assisted on Vanek's goal roughly three minutes later. Those tallies were sandwiched around Novotny's second goal of the campaign, which came on a blistering wrist shot that Esche had no chance on.

Buffalo's offensive display overshadowed another steady performance by Ryan Miller, who turned aside 37 shots to pick up the victory. He lost his shutout bid early in the third period.

"We're playing good hockey," Miller said. "We're still learning about ourselves. ... We're just having fun with it, but it's a long season."

Jeff Carter netted the lone tally for the Flyers, who have managed just 12 goals over their first six games. They went 0-for-5 with the man advantage and are just 4-for-45 with the extra skater this season.

"It's totally embarrassing," Flyers captain Peter Forsberg said. "You can't blame the goalie. We gave up all kinds of odd-man rushes. We have a long way to go."