for this game

Gaustad, Vanek help Sabres cruise past Lightning

Nov 21, 2006 - 2:55 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Whatever Lindy Ruff told his team during the first intermission, it worked.

Paul Gaustad and Thomas Vanek scored two of the Buffalo Sabres' season-high seven goals during the second period en route to a comfortable 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sabres actually trailed, 1-0, after the first period before erupting in the middle session.

"We talked (during the intermission) about not passing up those opportunities," Ruff said. "(We said) 'Let's get more pucks to the net.'"

Gaustad forged a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal at 1:14 and defenseman Jiri Novotny gave Buffalo the lead for good just over a minute later with a blast from the left point.

Vanek got into the act at 7:48, beating goaltender Marc Denis on a bad angle, before Gaustad added a beautiful goal on a feed from defenseman Dmitri Kalinin. Blue-liner Jaroslav Spacek tallied 24 seconds later to make it 5-1.

"We don't look to two or three guys," Vanek said. "We're a 20-man team and that's going to continue being like that for the rest of the season."

Vanek capitalized on a horrible turnover to score a power-play goal - his 12th tally of the season - at 14:02 of the middle session. Chris Drury scored just over three minutes later to complete the stunning uprising.

Perhaps the deepest team in the NHL, the Sabres got points from 14 of their 18 skaters in winning for the 17th time in 21 games this season.

"We've been a very good team when it comes to the depth and the people who can win hockey games for us," Ruff said.

Ales Kotalik had three assists for Buffalo, which was coming off a 4-1 defeat to Ottawa on Saturday but still has not lost back-to-back games all season.

"We said we don't want to lose two games in a row," Gaustad said. "That's a motto we stick to and something we take very seriously in this locker room. Any time we face two losses in a row, we definitely try to step up. It was very big for us because we didn't play very well in Ottawa."

Denis made just 22 saves, turning aside only six of the 13 shots he faced in the second period. He has allowed 16 goals in his last three games.

"The feeling's awful," he admitted. "I've been through one-sided games in my career but I don't know if I fished the puck out of net seven times in such a short span."

Martin St. Louis was Tampa Bay's lone bright spot, but even his offense could not prevent the Lightning from losing for the third time in their last four games.

"(A rout) happens to everybody and it's going to happen again," St. Louis said. "You can't fold and feel sorry for yourself. You have to prepare for the next one."

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