Lightning
Sabres
3 - 4 Final - OT
  for this game

Vanek's natural hat trick leads Sabres' comeback

Feb 21, 2008 - 5:07 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Maybe Thomas Vanek was galvanized by the historic comeback the Montreal Canadiens pulled off a night earlier. What ever it was, it was quite amazing.

Vanek recorded a natural hat trick, including the game-winner 2:25 into overtime as the Buffalo Sabres posted a stunning 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

Vanek, who has scored 12 goals in his last 11 games, tallied twice in the final 2:21 of the third period to forge a tie and netted the winner midway through the extra session to help the Sabres snap a two-game skid.

Vanek watched the Canadiens overcome a five-goal deficit to post a 6-5 shootout victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday. He said it taught him an important lesson.

"It's a funny game," Vanek said. "I was watching Montreal and the Rangers game last night, and Montreal had a great comeback. It shows you that you can't give up."

With just over 2 1/2 minutes left in overtime, Vanek - who recorded his first career hat trick on February 12 against Ottawa - one-timed a pass from defenseman Jaroslav Spacek under goaltender Johan Holmqvist's pad for a power-play goal that gave Buffalo its 10th win in its last 11 meetings with Tampa Bay.

"It feels great," Vanek said. "I've worked hard for this. I've waited a long time to get on a streak like this. It's finally coming. I'm hoping I can stay on top of my game from here on out."

"We took too many penalties," Holmqvist said. "They created some good scoring chances on their power play."

Tim Connolly collected three assists for the Sabres, who had been shut out until Derek Roy tallied 3:03 into the third to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Vaclav Prospal restored Tampa Bay's two-goal lead with 6:48 remaining. But Holmqvist, who had been terrific for 43-plus minutes, faltered and gave the Sabres new life.

Vanek deflected a slap shot by blue-liner Toni Lydman into the right side of the net to draw Buffalo within 3-2 with 2:21 left. The 24-year-old Austrian then tied the game as he one-timed a pass from Connolly by Holmqvist with 1:45 to go in the third.

Buffalo had been held to two goals in each of its previous three games before Vanek's outburst.

"We had that stretch before - the last three games, where we were scoring one, two goals maximum," Spacek said. "We know we can score goals. We pass a lot of opportunities. Today, we had those bounces at the end. All game long, we didn't have anything. We won the game in the end, that's the most important."

"This is why we're in the situation we're in in the standings," said Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, whose team is last in the Eastern Conference with 57 points. "It's been a weakness of ours all year long, other than the last little bit. We don't have that mental toughness to handle the situation. You can see our game change and we've lost major points, and that's why we're at where we're at here."

Ryan Miller stopped 22 shots for the Sabres, who outshot the Lightning, 46-25.

Chris Gratton and Brad Richards tallied and Holmqvist made 42 saves for Tampa Bay, which is 4-1-2 in its last seven.

"We've got to play sound defensively, and we accomplished that for the first two periods," said Gratton, who opened the scoring just over four minutes into the game. "We knew they weren't going to quit. They're in their own building. Once they got that first one, they got their fans back in it. (Holmqvist) played unbelievable for us. We hung him out to dry. We should have shored things up better."

"I just think we changed our play," Tortorella said. "You could see if we get a little tentative, but we get paralyzed, and to me, it's mental toughness. It's coming from our top people, and that's what's frustrating to me. We've been in these situations for years."








  • NHL
    FINAL IN OT 1ST 2ND 3RD OT TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 0 2 0 3
    BUFFALO 0 0 3 1 4 FINAL IN OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - CHRIS GRATTON 10 (FILIP KUBA, CRAIG MACDONALD) 4:02
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: TAM - BRAD RICHARDS 18 (JAN HLAVAC) 1:03
    BUF - DEREK ROY 22 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, TIM CONNOLLY)

    Feb 20 9:38 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 3
    BUFFALO 4
    OT: BUF - (PP) THOMAS VANEK 25 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, JASON
    POMINVILLE) 2:25

    Feb 20 9:36 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 3
    BUFFALO 4
    OT: BUF - (PP) THOMAS VANEK 25 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, JASON
    POMINVILLE) 2:25

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:36 PM
  • 154
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:34 PM
  • 149
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    RUWTbot Added 67 roots (Overtime)

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 3RD GOING INTO OT
    1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 0 2 3
    BUFFALO 0 0 3 3 GOING INTO OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - CHRIS GRATTON 10 (FILIP KUBA, CRAIG MACDONALD) 4:02
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: TAM - BRAD RICHARDS 18 (JAN HLAVAC) 1:03
    BUF - DEREK ROY 22 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, TIM CONNOLLY) 3:03
    TAM - VACLAV PROSPAL 28

    Feb 20 9:31 PM
  • 82
    roots
    millsythekiwi Added 5 roots

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:29 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 3
    BUFFALO 3
    3RD PRD: BUF - THOMAS VANEK 23 (TIM CONNOLLY, DEREK ROY) 18:15

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:26 PM
  • 77
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    RUWTbot Added 57 roots (Close Finish)

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:26 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 3
    BUFFALO 2
    3RD PRD: BUF - TIM CONNOLLY 6 (TONI LYDMAN, JAROSLAV SPACEK) 17:39

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:25 PM
  • 20
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    RUWTbot Added 15 roots (Close Finish)

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 3
    BUFFALO 1
    3RD PRD: TAM - VACLAV PROSPAL 28 (DAN BOYLE, VINCENT LECAVALIER) 13:12

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 9:17 PM
  • 5
    roots
    bouch Added 5 roots

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 8:57 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    BUFFALO 1
    3RD PRD: BUF - DEREK ROY 22 (JAROSLAV SPACEK, TIM CONNOLLY) 3:03

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 8:57 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 2
    BUFFALO 0
    3RD PRD: TAM - BRAD RICHARDS 18 (JAN HLAVAC) 1:03

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 8:53 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 0 1
    BUFFALO 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - CHRIS GRATTON 10 (FILIP KUBA, CRAIG MACDONALD) 4:02
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 5 9 14
    BUF 11 16 27
    GOALIES: TAM - J

    Feb 20 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TAM - CHRIS GRATTON 10 (FILIP KUBA, CRAIG MACDONALD) 4:02
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TAM 5 5
    BUF 11 11
    GOALIES: TAM - JOHAN HOLMQVIST

    Feb 20 7:40 PM


  • NHL
    TAMPA BAY 1
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: TAM - CHRIS GRATTON 10 (FILIP KUBA, CRAIG MACDONALD) 4:02

    Lightning vs. SabresFeb 20 7:15 PM