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NOTEBOOK: VANEK ISN'T GIVING UP

Wednesday, 02.20.2008 / 11:04 PM / News
By Brian Wheeler  - Sabres.com
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NOTEBOOK: VANEK ISN\'T GIVING UP
Thomas Vanek (photo: Bill Wippert)
Dropping their last two games, the Buffalo Sabres badly needed two points coming into Wednesday's match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Through 43 minutes it looked as if the team's losing skid would extend to three but then one of their most talented players took over.

Thomas Vanek scored a pair of goals 36 seconds apart in the third period to tie the score and then redirected a Jaroslav Spacek pass for the game winner in overtime to elevate Buffalo to a 4-3 victory. 

The natural hat trick was the second of Vanek's career - coming four games after his first - and wiped out a solid performance by Johan Holmqvist, who had stifled Buffalo for much of the game by making 42 saves. 

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

This season hasn't been all roses for the third-year professional.  His slow start brought much criticism, some of the harshest being self inflicted.  But he's rebounded in the last 11 games by scoring 12 goals, including five in his last three.

"We need him," said head coach Lindy Ruff regarding Vanek, who along with linemate Derek Roy were the only two Sabres to register goals in the last three games.  "We need him to play, we need him to score, we need him to be the guy that makes the difference in games."

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Jason Pominville was the last Sabres player to scored three consecutive goals.  He did so against Los Angeles on January 14, 2006 in a 10-1 Buffalo victory.  Phoenix's Peter Mueller was the last player in the league to accomplish the feat (Feb. 5).

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Since the start of the 2005-06 season, no team has been able to erase a two-goal deficit with as much ease as the Buffalo Sabres or Carolina Hurricanes.  Each club has comeback to win 20 games when down by a pair during that span.

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An unknown Sabres fan in the 300 Level got a chuckle out of the media.  Five minutes into the game, this boisterous spectator yelled out the following phrase as Martin St. Louis carried the puck over the red line. 

"Hit him, he's tiny."

A nice change of pace from the usual shouts that can be heard.

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The Buffalo Sabres have a true world-wide following.  Fans from Toni Lydman's hometown of  Lahti, Finland and Krakow, Poland traveled from their respective countries just to attend Wednesday night's tilt.  The Kiekkoreipas '93's  out of Finland and Michael Nowak, a graduate student from the University of Krakow working on his dissertation, both attended their first NHL games in HSBC Arena.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82