<
>

Sabres extend winning streak to six straight over Bruins

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Daniel Briere shrugged his shoulders when
informed his eight-game scoring streak came to an end.

It was no big deal because the Buffalo Sabres got plenty of
production from other players Sunday night in a 6-2 victory over
Boston that extended their winning streak to six games.

"That's why we're a good team," Briere said. "We keep finding
ways to win and there's no doubt it doesn't matter who scores. ...
The depth of our team is what makes the difference and it showed
tonight."

Thomas Vanek scored twice and set up another for Buffalo, which
beat Boston for the sixth straight time this season. Maxim
Afinogenov, who scored on a penalty shot, and Ales Kotalik had a
goal and two assists each while Tim Connolly and Derek Roy also
scored for a Sabres team that's 13-1-2 in its last 16.

Martin Biron stopped 37 shots in helping Buffalo stay two points
behind Northeast Division-leading Ottawa, which defeated Washington
earlier in the day.

Buffalo has outscored its opponents 32-18 in their last six.

What might be more frightening for NHL opponents is the Sabres
are suddenly playing with their healthiest lineup after welcoming
back Briere, Connolly and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, all of whom
missed extended stretches prior to last month's Olympic break.

"You should ask other teams how scary that is," Kotalik said.
"For us it's just fun, a great feeling to have."

Bruins coach Mike Sullivan wasn't left with any doubts about how
good Buffalo is playing.

"They're one of the best teams in the league right now,"
Sullivan said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence right now
and are one of the hottest teams."

Andrew Alberts, with his first career goal, and Brad Boyes
scored for the Bruins, who have lost five straight and dropped to
1-7-1 in their last nine. The losing streak matches Boston's
longest of the season. The Bruins (25-30-10) also reached 30 loses
in a season for the first time since 2000-01.

"It's crunch time and we have to go," defenseman Hal Gill
said. "The effort that was there just wasn't good enough at all."

Afinogenov broke the game open in the first period, first
helping set up Roy's game-opening goal and then converting the
first penalty-shot attempt of his career at the 14:20 mark.

Afinogenov was awarded the penalty shot when he was tripped from
behind by Gill after being set up by Vanek's perfectly timed
breakout pass. Afinogenov scored when, dragging the puck on his
forehand, he snapped a shot through Andrew Raycroft's legs to give
Buffalo a 2-0 lead.

The Sabres eventually built a 4-0 lead when Connolly snapped a
shot in from the right circle to convert a 5-on-3 power play 15
minutes into the second period.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff noted the compliment Flyers goalie
Antero Niittymaki paid Buffalo's balanced attack following their
6-5 win at Philadelphia on Saturday.

"He said he really felt we had four No. 1 lines. And that
really sums up the way our team plays," Ruff said. "We're really
preaching the team concept, that as a team we could be one of the
toughest opponents in the league.

Ruff spoke on the day The Buffalo News reported the coach's
11-year-old daughter, Madeleine, was diagnosed with having an
unidentified mass on her brain. Ruff told the newspaper that he is
awaiting further tests after the mass, about the size of a quarter,
was discovered Friday during tests at Buffalo Women and Children's
Hospital.

The Sabres confirmed the news but said Ruff would not comment
following the game.

In one corner of the arena, a fan pasted a sign that read: "God
Bless, Madeleine."

Game notes
Raycroft has allowed four goals on four penalty shots in
his career, including allowing Los Angeles' Alexander Frolov to
score in a 6-0 loss Jan. 12. ... The Sabres have scored goals on
their last four penalty shots, including Vanek's goal in a 3-2
overtime win over Anaheim on Dec. 8. ... Roy has seven goals in his
last six games, equaling the number he had in his first 44 games
this season.