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Toronto at Buffalo

Vanek nets natural hat trick, Sabres shut out Maple Leafs in rout

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas Vanek and the Buffalo Sabres certainly didn't look travel weary on Wednesday.

A day following a cross-country flight from Anaheim, Vanek scored a natural hat trick and Ryan Miller stopped all 16 shots in leading the Sabres to a 5-0 win against the overwhelmed and lifeless Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We knew we were maybe physically not in top shape, but I thought we skated well," said Vanek, who upped his team-leading total to 32 goals. "We played smart and got the early lead, and that really helped us."

Vanek, who also added an assist, registered the fifth three-goal game of his career and first this season. It was also Vanek's fourth consecutive natural hat trick, matching an NHL record set by Cy Denneny between 1923 and 1924 with the old Ottawa Senators.

Home sweet home, said Miller, noting the Sabres played their first game in Buffalo in nearly three weeks following a six-game road trip that spanned the NHL All-Star break.

"We had good energy tonight, a lot of guys are happy to be home," said Miller, who was relatively untested in registering his second straight shutout. "The boys looked really sharp. They should be proud of managing the game for 60 minutes."

Miller, who stopped 28 shots in a 2-0 win at Phoenix on Saturday, hasn't allowed a goal in a span of 126:52, dating to a 5-2 loss at Calgary on Jan. 28.

Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly each had a goal and an assist.

The Maple Leafs were outshot 32-16 while showing no spark. They still appeared stunned after squandering a two-goal third-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to Florida on Tuesday.

"We let one slip away last night," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. "We had a chance to redeem ourselves. We were flat all game."

Stajan was the only Toronto player to get the puck behind Miller, scoring midway through the third period. But, as the Leafs' fortunes went, the goal was disallowed when Stajan was issued an interference penalty for knocking down Ales Kotalik while breaking to the net.

"This wasn't one of our better efforts to say the least," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "We weren't ready tonight."

The Sabres, by comparison, were on top of their game after going 3-3 on their road trip.

Stafford's goal, which gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead 13 minutes into the first period, was the turning point, lifting his teammates and demoralizing the Maple Leafs.

Accepting Clarke MacArthur's drop pass inside the Toronto blue line, Stafford faked driving inside and neatly backhanded the puck through his legs without breaking stride to fool defenseman Mike Van Ryn.

Stafford then drove to the net and snapped a shot inside the far right post. While Stafford celebrated, Van Ryn smashed his stick across the crossbar in frustration.

"I got lucky. If I screwed that up, I probably would've heard about it from Lindy," Stafford said, referring to coach Lindy Ruff.

With a smile, Ruff said he probably would've let Stafford hear about it.

"It was a timely goal and a great goal, a heck of a move," Ruff said. "Any time you pull off a move like that, those are special moves and it doesn't happen very often."

Vanek sealed the win by scoring the final three goals, two on the power play.

Justin Pogge started after being recalled from the minors. The 2004 third-round draft pick is considered Toronto's goalie of the future and made his third NHL appearance this season. Pogge, who gave up six goals on 21 shots against Minnesota last week, was not to blame for this one.

He received little support from a flat-footed defense and a disinterested offense that managed nine shots through two periods.

"I'm not enjoying it too much," Pogge said of his first taste of playing in the NHL. "We just couldn't get anything going."

Notes

  • Sabres RW Jason Pominville had two assists, giving him 12 assists -- but no goals -- in his past 14 games.
  • Maple Leafs forward Jeremy Williams was activated off IR and played against Buffalo after missing 14 games with a shoulder injury.
  • Sabres D Teppo Numminen returned after missing six games with a broken jaw.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Thomas Vanek (26) scores three straight goals (natural hat trick) for the fourth time in his career. (AP)
Thomas Vanek (26) scores three straight goals (natural hat trick) for the fourth time in his career. (AP)

Related Links
 
Scoreboard
Toronto (19-24-9)0000
Buffalo  (27-20-5) «2125
Three Stars
T. Vanek
BUF


Goals: 3
Assist(s): 1
R. Miller
BUF


Saves: 16
Save Pct.: 1.000
D. Stafford
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:23Tim Connolly (10), Tip-In. Assist: Rivet, Vanek
12:52Drew Stafford (14), Snap Shot. Assist: MacArthur, Numminen
2ND PERIOD
02:37Power Play - Thomas Vanek (30), Tip-In. Assist: Connolly, Pominville
3RD PERIOD
05:36Thomas Vanek (31), Slap Shot. Assist: Stafford
09:13Power Play - Thomas Vanek (32), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pominville, Kotalik
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
07:57Schenn, 2 min, Hooking
11:04Butler, 2 min, Hooking
11:04Mitchell, 2 min, Roughing
13:18Rivet, 2 min, Hooking
14:54Moore, 2 min, Holding
18:50Ponikarovsky, 2 min, Interference
2ND PERIOD
01:31Kulemin, 2 min, Hooking
03:21May, 2 min, Charging
08:47Kubina, 2 min, Closing Hand on Puck
11:25Paille, 2 min, Holding
15:24Kubina, 2 min, Cross-Checking
3RD PERIOD
08:31White, 2 min, High-Sticking
09:03Stajan, 2 min, Interference
12:13Stajan, 2 min, Interference
12:13Kaleta, 2 min, Diving/Embellishment
15:14Weber, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Toronto54716
Buffalo1212832
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Justin Pogge59:52275
Ryan Miller60:00160
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Toronto0-for-3
Buffalo2-for-9
Game Information
Attendance - 17355
Referees - Rob Martell, Dan O'Halloran
Linesmen - Scott Driscoll, Steve Miller
 
Other Games
Pho 4 Final
Det 5
Bos 3 Final
Phi 1
Ana 0 Final
Min 3
TB 3 Final
OT
Pitt 4