Early outburst helps Sabres keep Blues struggling

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) — An early flurry of goals helped
the Buffalo Sabres snap a long home losing streak against the
St. Louis Blues.

Adam Mair, Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville scored less than
three minutes apart early in the first period Wednesday and the
Sabres held on for a 4-3 victory over the Blues.

Defenseman Henrik Tallinder also tallied and Ryan Miller made 30
saves for Buffalo, which recorded its first home victory over
St. Louis since October 22, 1995 – a span of nine games.

“I thought we came out really well in the game,” Sabres coach
Lindy Ruff said. “We did a lot of good things in tonight’s game
vs. what we did in Boston (on Saturday). That was probably the
most scoring chances we generated in one game, and we didn’t
really give up a lot.”

Just 22 seconds after Andrew Peters and David Koci were sent to
the penalty box for fighting, the Sabres got on the board at
2:46, when Mair unleashed a slap shot from the top of the slot
that sailed just under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead.

Connolly doubled the advantage at 4:55, deflecting Jochen
Hecht’s centering pass from the right side of the net past
goaltender Manny Legace. Connolly’s tip went between Legace’s
pads and bounced off the goalpost and a defender before entering
the net.

“I felt great going into the game, I’m just not stopping the
puck, it’s as simple as that,” Legace said. “I’m just not doing
the job. It’s no one’s fault but my own.”

Legace was pulled after Buffalo added a third goal – on its
seventh shot – just 23 seconds later. Connolly centered the
puck from behind the net to Pominville, who beat the veteran
netminder to the stick side with a wrist shot.

“Tonight was a night where we got a couple, but we easily could
have gotten a few more,” Pominville said. “We’ve had a tough
time finding the net, but we got two. We got going, and
hopefully we can help the team that way.”

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St. Louis got one back with 5:53 remaining in the first period,
when David Perron netted his first of the season, beating Miller
with a bad-angle shot from below the left faceoff circle.

The Blues cut the deficit to 3-2 at 3:27 of the second period.
Keith Tkachuk’s centering pass bounced in front of the net, and
rookie Patrik Berglund batted the puck on his backhand past

Tallinder made it a 4-2 game 3:34 into the third period before
Lee Stempniak pulled the Blues back within one with 11:52 left
to play. Perron recorded his second assist of the game on St.
Louis’ goal, setting up Stempniak right in front of the crease.

“Of course we want to build on this positive attitude, but I
think we still can play better,” said Tallinder, who also had an
assist. “We were a little bit up and down today. I think maybe
instead of playing 50 minutes, we can play 60 minutes. We need
to be solid all over for 60 minutes.”

With goaltender Chris Mason pulled for an extra attacker, the
Blues supplied heavy pressure in the final minute but could not
get the equalizer past Miller, extending their losing streak to
six games (0-5-1).

“It’s just unfortunate we could not come back and get the win,”
Perron said. “After the 3-0 (deficit), we just wanted to step
up and play better in the second and third (periods).”

Mason turned aside 24 shots after replacing Legace.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot to be encouraged about,” Blues
coach Andy Murray said. “We’ve played hard in all but one of
our games this year. We don’t have a lot of results to show for
it simply because we are hurting ourselves at the beginning of
games. You get down like that, you have to chase it all night.”