Stafford nets hat trick as Sabres drill Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) — Drew Stafford scored 10 seconds
into the contest. The goal served as a harbinger of things to

Stafford notched his second career hat trick as the Buffalo
Sabres recorded their highest scoring output of the season
Tuesday with a 10-2 triumph over the Edmonton Oilers.

The 23-year-old admitted he was nervous as his uncle was in

“It was pretty ironic. I was pretty nervous before the game,”
Stafford said. “You don’t get too hyped up and look into things
too much, but this one was special for me.

“It was my first time here playing in front of my uncle seeing
me live. Growing up and hanging out with him and that team, it
was pretty special, pretty unique.”

Tim Connolly registered two goals and an assist, All-Star Thomas
Vanek and Derek Roy both scored and set up a pair of goals and
former Edmonton defenseman Jaroslav Spacek also tallied for
Buffalo, which improved to 4-1-0 in its last five games.

Former Oiler Jochen Hecht and blue-liner Nathan Paetsch each
recorded a goal and an assist while Jason Pominville, Ales
Kotalik, Clarke MacArthur and captain Craig Rivet notched two
assists apiece for the Sabres.

“It’s awesome, it’s been my dream all along,” Paetsch said. “I
was a kid growing up here and it was my dream to come and play
here. To have the game we had here tonight, it meant a lot.”

“I like their team, I like the speed they have, and it was one
of those nights where we caught them flat,” Buffalo coach Lindy
Ruff said. “I’ve been behind the bench on a team where you have
a night like that, and it’s tough. The harder they tried, it
seemed like the worse it was getting.”

Ryan Miller made 35 saves to post career victory No. 134, moving
him into a tie with Martin Biron for third place on the
franchise list.

Robert Nilsson registered a goal and an assist and Erik Cole
netted a power-play tally for Edmonton, which saw its three-game
winning streak come to an end.

“It started early and kept on coming,” Oilers coach Craig
MacTavish said. “We had three periods of it. It’s
disappointing. There’s not much I can add in terms of criticism
of the team or criticism of myself. There’s no point in heaping
anything further on tonight. It will all be about how we
respond to this.”

“It was frustrating and embarrassing right from the beginning of
the game,” Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert said. “We obviously
weren’t ready to play. If you are not ready to execute, a team
like this is going to expose you in every aspect of the game,
and that’s exactly what happened to us tonight.”

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Dwayne Roloson turned aside five of eight shots before he was
relieved by Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers midway through the first
period. The rookie did not fare any better, allowing seven
goals on 29 shots.

“It’s not a game you are going to blame on the goalies,”
MacTavish said. “They were as bad as everybody else. But when
you lose a game, 10-2, you are all painted by the same brush.”

Stafford set the tone early by receiving a pass from Vanek and
wristing the puck past Roloson just 10 seconds into the contest.

“I didn’t even look over there once,” Stafford said after he
scored so quickly. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I
didn’t look at the bench at all. I was kind of nervous at
first, but it makes things easy when you get one right away.”

“It’s hard when you’re the home team and you get an early one
scored against you. You’ve got to pick yourself up right away,”
Ruff said. “I think even worse than that, we got the second one
right away, and that digs an even bigger hole and it takes the
fans right out of the game.”

Paetsch doubled Buffalo’s advantage just 61 seconds later and
Roy netted his 19th goal of the season midway through the first
period to give the Sabres both a 3-0 advantage and end the
evening for Roloson.

Drouin-Deslauriers relieved Roloson, but the Sabres were just
getting started.

After Hecht gave Buffalo a four-goal advantage just 2:02 into
the second period, Cole netted a power-play tally 4 1/2 minutes
later to breathe some life into Rexall Place.

Connolly quieted the crowd 56 seconds later with a power-play
goal, Vanek added his team-leading 29th tally and Spacek also
scored with the man advantage with 61 seconds left in the
session to give the Sabres a 7-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Stafford scored twice in a 78-second span midway through the
third to cap his second career hat trick. He registered three
goals and two assists in a 10-1 trouncing of the Atlanta
Thrashers on January 18, 2008.

For Edmonton, the loss brought back memories of its 9-2 drubbing
at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on December 16.

“We didn’t think that this could happen to us again, especially
the way that we were playing of late,” Oilers defenseman Steve
Staios said.

“Hopefully, the experience we have from trying to shake it off
last time is the way to do it because we started playing better
and got ourselves into a playoff position. You can’t sugar-coat
how tough a night it was, but we have to put this behind us
quickly and move on.”