Vanek, Miller help Sabres edge Penguins

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) — Thomas Vanek picked up his NHL-leading
20th goal in the third period and Ryan Miller made 29 saves to
lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh
Penguins on Monday.

Derek Roy, Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille scored for the Sabres,
who have won two in a row after three straight losses. They
have won only four of their last 12 contests.

Tied at 3-3 and 6:13 remaining in the third, Jochen Hecht sent
the puck into the goal mouth where goaltender Dany Sabourin made
the initial save. But Jason Pominville circled behind the net,
grabbed a short rebound and fed an unmarked Vanek on the
doorstep for the game-winning goal.

“I saw it come around the rim first and I then went to the
backdoor and I saw (Pominville), and it was a great play by
(Pominville) to lay it in there,” Vanek said.

With the goal, Vanek moves past Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia
Flyers into sole possession of the league lead.

“I really don’t think about it too much,” Vanek said. “It’s not
important, more important is that we got the win here. We’ve
got to keep winning, that’s more important.”

Ruslan Fedotenko scored a pair of goals and defenseman Kris
Letang also tallied for Pittsburgh.

Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora had a pair of assists for the

Fedotenko opened the scoring at 9:37 of the first period when
Malkin showed off some flashy puck-handling. The All-Star
center took a pass from Sykora and faked out the defense by
sending the puck between his legs before feeding Fedotenko on
the doorstep.

“I’m just trying to shoot right away, don’t wait, and a lot of
times you catch the goalie facing in another direction,”
Fedotenko said. “The quicker you put the puck to the net, it
seems like the easier the goal will be.”

Roy’s tally tied the game before the combination of Fedotenko,
Malkin and Sykora hooked up again to put Pittsburgh on top, 2-1,
at the end of the first.

“We didn’t do a very good job early,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff
said. “We lost coverage. The main thing we talked about was
coverage on the Malkin line. It wasn’t very good, we let them
loose, we were a step behind them. We got caught a little in
the neutral zone on one goal and it cost us.”

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Letang’s power-play goal at the 91-second mark of the middle
session pushed it to 3-1 before the Sabres came scratching back.

Kotalik scored his seventh goal of the season at the 6:40 mark
of the second and Paille tied the game with 5:11 remaining in
the period when the Penguins failed to clear the puck. Paille
stole a short clearing attempt and put it in as Sabourin fell to
his back.

“At 3-1, we started to play horribly,” Pittsburgh coach Michel
Therrien. “It’s pretty simple. We weren’t playing bad until we
got the lead at 3-1. After that, we were horrible. We gave
them the game. We couldn’t get the puck out on the second goal.

“And on the third goal, we didn’t want to take the puck deep.
We turned the puck over in our own end. We had a hard time
staying on our feet. Like I said, it was a horrible
performance. That’s the truth.”

Miller made a number of big saves in the third, including one in
which he reached back and grabbed the puck with the webbing of
his glove just before it crossed the goal line.

“It doesn’t matter where we are, we have to focus on our game,”
Sabres defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said. “A 3-3 game, we have to
play smart and wait for them. At home they try to play

aggressive, they had a couple chances. Pittsburgh had a couple
chances early and then on the power play, but nothing really
5-on-5 (after the first).”

Sabourin made 25 saves for Pittsburgh, which has dropped two in
a row.

“Excuses are for losers,” Therrien said. “You can have excuses
– we are missing players, we’ve played a lot of games. As far
as I’m concerned, they should play for 60 minutes and they
aren’t playing for 60 minutes right now.”