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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

come.

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

attendance.

"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."

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."

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