BOSTON (AP) — Thomas Vanek had three goals and two assists, setting up the tiebreaking score with 13:06 left in the third period, to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 7-4 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Vanek opened the scoring 98 seconds into the game, then had a goal and an assist to tie it after Boston took a 3-1 lead in the second. The Bruins went up 4-3 in the third before Alexander Sulzer tied it on a wrister from the faceoff circle, and then Vanek helped give Buffalo the lead when he kept the puck in the zone, faked a shot and slid it over to Cody Hodgson for the game-winner.
Ryan Miller made 38 saves for Buffalo, which ended a four-game winless streak. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots for the Bruins.
Vanek picked up his eight career hat trick with 1:31 left to play. And he was trailing the play — but did not get an assist — when Jason Pominville skated in for the empty-netter with 14 seconds left to clinch it.
Vanek, who entered the game tied for sixth in scoring in the league, now has 54 points in 46 career games against the Bruins.
Brad Marchand scored two goals and Rich Peverley and David Krejci had one apiece for Boston, which had points in its first six games since Bobby Orr led the Bruins to a 5-0-1 mark in 1970-71. A win would have equaled the best start in franchise history.
Vanek gave the Sabres the lead after a scoreless first period, but Boston came back with three straight goals to open a 3-1 lead. The Sabres tied it again, thanks in part to a 5-on-3 power play when Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic were both sent off for penalties.
Midway through the two-man advantage, Vanek deflected a pass from Christian Ehrhoff into the net. Ninety-three seconds later, Vanek was posted up in front of the net when he was flattened by Boston’s Andrew Ference; even as Vanek was falling to the ice, he managed to pass the puck across the slot to Tyler Ennis for the tying goal.
Krejci gave Boston the lead early in the third, but Sulzer tied it 4-4 less than a minute later and Hodgson added the go-ahead goal with 13 minutes left.
Notes: As part of their efforts to apologize to the fans for the lockout of the players, the Bruins gave away 134,000 concession items during home games in January, three per fan per game. That included 36,111 fountain sodas, 27,364 hot dogs and 19,472 boxes of popcorn. … Lane MacDermid, a fourth-round pick in 2009, made his season debut tonight. He took the place of Chris Bourque, who was a healthy scratch. … Bruins forward Shawn Thornton left the game after a first-period fight with John Scott and did not return.