Vanek's hat trick rallies Sabres past Bruins

Matt Kalman  - NHL.com Correspondent | Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 11:10 PM

BOSTON – One of the hottest players in the NHL lit up TD Garden on Thursday night to snap his team out of a cold spell.

Thomas Vanek scored a hat trick and added two assists for his second five-point game of the season to lead the Sabres to a 7-4 win against the Boston Bruins and snap Buffalo's four-game winless streak.

Boston lost in regulation for the first time this season.

The victory was Buffalo's first in Boston since March 10, 2011. Vanek now has six goals (good for second in the League) and none assists for 15 points in just six games this season. He has eight career hat tricks overall and 54 points (28 goals) in 46 career games against the Bruins.

"I don't know. Statistics, you know?" Vanek said about success against Boston. "You can call them what you want, but they're just that. For us it's a big win."

The Sabres were down 3-1 at one point in the second period and trailed 4-3 early in the third. Considering the Bruins had won their previous 43 games that they held a two-goal lead dating back to April 4, 2011, things looked bleak for the Sabres.

However, Buffalo battled back.

Cody Hodgson put Buffalo ahead to stay when he scored at 6:54 of the third on a one-timer at the end of a 2-on-1 with Vanek for a 5-4 lead. Vanek then extended the Sabres' lead to 6-4 by scoring his third goal of the night with just 1:31 remaining. Jason Pominville added an empty-net goal.

"I think team toughness is when you get down by two, you don't hang your head, you don't pout, you just keep playing your game, and I think we did that today," Vanek said.

Ryan Miller finished with 38 saves for Buffalo. Tuukka Rask stopped just 25 of 31 shots he faced for the Bruins, who are generally known for their stingy defense.

"We gave up a lot of odd-man rushes, and then those 2-on-1s, just a quick pass to the back door and one-timers in," Rask said. "Obviously, we have to get better on that. Too many times, I think, we just let those guys stand in front of the net by themselves. The puck watching, it's not like us, so we just got to fix that."

After a scoreless first period, both teams' offense erupted in the second, led by Boston's Brad Marchand and Vanek. The Buffalo forward kicked things off at 1:38 with a one-timer from the left hash mark at the end of a 2-on-1 with Hodgson. The Bruins scored the next three goals, starting with Rich Peverley's first score of the season 5:12 into the second and then goals by Marchand at 7:43 and 10:54.

Before the period was over, however, Buffalo had tied the score at 3-3. Vanek cashed in during a 5-on-3 power play and Tyler Ennis tied the game off a feed from Vanek, who was falling down as he made the pass to the front of the net.

David Krejci opened the third-period at 1:45 in to give Boston the lead, but Alexander Sulzer scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at 2:28. Then Vanek went to work setting up Hodgson for the game-winner and scoring the insurance goal.

"I can't deny that," Vanek said when asked if he's currently playing his best hockey. "Pucks are going in right now for me, and with Pominville, I've always had good chemistry, and Cody fits right in. Again, there's going to be stretches where nothing goes, so you like it right now, but eventually it's going to hit the other way. So you just leave the game here today, and it's a new day tomorrow."

While there was no scoring in the first period, the expected physical fireworks went off just 2:53 into the contest when Boston's Shawn Thornton and Buffalo's John Scott dropped the gloves. Scott, playing in his first Boston-Buffalo showdown, landed a couple of blows before Thornton fell to end the brief bout. Thornton left the game and did not return. There was no update on his condition available after the game.

"I think it's what happens. It's a square-off of two tough guys in the building," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Somebody said they were talking in warmup. I didn't really anticipate what was going to happen. John has provided us some team toughness and it's spilled off onto other guys. He did a nice job for us. I thought the rest of the game was just a hard-fought game."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
2nd Period
01:38BUF Thomas Vanek (4) ASST: Cody Hodgson (1), Jason Pominville (6) 1 - 0 BUF
05:12BOS Rich Peverley (1) ASST: Daniel Paille (2), Chris Kelly (2) 1 - 1 Tie
07:43BOS Brad Marchand (4) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (3) 2 - 1 BOS
10:54BOS Brad Marchand (5) ASST: Patrice Bergeron (4), Tyler Seguin (3) 3 - 1 BOS
16:46BUF PPG - Thomas Vanek (5) ASST: Christian Ehrhoff (5), Tyler Ennis (3) 3 - 2 BOS
18:19BUF Tyler Ennis (2) ASST: Thomas Vanek (8), Marcus Foligno (3) 3 - 3 Tie
3rd Period
01:45BOS David Krejci (2) ASST: Nathan Horton (3) 4 - 3 BOS
02:28BUF Alexander Sulzer (1) ASST: Mikhail Grigorenko (1), Jochen Hecht (1) 4 - 4 Tie
06:54BUF Cody Hodgson (4) ASST: Thomas Vanek (9), Jason Pominville (7) 5 - 4 BUF
18:29BUF Thomas Vanek (6) ASST: Cody Hodgson (2), Mike Weber (2) 6 - 4 BUF
19:46BUF EN - Jason Pominville (5) ASST: NONE 7 - 4 BUF
Three Stars of the Game
Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek
G: 3Shots: 4
A: 2Hits: 0
PTS: 5PIM: 0
+/-: 4TOI: 19:21
Brad Marchand
Brad Marchand
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: -1TOI: 16:32
Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
SA: 42TOI: 59:56
GA: 4EV: 30-34
PIM: 0PP: 8-8
SV%: .905SH: 0-0
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:53BOS Shawn Thornton  Fighting (maj) against  John Scott
02:53BUF John Scott  Fighting (maj) against  Shawn Thornton
08:29BUF Jordan Leopold  Slashing against  Nathan Horton
15:36BUF John Scott  Elbowing against  Rich Peverley
2nd Period
05:32BOS Rich Peverley  Cross checking against  Jochen Hecht
15:45BOS Milan Lucic  Boarding against  Tyler Myers
15:45BOS Zdeno Chara  Holding against  Thomas Vanek
3rd Period
11:25BUF Tyler Myers  Hi stick - double minor against  Daniel Paille
11:56BOS Dennis Seidenberg  Tripping against  Marcus Foligno
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/30/4
Faceoff Wins2736
Blocked Shots248
Penalty Minutes1313
3J. LeopoldD00-12215:55
6M. WeberD0120021:23
9S. OttC00-11019:44
10C. EhrhoffD0122024:18
19C. HodgsonC1203018:35
21D. StaffordR00-22017:15
25M. GrigorenkoC010208:57
26T. VanekL3244019:21
29J. PominvilleR1225023:08
32J. ScottL000174:28
37M. EllisL000007:33
42N. GerbeC000006:41
44A. SekeraD0010021:21
52A. SulzerD1011017:33
55J. HechtC0123015:32
57T. MyersD00-11416:08
63T. EnnisC1113019:02
82M. FolignoL0102015:10
30R. Miller3842.90559:56
11G. CampbellC00-22010:57
17M. LucicL00-24221:38
18N. HortonR01-13021:09
19T. SeguinC0113019:17
20D. PailleL0102014:14
21A. FerenceD0011019:11
22S. ThorntonL000050:16
23C. KellyC01-10014:12
27D. HamiltonD00-23020:28
33Z. CharaD00-34225:19
37P. BergeronC0215018:29
44D. SeidenbergD00-10219:40
46D. KrejciC10-12021:33
49R. PeverleyC10-16215:11
54A. McQuaidD0010013:39
55J. BoychukD0003018:13
63B. MarchandL20-14016:32
64L. MacDermidL000004:12
40T. Rask2531.80658:49