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Briere's Hat Trick Lifts Sabres to Win

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Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff knows the best way for the Sabres to hold on to the advantage of starting the season 10-0 is to avoid a losing streak. Even a two-game losing streak.

Daniel Briere had his first career hat trick and the Sabres beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Tuesday night. Buffalo has followed each of its six losses _ including one in overtime and one in a shootout _ with a victory.

``It was a game that we wanted to take a lot of pride in, in trying to win and stay away from losing two in a row,'' Ruff said.

The Sabres have not lost consecutive regular-season games since dropping six straight in March.

Briere scored two of his goals in a three-goal first period, and finished up his first hat trick in 429 career games from in-close with 7:39 left to play. He has 143 career goals, including 13 this season.

``When nights like this happen, it's just not about yourself,'' Briere said. ``I have to give my linemates a lot of credit because of the plays they made.''

In other NHL games, it was: Ottawa 4, the New York Islanders 2; Florida 3, Pittsburgh 2; Atlanta 5, Toronto 2; Detroit 5, St. Louis 1; Minnesota 3, Chicago 2; Calgary 3, Carolina 0; and Columbus 3, Colorado 0.

Buffalo also got a goal from Chris Drury, who has scored in four straight games.

Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the fourth consecutive game for the Lightning, losers of four in a row.

Drury's goal during a 3-on-1 came after Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller stopped an in-close chance by Brad Richards. Briere's second goal in the first was set up by Jochen Hecht, who stole the puck from Richards in the Lightning zone.

Briere acknowledged thinking about the hat trick after his second goal.

``I can't remember a time where I had two in the first period so early like that,'' Briere said. ``Fifty minutes to play with a chance to get it.''

Miller finished with 29 saves.

``The boys did a great job around me,'' Miller said. ``I got to see a lot of pucks, and they were making plays.''

Senators 4, Islanders 2

At Uniondale, N.Y., Dany Heatley scored twice and Jason Spezza had three points to lead Ottawa to its fifth straight win.

Spezza set up Heatley's first-period goal and defenseman Joe Corvo's power-play score in the second restored Ottawa's two-goal lead. Spezza netted his 13th goal late in the middle frame to make it 2-0.

Heatley added his 18th goal with 7:50 left to make it 4-2.

Ottawa won its fourth straight and for the eighth time in nine outings. Ottawa improved to 27-4 with eight ties against the Islanders since Feb. 12, 1996.

Panthers 3, Penguins 2

Olli Jokinen's first road goal of the season helped visiting Florida stop a six-game losing streak.

Minutes after Sidney Crosby tied the game at 2-2 in the third period with a highlight-reel goal for the Penguins, Jokinen's slap shot from above the right circle on a power play won it for Florida.

Jokinen and Gary Roberts each had a goal and an assist and Ruslan Salei had two assists in the Panthers' first victory since beating Boston 3-2 on Nov. 20.

Thrashers 5, Maple Leafs 2

Vyacheslav Kozlov scored two of Atlanta's five third-period goals, and the visiting Thrashers rallied for a season-high fifth straight win.

Marian Hossa scored his league-leading 21st goal. Glen Metropolit also scored and had two assists to help Atlanta rally after trailing 2-0.

Darcy Tucker and Michael Peca scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost five straight.

Wild 3, Blackhawks 2

Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the winning goal in a shootout and host Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak.

Brian Rolston and Todd White also scored for the Wild and goalie Manny Fernandez stopped 27 shots for his first victory since Nov. 11.

The loss ended Chicago's three-game winning streak and prevented Denis Savard from becoming the first Blackhawks coach to win his first four games.

Red Wings 5, Blues 1

Pavel Datsyuk got his first goal in 16 games and added an assist as visiting Detoit spoiled St. Louis' retirement of Brett Hull's jersey and handed the Blues their fifth straight loss.

The Red Wings had 10 shots on goal within the first 10 minutes of the game and 11 before the Blues took their first. The rare near-capacity crowd gave Keith Tkachuk a mock cheer after he took a lazy shot at the Detroit net with 8:08 left in the period for St. Louis' first shot.

Blue Jackets 3, Avalanche 0

Fredrik Norrena got his second straight shutout and Columbus won in Denver for the first time in franchise history. Norrena finished with 42 saves, including 21 in the second period.

Jason Chimera and Anson Carter staked Columbus to an early lead with goals within 2:38 of each other in the first period.

Fredrik Modin scored his seventh goal of the season with 4.3 seconds left in the second period.

Flames 3, Hurricanes 0

Miikka Kiprusoff made 23 saves and Daymond Langkow scored 28 seconds into the game for host Calgary.

Langkow's eighth goal of the year extended his point-scoring streak to six games and helped the Flames win their third straight overall and eighth in a row at home.
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