Sabres improve to 9-0; Stars, Thrashers extend strong starts

Tuesday, October 24th 2006, 8:49 am
By: News On 6

MONTREAL (AP) _ Several teams are off to franchise-best starts. Only the Buffalo Sabres are closing in on the league record of 10 consecutive wins to start a season.

Chris Drury got his 10th goal in helping Buffalo set a new team mark, extending its season-opening win streak to nine games Monday night with a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Sabres topped their previous record of eight, set in 1975-76, and moved within one of tying Toronto's league record set at the start of the 1993-94 season.

``We're trying to have fun, that's the main thing,'' Sabres goalie Miller said. ``It's early in the season and we know from last year how much things can change. We had a decent start and then we had to really put together a good stretch to build our game and be a playoff team. I'll put a dollar on it right now that we don't win 82 games.''

To keep other best starts going, Dallas (8-1-0) beat Vancouver 2-1 and Atlanta (7-1-1) defeated Florida 6-3. In other games, it was: San Jose 3, Columbus 0; Colorado 6, Los Angeles 1; and Edmonton 5, Phoenix 2.

Ryan Miller made 26 saves for the Sabres, losing a bid for his first shutout of the season on Mike Johnson's goal 9:06 into the third.

Drury, who had two points to tie Maxim Afinogenov for the team lead with 14, assisted on Jiri Novotny's goal midway through the first before scoring his seventh goal in five games midway through the second _ an unassisted short-handed effort that put Buffalo up 2-0.

Jason Pominville scored for the third straight game moments later, deflecting Daniel Briere's shot past Cristobal Huet. Thomas Vanek extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with an empty-netter after stepping out of the penalty box with 19 seconds left in the third.

``I think we're a pretty well-grounded group,'' Pominville said. ``We work hard every night, and usually when you work hard you give yourself a chance to win.''

With Montreal controlling play early, Huet missed a long wrist shot by Novotny 9:42 into the first on Buffalo's second shot of the period. Novotny put a shot on net from just over the blue line that struck Huet's glove. The Canadiens' goalie remained in his butterfly stance as the puck popped into the air and dropped behind him into the net.

``I felt that it wasn't in front of me, but I really don't know,'' Huet said. ``I tried to control the puck but it went behind me.''

Stars 2, Canucks 1

Mike Modano scored the winning goal on a two-man advantage 8 1/2 minutes into the third, Marty Turco had 33 saves and host Dallas (8-1-0) topped the 7-1-1 mark set by 1971 team when it was in Minnesota.

Vancouver's Daniel Sedin scored on the first shot of the game, but that was all Vancouver could muster against Turco, who came into the game with the league's best goals-against average.

Niklas Hagman scored the Stars' first goal 2:24 into the first.

Thrashers 6, Panthers 3

At Sunrise, Fla., Ilya Kovalchuk scored three power-play goals to help Atlanta continue its record start.

The Thrashers (7-1-1) have 15 points, their most ever in October. Marian Hossa and Steve Rucchi also scored on the power play for the Thrashers, who also got a goal from former Florida captain Scott Mellanby. Slava Kozlov had four assists.

Joel Kwiatkowski, Bryan Allen and Jozef Stumpel scored for Florida, which lost at home for the first time in five games.

Sharks 3, Blue Jackets 0

Vesa Toskala ran his winning streak to 12 games with his fifth career shutout, and Steve Bernier, Jonathan Cheechoo and Marcel Goc all scored for visiting San Jose.

Toskala is 5-0-0 this season while allowing just under two goals a game with a .926 save percentage. The 12-game winning streak is the longest in Sharks history. He has also won his last eight starts on the road.

Columbus has lost four consecutive games while being outscored 17-5.

Avalanche 6, Kings 1

Milan Hejduk had two goals and an assist and host Colorado scored five, second-period goals to cruise past Los Angeles.

Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists and John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos added a goal and assist each. Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for Colorado, which won for the third time in four games.

Derek Armstrong had his first goal of the season for the Kings, 1-4-2 in their last seven games. Dan Cloutier stopped 26 shots and dropped to 8-8-2 in his career against Colorado.

Oilers 5, Coyotes 2

Petr Sykora had a goal and three assists in lifting host Edmonton past slumping Phoenix.

Ales Hemsky added a goal and two assists, Shawn Horcoff, Jarrett Stoll and Raffi Torres also scored, and rookie Patrick Thoresen had three assists for the Oilers, who got 28 saves from Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers won their third in a row to improve to 5-0 at home.

Jeremy Roenick and Mike Comrie scored for Phoenix, which has lost three straight.