OTTAWA - Thomas Vanek scored three times for his first career hat trick, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Vanek opened the scoring in the second and added two goals in the third, including his 20th of the season on a 5-on-3 with 3:58 remaining for his first three-goal game.
|Chris Neil checks Patrick Kaleta into the boards. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)|
Clark MacArthur and Jason Pominville each had a goal and an assist in the third for the Sabres, who climbed back into the Eastern Conference playoff race by earning 16 of a possible 18 points while going undefeated through regulation in nine straight games.
Ryan Miller made 25 saves for Buffalo, which is 7-0-2 since Jan. 21, when a 6-2 loss in Phoenix dropped them to the conference's lower ranks with a 20-21-6 record.
Vanek scored the only goal of the first two periods 3:44 into the second with a slap shot past Ray Emery. He made it 2-0 early in the third as he spun around in front of Emery to beat the Ottawa goalie for his 19th goal.
Newcomer Cory Stillman got his first point with the Senators on an assist as Randy Robitaille ruined Miller's shutout bid with a power-play goal 3:57 into the third.
Senators public address announcer Stuntman Stu was still announcing details of Robitaille's goal when MacArthur restored Buffalo's two-goal lead 33 seconds later with his seventh goal at 4:30.
Vanek scored his third goal at 16:02 with Buffalo enjoying a two-man advantage.
Jason Pominville scored the Sabres' fifth goal on the ensuing power play at 16:56.
Ottawa's top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza was held without a point after combining for 15 - including Spezza's first hat trick and career high six points - between them in Saturday's 6-1 win over Montreal.
Miller faced only five shots in the first period and six in the second as Buffalo enjoyed a 27-11 margin in shots through the first two periods. The Sabres outshout the Senators 29-26 overall.
|Dean McAmmond keeps Thomas Vanek off the puck. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)|
Ottawa, which leads the conference by three points, had won two in a row with All-Star winger Dany Heatley back in the lineup. The Senators won only three of 11 games between Jan. 13 and Feb. 5 while Heatley was sidelined by a separated shoulder.
Defenceman Mike Commodore made his Ottawa debut, along with Stillman. The veterans were acquired from Carolina on Monday in a trade for right wing Patrick Eaves and defenceman Joe Corvo.
Both newcomers were in the starting lineup, as Commodore was paired with Wade Redden while Stillman played on a line with center Mike Fisher and right wing Chris Neil. Stillman also saw time on the Senators' second power-play unit with Neil and Robitaille.
Commodore helped deny an early scoring chance by Buffalo when he pushed a loose puck in front of the goal line back under Emery's pads 7:24 in after Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta's wraparound shot got behind the Senators goalie.
Notes: Sabres D Brian Campbell assisted on Vanek's first two goals. C Tim Connolly and LW Joechen Hecht also each had two assists ... Stillman, a Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay in 2004 and Carolina in 2006, wore his usual No. 61. Commodore, also a member of the Hurricanes' championship team, sported No. 44, which was previously worn by Eaves. The No. 22 Commodore wore with Carolina is already taken by Chris Kelly ... Ottawa assigned LW Nick Foligno to Binghamton of the AHL before the game ... With a crowd of 19,564, the Senators recorded their 23rd straight sellout at Scotiabank Place.