BOSTON -- Tomas Vanek put on a dazzling one-man show, allowing the Buffalo Sabres to rally from deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 to end their four-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Bruins Thursday night.
Vanek delivered a hat trick and two assists and linemates Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson totaled six points between them as the Sabres, 0-3-1 in their last four games, handed the Bruins their first regulation loss of the lockout-delayed season. Boston, dropping to 5-1-1, also suffered its first home loss in five games.
Vanek, who has 54 points in 46 career games against Boston, set up Hodgson for the go-ahead goal at 6:54 of the third period and then closed out his eighth career hat trick late the scoring late before Pominville hit the empty net.
Tyler Ennis and Alexander Sulzer also beat a virtually unaided Tuukka Rask for the Sabres, who got big saves from Ryan Miller all night.
Brad Marchand scored twice for the Bruins, who also got goals from Rich Peverley and David Krejci.
The Bruins lost three forwards during the game. Patrice Bergeron, who had two assists, left early in the third period with an apparent right shoulder injury, but returned. Shawn Thornton was lost in an early fight; and Daniel Paille was cut by a Tyler Myers high stick in the third period and had to go for repairs.
Thornton, answering the call to battle the much-larger John Scott after the Sabres made it clear they had added more muscle during the offseason, was pummeled to the ice by Scott as the pair lined up for their first faceoff, 2:50 into the game. Both went to the penalty box but when Thornton came out he went right to the dressing room and didn't return. He never got a punch off in the fight.
After Vanek gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead the Bruins scored three goals in a 5:42 span to take a 3-1 lead.
Peverley tied the game with a goal that required patience. He had all kinds of time in front of the net but waited for an opening through the bodies and beat Miller at 5:12. Marchand then scored on a solo effort at 7:43 before taking a pass from Bergeron and getting another one through Miller, this one at 10:54.
Milan Lucic and Chara then took penalties on the same play to leave the Bruins two men down for two minutes. Boston killed a 90-second two-man in its opener against the Rangers, but Vanek tipped home and Christian Ehrhoff slap past a minute into the power play. The play was reviewed but Vanek clearly tipped the puck with his stick and then between his own legs.
A great shift by the Sabres ended with Vanek making an acrobatic pass to Ennis for his second of the year just 1:33 later.
The teams traded early third-period goals 43 seconds apart. Krejci showed all kinds of moves and patience to score at 1:45, he and Nathan Horton extending points streaks to five games. But Sulzer then tied it right back up at 4-4.
Vanek then went around Johnny Boychcuk and set up Hodgson at 6:54.
Tyler Seguin celebrated his 21st birthday and had an assist for Boston.
NOTES: Left wing Chris Bourque, without a point and a minus-4 in the first six games with his dad's old team, was a scratch as the Bruins inserted the tougher Lane McDermid for his season debut (his sixth NHL game). With Bourque bumped from the third line, Paille slipped in there and McDermid took Paille's fourth-line spot. ... Both teams carried young players past the six-game deadline to return players to junior. Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Buffalo center Mikhail Grigorenko became official NHLers with Thursday night's game, Game 7 for both teams. ... Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid returned to the lineup after missing two games because of the death of his grandmother. ... The Sabres were missing right wing Patrick Kaleta, who suffered a neck injury (on a hit by Toronto's Mike Brown) bad enough to send him to the hospital. He's OK and is day-to-day. ... The Bruins are at Toronto and the Sabres at Montreal on Saturday. ... Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff trails only Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in tenure with the same team. There have been 170 NHL coaching changes since Ruff was hired to coach the Sabres July 21,1997. ... Thornton's fighting major was his third in seven games.