Sabres 6, Bruins 2

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Daniel Briere shrugged his shoulders when informed his eight-game scoring streak came to an end.

It was no big deal because the Buffalo Sabres got plenty of production from other players Sunday night in a 6-2 victory over Boston that extended their winning streak to six games.

“That’s why we’re a good team,” Briere said. “We keep finding ways to win and there’s no doubt it doesn’t matter who scores. … The depth of our team is what makes the difference and it showed tonight.”

Thomas Vanek scored twice and set up another for Buffalo, which beat Boston for the sixth straight time this season. Maxim Afinogenov, who scored on a penalty shot, and Ales Kotalik had a goal and two assists each while Tim Connolly and Derek Roy also scored for a Sabres team that’s 13-1-2 in its last 16.

Martin Biron stopped 37 shots in helping Buffalo stay two points behind Northeast Division-leading Ottawa, which defeated Washington earlier in the day.

Buffalo has outscored its opponents 32-18 in their last six.

What might be more frightening for NHL opponents is the Sabres are suddenly playing with their healthiest lineup after welcoming back Briere, Connolly and defenseman Dmitri Kalinin, all of whom missed extended stretches prior to last month’s Olympic break.

“You should ask other teams how scary that is,” Kotalik said. “For us it’s just fun, a great feeling to have.”

Bruins coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t left with any doubts about how good Buffalo is playing.

“They’re one of the best teams in the league right now,” Sullivan said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now and are one of the hottest teams.”

Andrew Alberts, with his first career goal, and Brad Boyes scored for the Bruins, who have lost five straight and dropped to 1-7-1 in their last nine. The losing streak matches Boston’s longest of the season. The Bruins (25-30-10) also reached 30 loses in a season for the first time since 2000-01.

“It’s crunch time and we have to go,” defenseman Hal Gill said. “The effort that was there just wasn’t good enough at all.”

Afinogenov broke the game open in the first period, first helping set up Roy’s game-opening goal and then converting the first penalty-shot attempt of his career at the 14:20 mark.

Afinogenov was awarded the penalty shot when he was tripped from behind by Gill after being set up by Vanek’s perfectly timed breakout pass. Afinogenov scored when, dragging the puck on his forehand, he snapped a shot through Andrew Raycroft’s legs to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead.

The Sabres eventually built a 4-0 lead when Connolly snapped a shot in from the right circle to convert a 5-on-3 power play 15 minutes into the second period.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff noted the compliment Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki paid Buffalo’s balanced attack following their 6-5 win at Philadelphia on Saturday.

“He said he really felt we had four No. 1 lines. And that really sums up the way our team plays,” Ruff said. “We’re really preaching the team concept, that as a team we could be one of the toughest opponents in the league.

Ruff spoke on the day The Buffalo News reported the coach’s 11-year-old daughter, Madeleine, was diagnosed with having an unidentified mass on her brain. Ruff told the newspaper that he is awaiting further tests after the mass, about the size of a quarter, was discovered Friday during tests at Buffalo Women and Children’s Hospital.

The Sabres confirmed the news but said Ruff would not comment following the game.

In one corner of the arena, a fan pasted a sign that read: “God Bless, Madeleine.”

Notes

Raycroft has allowed four goals on four penalty shots in his career, including allowing Los Angeles’ Alexander Frolov to score in a 6-0 loss Jan. 12. … The Sabres have scored goals on their last four penalty shots, including Vanek’s goal in a 3-2 overtime win over Anaheim on Dec. 8. … Roy has seven goals in his last six games, equaling the number he had in his first 44 games this season.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
A. Kotalik A. Kotalik
Buffalo Sabres
Scored at 8:27 of 2nd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Andrew Raycroft Dal 30 24