Briere's Hat Trick Lifts Sabres to Win

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 6, 2006; 5:03 AM

-- 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."

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