Pavel Bure is playing so well, he doesn't need the opposition to give him the puck. The Buffalo Sabres did anyway.
Bure completed a hat trick with an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left and assisted Ray Whitney's goal as the Florida Panthers beat the Sabres, 4-2, last night in Buffalo.
"He's quite an exciting player, isn't he?" Florida Coach Terry Murray said.
Bure has 11 goals in the last nine games and eight in the last five. He also has 23 points in his 12 career games against Buffalo.
"When you hand the puck to one of the best breakaway players in the world, he's going to kill you," Sabres center Brian Holzinger said.
Holzinger's drop pass for Stu Barnes wound up on Bure's stick and in the Buffalo net seconds later for a 3-1 lead in the third period.
The Panthers snapped the Sabres' five-game home unbeaten streak (4-0-1) against Florida since November 1997. It was the 13th career hat trick for Bure and his second in five games.
"It's a team effort," Bure said. "That last goal, [Scott] Mellanby had to go down and get a puck and put it in front of the net. It's always nice to see how we're working as a team."
STARS 2, OILERS 2: Dallas Coach Ken Hitchcock was more concerned with injuries to two of his best players than salvaging a tie against host Edmonton.
Chris Murray scored with 4 minutes 27 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Stars the tie in a game that they lost defenseman Derian Hatcher and center Joe Nieuwendyk to injuries.
Hatcher lacerated his right calf when he collided with Edmonton's Todd Marchant and went down heavily against the boards behind the Dallas net midway through the second period.
Nieuwendyk bruised his ribs in the second period and could be out for up to a month.
"That's tough for us," Dallas Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They're probably our two best players.
"Derian is out for six to eight weeks. It was cut right through to the muscle. Nieuwendyk has rib cartilage damage. It could be a week. It could be a month."
RED WINGS 5, AVALANCHE 2: In Detroit, Brendan Shanahan and Doug Brown scored short-handed goals 11 seconds apart late in the second period.
The Red Wings, who have won five straight, also got goals from Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov in a four-goal blitz over the final 5 minutes 45 seconds of the second period that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead.
Patrick Roy gave up five goals and made 26 saves before he was replaced by Mark Denis, who stopped all nine shots he faced in the third.
Detroit outshot Colorado 40-15.
Pat Verbeek had a goal and an assist for Detroit, which has the NHL's best home record (15-3-1), most wins (21) and points (46). Ken Wregget made 13 saves in his second straight win.
"We didn't play well at all tonight," Colorado's Peter Forsberg said. "They were much hungrier than we were tonight. That's what happens when you work hard."
BRUINS 3, THRASHERS 1: Anson Carter had two goals and an assist as visiting Boston held off punchless Atlanta.
Several spectacular saves by goalie Norm Maracle kept the Thrashers in the game before a capacity crowd of 18,545 at Philips Arena, the seventh sellout for the expansion club.
"We had a lot of Grade A shots," Carter said. "If it weren't for their goalie, it could have been 4-1 or 5-1 easily."