BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The Buffalo Sabres beat the Atlanta Thrashers 8-2 on Saturday night, in a game crucial for both teams' playoff hopes.
A three-goal first period kickstarted the Sabres' offense. Jason Pominville scored just 24 seconds into the game. After Atlanta's Chris Thorburn tied things at one, Mark Mancari tallied a power play goal and Rob Niedermayer deflected a Chris Butler shot to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead after one period.
Alex Burmistrov pulled the Thrashers within one with a goal 4:44 into the second frame. However, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis scored less than two minutes apart as the Sabres took at 5-2 lead into the second intermission.
The home team did not let up in the final period. Brad Boyes (power play), Rob Niedermayer, and Tim Connolly (power play) followed on the scoresheet.
Ryan Miller made 28 saves for his 30th win of the season.
The Thrashers started the contest with Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes. He was replaced with Chris Mason following the first period.
Buffalo now has 78 points and is alone in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is six points behind the Sabres. Carolina trails Buffalo by two points.