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Stafford nets hat trick as Sabres edge Bruins 3-2

In his first game back from a shoulder injury, Drew Stafford netted a hat trick to lead the host Buffalo Sabres past the Bruins at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY on Wednesday night.

David Krejci gave the Bruins the game's first goal 17:29 into the first period. Krejci got to the top of crease and executed a perfect redirection of Dennis Seidenberg's shot from the left wing boards to beat Ryan Miller.

The Sabres knotted it up at 1-1 just 1:12 after Krejci's goal on a power play tally from Drew Stafford. With Milan Lucic watching from the penalty box after a boarding call, the B's failed to clear the puck or the bodies in front of Rask's crease. After several shots in succession, Drew Stafford shoveled a backhander past Rask from the door step for his 6th goal of the season.

Michael Ryder gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead with a power play goal at 6:21 of the third period. Michael Ryder weaved his way through the Buffalo PK unit, deked, and tucked the puck past Ryan Miller at the right post for his 9th goal of the season. Steve Kampfer set up the goal and recorded his first NHL point.

Much like the first lead for the Bruins, this one was short-lived. Once again, it was Drew Stafford with a helper from Derek Roy that put the Sabres on level ground. Stafford's one-timer from the slot off a backhand pass from the right wing by Roy tied the game at 2-2 just 32 seconds after Ryder's goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

The Bruins appeared to take a 3-2 lead with just over 9 minutes left in the game, but the goal was immediately waved off due to an inference call on Shawn Thornton, who ran into Ryan Miller and took him out the play.

With Thornton in the box for interference on the goaltender, Drew Stafford found the back of the net to complete the hat trick. Jason Pominville's shot from the right circle rebounded out to Derek Roy in the slot. Roy passed the puck to Stafford near the left post and Stafford put it home for his third of the game as the hats rained down on to the ice at HSBC Arena.

Any chance for a late Bruins' comeback was dashed when Milan Lucic was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 1:38 left in the game for chirping at one of the referees from the bench.

Things got interesting after the final whistle when a 5-on-5 dust-up erupted. Zdeno Chara was stationed at the top of the crease in the game's waning moments. Ryan Miller gave Chara a shove as the whistle sounded and Chara and Miller exchanged words, which brought in a herd of Buffalo players. Paul Gaustad gave Chara a slash and soon the gloves came off, and players paired up. What could have erupted into an all-out brawl was quickly diffused, as neither team wanted to deal with the ramifications of a brawl after the final whistle. For the record (not that it really matters), Chara was given a double minor for roughing and Marc Savard, Paul Gaustad, and Cody McCormick were hit with a minors for roughing.

Final - 12.15.2010 1 2 3 Total
Boston Bruins 1 0 1 2
Buffalo Sabres 1 0 2 3

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- This was Mark Recchi 1,600th NHL game. He ranks 9th in NHL history is now 12 games behind Ray Bourque.

- Andrew Ference's little cross-check to the head of Patrick Kaleta in the first period was a complete bush league cheap shot. He is lucky that he did not get more than a 2-minute minor for roughing.

- Tyler Seguin was scratched for the second straight game. Seguin missed Saturday's game with flu-like symptoms and was presumably a healthy scratch tonight. Daniel Paille dressed in Seguin's place.

- The 4th line of Brad Marchand, Shawn Thornton, and Gregory Campbell has been nicknamed the "Merlot Line" for the maroon practice jerseys their line wears. During the NESN broadcast, they told the story of how all three players bought velvet purple blazers that they wore before tonight's game.

- Milan Lucic was giving an unsportsmanlike conduct minor with 1:38 left in the period in a one goal game. Lucic must have said something really bad about the ref's wife or mother or he is super sensitive. That takes balls to makes that call at that point in the game. At the same time, Lucic needs to be smarter in this situation and keep his mouth shut.

- Milan Lucic recorded 7 of his team's 21 hits tonight.

- The "Merlot Line" of Thornton, Campbell, and Marchand each registered 4 shots on goal.

- Derek Roy had the primary assist on all 3 of Drew Stafford's goals.

- Tuukka Rask stopped 32 of 35 shots.

- The Bruins will not have too much time to dwell on this game. The Bruins are right back at it tomorrow night when they head north of the border to take on the Montreal Canadiens in a battle for the top spot in the Northeast Division.

- For more on tonight's game, shoot on over to Die By The Blade