Sabres Rout Lightning 7-1 to Clinch Playoff Spot


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Patrick Lalime won his 200th career game and the Buffalo Sabres clinched their first playoff berth in three years with a 7-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

Lalime, who made 22 saves, had been 0-4-1 with a no-decision since posting win No. 199 against Pittsburgh on Dec. 29. He is the 66th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone.

Derek Roy scored his fourth career hat trick and added an assist for Buffalo, which hadn't reached the playoffs since the 2007-08 season.

Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville and Adam Mair also scored for the Sabres, who have won five of their last six.

Steve Downie scored for Tampa Bay, which lost for the sixth time in eight games. Antero Niittymaki gave up three goals on six shots in the game's first 8:52 and was replaced by Mike Smith, who made 16 saves.

Gaustad opened the scoring at the 2:24 mark, redirecting a Craig Rivet slap shot while stationed in front of Niittymaki.

Buffalo then broke the game open with a pair of power play goals during a five-minute advantage. Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier was assessed a major – along with an automatic game misconduct — for spearing Tim Kennedy. Roy and Hecht scored in a 50-second span to put the Sabres up 3-0.

In the second period, Pominville redirected a pass at the corner of the goalmouth seven minutes in, and Roy notched his second of the night on a backhand flip less than three minutes later. Mair then scored with 8:44 left, duplicating Pominville's positioning and tapping in an easy goal.

Roy completed his hat trick with a power play goal six minutes into the third period. He connected on a slap shot from between the faceoff circles.

Rookie Tyler Ennis, who scored in his only other NHL game Nov. 14 at Philadelphia, had two assists.

Buffalo played without C Tim Connolly and RW Patrick Kaleta. Connolly injured his foot about a week ago and it flared up. Kaleta has an upper body injury. … Tampa Bay remains six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. … Pominville, with a goal and two assists, surpassed the 300-point milestone for his career. … The Lightning recalled D Vladimir Mihalik from AHL Norfolk, and he made his season debut. He played in 11 NHL games last year.

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