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SABRES SERVE UP A SOFT ONE
SPECIAL TEAMS HELP COYOTES WALTZ, 7-3

Delilah must have been cutting hair in the Sabres' dressing room before the game because Buffalo's strengths were suddenly in short supply.

Then the Phoenix Coyotes slit the Sabres' throats.

By the start of the third period Friday night at HSBC Arena, goaltender Dominik Hasek had been yanked from the crease and the penalty killers had allowed two goals.

The Coyotes howled to a 7-3 victory as Jeremy Roenick recorded a hat trick and his 400th career goal and Keith Tkachuk had five assists. Stu Barnes, Curtis Brown and J.P. Dumont scored for the Sabres.

"Soft play in our own zone killed us," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We lost the one-on-one battles. They skated a little better, and they won the battle in special teams. They won the fight. They won the goaltending. They won offensively.

"That leads up to getting smoked."

The Sabres were upset but not shellshocked after the loss.

Hair grows back.

"There's no explanation," defenseman Jason Woolley said. "It's just one of those nights where everything they shot seemed to go in the net. It just kept getting worse and worse. There were breakdowns.

"But (our players) have already forgotten about this one."

Making Friday's drubbing easier to take was the fact the Sabres had won four straight, including three against the Eastern Conference's top two teams. They beat the Ottawa Senators once and the New Jersey Devils twice.

Buffalo slipped to sixth place in the East with 70 points after Pittsburgh beat the New York Rangers, 6-4, to climb into fifth place.

"It was a big two points for us," Ruff said of the Phoenix game. "Every point is valuable right now, especially if you look on our schedule. We have one more home game and then a very demanding five-game trip."

Buffalo hosts Tampa Bay Sunday at 2 p.m. before playing Ottawa, Philadelphia, Colorado, Dallas and Boston over an eight-day stretch.

Friday night was a difficult one for Hasek.

The Dominator had his career-long scoreless streak snapped, allowed more than one goal for the first time in five games and got pulled after 40 minutes, allowing four goals on 22 Coyote shots.

"It's a classic example -- you can be the best one day and the worst the next day," said Hasek, who went 178 minutes, 22 seconds without allowing a goal. He entered the game needing 6:23 to eclipse his previous best of 169:35 set in 1997-98.

Replacement Martin Biron gave up three goals on nine shots.

"Defensively, you'd have to give us a poor rating there because we gave them some great opportunities," Ruff said.

The Sabres entered the game boasting the NHL's best penalty-killing unit at 87.8 percent, but they gave up two on six chances, all of which came in the first two periods.

The Sabres converted one of seven power-play opportunities.

"The one thing we didn't want to get involved in was a special teams game," Ruff said. "You burn out too many players. In the first period we get four power plays, they get three. You're using the same personnel killing that you are on the power play. We knew we wanted to use four lines, but I think we burned a few guys out."

Roenick opened scoring with a milestone goal at 8:58 of the first period.

The goal was the 400th of Roenick's career, making him the third American to record as many. Joe Mullen scored 502, and Pat LaFontaine had 468.

"It's very, very special," Roenick said. "There have only been three guys ever to do it. The other two guys are friends of mine, and I respect them tremendously. It's short company for the U.S. But it's something I'm very, very proud of."

The Coyotes led, 5-1, when Roenick registered his hat trick at 7:33 of the third period with his 24th goal.

The Sabres showed some life with two goals in 26 seconds. Brown scored on a power play and then set up Dumont to make the score 5-3 with 8:02 left to play.

Juha Ylonen and Shane Doan answered as each scored their second goal to close the scoring.

Doan was the right wing on the Roenick line, which finished the game with five goals and eight assists.

"They were hot today," Hasek said. "They were skating well, and we were making mistakes. We were talking about Jeremy Roenick and Tkachuk, but we were (only) talking. On the ice we didn't do our job."

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