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Sabres dive right in Sabres vs. Bruins: Rare early cushion allows Buffalo to extend win streak to six games

The consequence for diving is two minutes in the penalty box.

The price of freefalling is an ostensible eternity, watching the postseason from afar.

Last week, the Boston Bruins made much of their disdain for what they perceived to be questionable theatrics from the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins claimed the Sabres flailed around like a mackerel on a poop deck in an attempt to draw penalties.

So Sabres coach Lindy Ruff had a message for his boys before the teams met Sunday in HSBC Arena for the third time in nine days.

"I told them not to flop around like fish," Ruff said with a smirk, "and then go after them like sharks."

The Sabres were voracious all right. Once again they ravaged the Bruins, 6-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 18,690. The soaring Sabres have netted at least six goals four times during their six-game winning streak. They have scored 20 times in their last three games.

Thomas Vanek had two goals and one assist, and Ales Kotalik and Maxim Afinogenov had one goal and two assists apiece. Martin Biron made 37 saves in his first home start since Jan. 12.

"They're one of the best teams in the league right now," said Boston coach Mike Sullivan, whose club has plummeted from the postseason hunt with one victory in nine games. "They have an even attack and have four lines that come at you."

The Sabres have beaten the Bruins all six times they've played this season. To put such dominance in perspective, if they were playing a best-of-11 series, the Sabres would have swept them.

"Boston is playing pretty hard right now, battling for their lives," Kotalik said. "Those games aren't easy. They might look easy, but they're tough. It shows our strength that we've been able to keep coming out of those games with two points."

Sunday's game, compared to the preceding few, might have felt like a day off to some Sabres. They never trailed after they were forced to come from behind in their previous four games, the last two being run-and-gun affairs in which they allowed five goals.

Derek Roy's power-play goal and Afinogenov's penalty shot gave Buffalo a 2-0 lead before the end of the first period. Kotalik padded the cushion and Tim Connolly's five-on-three goal pushed it to 4-0 in the second.

"That's something new," Sabres defenseman Jay McKee said, jokingly. "It was rewarding that once we got the lead we didn't sit back. We kept pushing forward. In the past we've been sitting back and letting teams get that extra goal."

The Sabres haven't scored fewer than three goals since their first game back from the Olympics, and the production is coming from everywhere.

How balanced is Buffalo's scoring?

Before Vanek scored his second goal late in the third period -- a spectacular effort in which he undressed fish-flopping accuser Nick Boynton in the left circle and then dived headfirst at the top of the crease to get his shot past goalie Andrew Raycroft -- 11 different Sabres had scored.

Fourteen Sabres had at least one point in Thursday night's 8-5 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It's not the same guys all the time," Vanek said. "We have four good lines, and we just want to keep on rolling."

The rookie winger's second goal tied Kotalik for the team lead with 23. Vanek has six goals in nine games.

But the hottest Sabre of them all might be Vanek's linemate. Roy has nine goals and six assists in his last 11 games. He had nine goals and 10 assists in 45 games as a rookie in 2003-04.

Boston made the game more competitive with goals that cut Buffalo's edge in half. Andrew Alberts in the second period scored a short-handed goal (the Sabres have given up a league-worst 16), and Brad Boyes struck a few seconds into the third.

Biron foiled a late Boston rush when he charged out to the left faceoff dot and gloved a Patrick Leahy shot.

e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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