Sabres score three unanswered goals in first


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff got the
hard work and team unity he was looking for.

Chris Gratton, Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont had a goal and an
assist each as the Sabres opened the season with a 5-1 victory over
the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

"Ever since we started training camp, I just kept hammering
home emotion and intensity,'' Ruff said. "We developed a lot of
chemistry throughout camp by playing that way. That was evident out
there tonight.''

Many of the 12,224 in attendance at HSBC Arena were still
getting settled in their seats when New York's Dave Scatchard
scored a power-play goal on the game's first shot, jamming a loose
puck between goalie Martin Biron's pad at 1:01.

Buffalo responded minutes later, when Stu Barnes completed a
great passing play by redirecting a feed from Dumont past a
sprawling Chris Osgood.

Gratton, with the third opening night goal of his career, and
Jochen Hecht scored 1:31 apart late in the period to put Buffalo
ahead 3-1.

Hecht's goal capped off a tremendous effort from Connolly, who
carried the puck the length of the ice before dishing off to the
Sabres' newcomer. Hecht then eluded two tangled defenders in the
faceoff circle before burying a snap shot over Osgood's shoulder.

Connolly and Dumont scored-second period goals to round out the
scoring for Buffalo.

Barnes said a total team effort is essential on a nightly basis.

"We don't have that one single guy who's a game-breaker,''
Barnes said. "All 20 guys on the ice have to be involved in the
game for us to be successful.''

Biron turned aside 22 shots for Buffalo. He was especially sharp
in the second period, making big saves on Alexei Yashin and Mark
Osgood gave up Buffalo's five goals on 20 shots in just two
periods. He was replaced by Garth Snow in the third.

"We didn't take care of our slot like we usually do,'' said
Osgood, who won 32 games last season. "We played good in the
exhibition season. We were playing good defense and scoring goals.
Tonight it was the exact opposite.''

There were 150 penalty minutes in the game, including five
fights. Sabres' tough guy Eric Boulton was involved in three of the
bouts, earning himself a broken nose and automatic game misconduct
in the process.

Buffalo's Taylor Pyatt was ejected in the second period when he
was given a match penalty for spearing Ray Schultz.

Game notes
The crowd of 12,224 was the lowest opening-night attendance
in the seven-year history of HSBC Arena. ... Buffalo's record in
season openers now stands at 18-12-3, while the Islanders are
8-15-8. ... Miroslav Satan played in his 246th consecutive game,
tying him with Nashville's Greg Johnson for fourth spot among
active players. ... Buffalo forward Maxim Afinogenov worked out
symptom-free for a second consecutive day Thursday. Afinogenov
missed training camp with a concussion after being hit above the
right eye with a puck following a scrimmage in Russia on Sept. 5.
... Ales Kotalik, Dmitri Kalinin and Brian Campbell were scratched
from the Sabres' lineup. ... Tomi Pettinen was the lone New York