Thornton scores twice for East-leading Bruins

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres fell behind early, and
were well on their way to yet another loss.

Joe Thornton scored two goals as the Boston Bruins extended
Buffalo's winless streak to nine games with a 4-3 victory Tuesday

The Sabres are 0-7-2 during the streak, three short of the team
record of 12 set in 1991. They sit just one point ahead of Atlanta
for the worst record in the NHL.

It didn't take long for the Bruins to take the lead as Thornton
fought off Jay McKee in front of the net to bang in Hal Gill's
rebound just 21 seconds in.

It was exactly what the Sabres didn't need.

"Everyone was up in the dressing room, really ready to go,''
Chris Gratton said. "Then they go and score on the first shift.
It's deflating, especially against one of the best teams in hockey.
You just can't allow them to score on the first shift in your own

"We've been scoring the first goal early, and thriving off
that,'' Thornton said. "Right now it's key for us to get that
first goal.''

J.P. Dumont tied it at 1 when he picked up a loose puck inside
the Boston blue line before firing a shot over the shoulder of
Steve Shields. It was Dumont's third goal of the season, and second
in two games.

Despite Thornton's quick goal, Buffalo outshot Boston 11-5 in
the first period and took the play to the Bruins. But the Sabres
were unable to capitalize on some glorious scoring opportunities.

"I thought there were a couple of goals we should've had,''
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "But you can see us squeezing the
sticks, from the point when Stu (Barnes) is all alone and doesn't
want to shoot. There's a little bit of second guessing going on.''

Marty McInnis, Thornton with his second of the night, and P.J.
Axelsson all scored second-period goals to give Boston a 4-1 lead.

Gratton scored two goals late in the third period to get the
Sabres within one. He leads the Sabres with 16 points.

Shields made 34 saves to get his sixth win of the season.

"They got a good goal at the end of their power play, and then
a lucky one out of the air,'' said Shields, who played 31 games for
Buffalo from 1995-98. "But we were in control for most of the

Boston (10-2-2-1) is the third team with 10 wins this season and
the Bruins lead the Eastern Conference with 23 points. The win was
Boston's 1,000th on the road.

"We're not surprised by our start,'' said Thornton, who has 10
points in five games. "We have four lines that can score. Right
now we just have to keep doing the simple things, like getting
shots on net.''

Buffalo goalie Mika Noronen was replaced by Martin Biron with
11:22 left in the second after allowing four goals on 14 shots.
Biron stopped all six shots he faced the rest of the way. This was
the second game in a row Buffalo has been forced to make a
goaltending change.

Boston's power play, which came into the game on a 6-for-14
streak, was 0-for-6.

Buffalo was 1-for-9 with the man advantage, with their only goal
coming at the end of a 7-minute power play in the third period.

Game notes
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance after
spending the day meeting with Sabres staff and the media. He said
the league is "closer to the end than we are to the beginning'' in
regards to finding an owner for the Sabres. Bettman also said he
"remains disappointed with ticket sales'' in Buffalo. ... Buffalo
GM Darcy Regier said the club is close to deciding which specialist
F Maxim Afinogenov will see about his recurring post-concussion