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Naslund scores league-leading 36th goal

2/8/2003

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Martin Biron learned firsthand what a
dynamic goal scorer Markus Naslund has become.

Naslund scored his NHL-leading 36th goal and added an assist as
the Vancouver Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 Friday night.

Naslund deked several times and then put a backhand shot on a
breakaway past Biron to make it 2-0 in the first period after
Trevor Linden stole the puck from James Patrick.

"On his breakaway, he made two pretty moves,'' Biron said.
"Most guys in this league will make two or three moves and the
puck goes in the corner.''

Naslund moved ahead of Mario Lemieux for the league lead with 70
points, but he felt fortunate to score on his breakaway.

"I tried to get Biron to slide either way and give me a little
opening and he almost saved it,'' Naslund said.

With an assist for his 62nd point, Todd Bertuzzi extended his
point streak to 10 games -- the longest current run in the league.
The line of Bertuzzi, Naslund and Brendan Morrison finished with
four points.

"That is probably the best line I've seen all year,'' Sabres
coach Lindy Ruff said. "We gave them opportunities to win the game
and they did.''

Daniel Sedin, Artem Chubarov and Morrison -- with his first goal
in 18 games -- also scored for the Canucks, unbeaten in their last
five (2-0-3).

Morrison felt especially relieved 5:53 into the game when he
took a pass from Naslund on a two-on-one and fired it past Biron to
make it 1-0.

"A big sigh of relief,'' Morrison said. "I thought they were
going to bring a stretcher out to carry off the gorilla that fell
off my back. It was bound to happen sometime. It had gone on long
enough.''

Ales Kotalik got his 14th goal of the season and Dmitri Kalinin
also scored for the Sabres, who have lost five straight after a
7-1-2 start to January.

Dan Cloutier -- appearing in his 44th game of the season --
stopped 34 shots for the Canucks.

Naslund has a goal in 27 of Vancouver's 55 games, and the
Canucks are 19-5-3 when he scores.

Trailing 3-0 and on the power play, Kalinin fired a shot from
the top of the left circle past Cloutier 3:10 into the second.

Sedin made it 4-1 when he redirected Linden's shot past Biron
2:34 later.

Linden and Buffalo's Tim Connolly each had two assists. Biron
made 26 saves.

Buffalo peppered Cloutier with 16 shots in the second period,
while Vancouver had 12 shots.

The Canucks' 17 road wins lead the league. They finished their
three-game road trip 2-0-1.

"The systems are stepped back a little bit,'' Bertuzzi said.
"When you're on the road you don't have to put on a show. Even
though some people don't want to say it, I think at home you try to
do that, you try to be a little cuter and it doesn't work.''

Game notes
The Sabres offered Canadian money at par and had only their
third sellout of the season. The other two were against Toronto.
... Sabres D Rhett Warrener returned after missing 10 games with a
broken bone in his left foot and was ejected for being the third
man in a second-period fight. Sabres F Chris Gratton also returned
after missing two games with a mild concussion. ... The Sabres have
not led in two straight games for the first time since Dec. 30-31.