Sabres storm back with four third-period goals

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres came back from a three-goal deficit and gained some confidence for next season.

Daniel Briere and Tim Connolly scored power-play goals in the
final 1:59 and the Sabres rallied to a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta
Thrashers on Wednesday night.

"It was pretty exciting,'' said Connolly, who tipped in the
winning goal with 53.7 seconds to play. "It shows us for future
reference that when we do get down, we can come back and win.''

The Sabres won for the first time after being down by three
goals since Oct. 17, 1998, at Montreal. According to the Elias
Sports Bureau, the last time Buffalo came back after trailing by
three in the final period was Jan. 23, 1992, at Pittsburgh.

"At the moment, this win ranks right up there,'' said coach
Lindy Ruff, who was honored in a pregame ceremony for becoming the
winningest coach in team history.

Dmitri Kalinin and Ales Kotalik also scored third-period goals, while Mika Noronen made 20 saves for Buffalo, winners of five of its last six.

"Sometimes you get that tying goal, and you think we've done our job,'' said Briere, who banged in a rebound to tie it 3-3. "The next line came out and kept it going. Guys paid the price for a big goal.''

Pasi Nurminen made 36 saves for Atlanta, which failed in its bid
for a club-record five-game unbeaten streak. Lubos Bartecko,
Yannick Tremblay, and Dany Heatley scored for the Thrashers, and
Marc Savard and Slava Kozlov each had two assists.

"That game should have been ours,'' said Heatley, who gave
Atlanta a 3-0 lead in the second period.

"It can't happen like that,'' Nurminen said. "We stood back a
little too much. I think we're learning every game more and more.''

Bartecko and Tremblay scored 23 seconds apart in the first period, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead.

Bartecko scored at the 10:49 mark, corralling a loose puck
directed to him by Kamil Piros. Tremblay scored on a wrist shot
from the slot after taking a drop pass from Marc Savard. With the
assist, Savard extended his point streak to seven games.

Tremblay, who scored in overtime against the New York Rangers on
Monday night, has goals in consecutive games for the second time in
his seven-year career.

Heatley made it 3-0 with a power-play goal on a rising slap shot
from just above the right circle.

Kalinin spoiled Nurminen's shutout bid with his seventh goal
6:43 into the third period, and Kotalik scored his 20th with 6:54

Game notes
Sabres players presented Ruff with a Rolex watch in the
pregame ceremony. Ruff broke Scotty Bowman's mark of 210 wins on
March 18 against Philadelphia. Bowman was part of the ceremony, as
were Ruff's parents, Shirley and Leeson, from Warburg, Alberta.
Ruff was given a custom portrait and a 65-inch TV from the club
during the morning skate. ... Sabres D Rhett Warrener returned to
the lineup after missing two games while being observed for Severe
Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). His roommate, Brian Campbell,
remains under observation. ... Each team had a player making his
NHL debut, Atlanta with D Joe DiPenta and Buffalo with RW Milan