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Sabres Central

Pyatt making a big impact as Sabres win third straight
By Rick Anderson
March 28, 2003

Taylor Pyatt is making his presence in front of the net known these days as he scored a hat trick against the Canadiens Friday night. Pyatt, the big left winger, had his best NHL game in front of his family.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

The word is out. Knock Taylor Pyatt out and he'll come back like scoring machine.

The other half of the Michael Peca trade came through with some fireworks Friday night as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Pyatt scored his first ever NHL hat trick after coming back from a concussion that forced him to miss 4 games.

It's not that Pyatt was in a slump before Friday's game. He is in the midst of a five-game scoring streak where he has scored five goals to go along with two assists.

Pyatt just happened to perform his hat trick in front of his family. His parents and brother were on hand at HSBC Arena and were delighted to see him perform so well.

"It's kind of a shock to get three like that," admitted Pyatt. "`I didn't even look for any hats. It definitely feels good. I just wanted to come back and try to . I just wanted to get my game back to where it was. You get a little bit of confidence and things just sort of come a lot easier out there. The ice just seems to open up a little bit."

"It's been a pretty tough season for everyone. I've gone through stretches where I haven't scored much. Sometimes the points seem to come in bunches. Now I just want to build toward next year."

Taylor's dad, Nelson, also played in the NHL for seven year. "It's something I never accomplished in my career," Pyatt dad said. "We were hoping Lindy (Ruff) would just give him some ice time. We thought because of the concussion, Lindy would just work him in here and there. We're just real excited."

Pyatt came along with Tim Connolly two years ago in a controversial trade that sent then Sabres captain Michael Peca to the Islanders. Connolly has been the focus of most of the attention by the media, but Pyatt is much bigger and stronger than Connolly and may even have a better future with the club.

Connolly has been criticized for being too soft and inconsistent. Pyatt had also been struggling this season, and just went 18 games without a single goal before he broke out with 6 in 8 games. Pyatt now has 13 goals and 13 assists.

Talking about how Pyatt looked after coming back from a concussion, Ruff joked, "Somebody said after the game that he has to get knocked out again."

The Sabres took a 4-0 lead with the three goals by Pyatt and another one by Jochen Hecht. Martin Biron, who made 27 saves, felt he should have had a shutout. Yanic Perreault directed a pass off his skate 8:17 in the third stanza and Biron contested it. After it was reviewed upstair, it was declared a goal.

"I saw it right away," insisted Biron. "I started shaking my head. To me it looked like he dragged his foot just enough to give it a little extra bounce. But more importantly, it didn't take away from what we did tonight."

Hecht/Dumont/Briere line clicking

The victory was the third straight for the Sabres. They upset the mighty Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Monday night. This night it was Hecht who was the star, scoring two goals and the game winner in overtime. The overtime goal was a classic. Hecht roared down the right side, made a move to get the Avs goalie, David Aebischer, out of position and he pushed the puck into the open side to send the fans at HSBC Arena home happy.

''My shot didn't work on the (previous attempt) before and I just tried to make the most of it,'' Hecht described.

When the Sabres got Daniel Briere from Phoenix in exchange for Chris Gratton, Ruff put him on the line with Hecht and J.P. Dumont. That line has clicked since its inception.

''They put us together and right from the very first game we clicked,'' cited Hecht. ''It looks like everybody knows what the other guy is doing before he does it.''

Hecht, who also missed 20 games previously this season with a concussion along with 11 missed games with a hand injury, has been playing well as of late.

''I think if he would've stayed healthy he would have gotten us 20 goals,' Ruff said. ''For his own personal gains he wants to close it out in real good fashion.''

With 7:19 left in regulation, Briere scored a power play goal to send the game into overtime. From there, it was Hecht who finished the job.

Wednesday night, the Sabres hosted the Florida Panthers and came away with a 2-1 victory. It was Briere who scored that game winner, scoring his 4th goal since he came over from Phoenix.

"When I get traded some of the worries are am I going to fit in with team?'' revealed Briere. "Am I going to find a spot somewhere to help out the team? So far everything has worked out.''

Briere's goal came when the Sabres were on a powerplay and he got his stick on Miroslav Satan's point shot by Florida goalie Robert Luongo. It was Briere's 21st goal of the season.

"What a play by Miro,'' lauded Briere. "I just got open on the side of the net. And that's what good players do. They see who's open on the side of the net. He made a great pass.''

Chris Taylor got the first Sabres goal. It was his first NHL goal since Jan. 20, 2000.

The Sabres rebounded with 3 straight wins after a loss 3-2 in Toronto last Saturday. The Leafs Bryan McCabe tallied 36 seconds into OT as the Toronto won the series against Buffalo.

McCabe got a hard slap shot by Sabres goalie Mika Noronen for the game-winner.

"It was a hard shot. It just went by me and that's it," admitted Noronen.

"Bryan became very open,"said Leafs captain Matts Sundin. "He yelled for it for a couple seconds and he made a great shot to get the win. It's nice to see Bryan get it. He's been playing well defensively, but he hasn't scored as much as he had hoped."

In the week in review, getting 7 out of 8 points was a great sign of things to come for the Sabres. In beating the Avs and Habs, the Sabres displayed the emotion and intensity that was absent most of the season. It is clear that the resolution of the ownership mess may have something to do with the resurgence of the Sabres.

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