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Associated Press
11/10/2006 11:29:01 PM


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Thomas Vanek wasn't about to let his teammates down a second time.

After failing on a penalty shot in the second period, Vanek stormed back to score two goals, including the winner 19 seconds into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres erased another two-goal deficit to win 5-4 over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

The Sabres have come back to win six times after falling behind by two goals this season.

"Any time you have a chance to do something for your team, and you miss the opportunity, you're extra motivated to go out there and make up for it," Vanek said. "I was able to do that."

Florida forward Gary Roberts' holding penalty with less than two minutes left in regulation carried into overtime, where the Sabres had a 4-on-3 advantage. Ales Kotalik ripped a slap shot from the top of the left circle that was partially blocked by Panthers defenceman Mike Van Ryn, and Vanek picked up the loose puck in front and slid it past Florida goalie Alex Auld.

Following the play, Roberts was assessed an additional two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, as well as a 10-minute misconduct and a gross misconduct. He declined to talk about the infractions after the game.

The goal was retribution for Vanek after Auld foiled his penalty-shot attempt 1:37 into the second period.

"He's such a big goalie, I just hit him on the top of the shoulder," said Vanek, who was awarded the penalty shot after being hooked at the Panthers blue-line by Van Ryn.

"I was trying to wait and be patient," Auld said. "He tried to go high and I got my elbow on it."

Brian Campbell, Paul Gaustad and Ales Kotalik also scored for the Sabres, who won their second straight overtime game.

Roberts, Ruslan Salei, Joe Nieuwendyk and Steve Montador scored for the Panthers, who lost their second straight.

The Sabres played for the first time without three regulars, including starting goaltender Ryan Miller, who is day-to-day with a lower body muscle strain. Forward Maxim Afinogenov (upper body) and defenceman Henrik Tallinder (broken left forearm) also missed the game.

Martin Biron started in place of Miller and made 15 saves in his second straight start, and fourth of the season. He won a franchise-record 13 consecutive starts last year when Miller was out for more than a month with a broken thumb.

"It's one of those games as a goalie that you put the win in the bank and you just regroup," Biron said. "I'm fortunate enough that the team in front of me kept going at it."

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