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Associated Press
12/21/2006 10:48:06 PM


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Jason Pominville had two goals and an assist and Maxim Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik each scored twice to help the Buffalo Sabres snap a two-game skid by routing the Nashville Predators 7-2 Thursday night.

There was an ugly incident at 15:21 of the third when Scott Nichol of Nashville sucker-punched Buffalo's Jaroslav Spacek in the jaw. Spacek received an interference call on the play but Nichol left the game after receiving an instigator penalty, gross misconduct, 10-minute misconduct and five-minute fighting major. Spacek finally got up a couple minutes later.

These teams had not played since Nov. 29, 2003, and won't play again this season unless it's in the Stanley Cup final. With Buffalo the top team in the Eastern Conference and Nashville second in the West, it's not an unlikely Cup preview.

But the Sabres, who outshot Nashville 36-31, scored two goals in the first five minutes and sealed the victory with three in the second, including the last two by Afinogenov. Derek Roy and Brian Campbell each had two assists.

Martin Erat scored short-handed, and Jason Arnott added a power-play goal in the third as Nashville snapped a five-game winning streak by losing for the first time in six games against Eastern Conference teams.

The Predators used to dominate this intermittent series, winning the last four meetings. They also came in as the NHL's best team on home ice, but the Sabres are the league's best road team. They're 15-3 on the road now.

This was just the second home loss in regulation this season for Nashville, which was playing on a second consecutive night.

The Sabres took advantage with a fast start.

Kotalik scored 33 seconds into the game by deflecting a shot from Campbell, who had just kept the puck in the zone. Pominville made it 2-0 at 5:43 of the first when he squeezed a shot between goaltender Chris Mason and the post off a pass from Daniel Briere.

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