From spectator to contributor, Sabres forward Drew Stafford quickly put his benching behind him with an impressive response.
Two days after he was banished to watch in the press box as a healthy scratch, Stafford rebounded by scoring twice, including once on a penalty shot, and added an assist to help Buffalo overcome a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins last night.
"It comes back to how you respond," Stafford said. "It's being professional about it, not feeling sorry for yourself. It's just going back to work. I was very fortunate enough to get some breaks tonight, and it just so happened to be the night after I got sat out. I'll take it."
So will the Sabres in a game they looked like they had no business being in after starter Ryan Miller was pulled 22 minutes in, when he allowed his third goal on 11 shots. Patrick Lalime took over and stopped all 27 shots he faced, and Jason Pominville capped the comeback by scoring a power-play goal with 9 minutes, 5 seconds left in regulation.
Paul Gaustad also scored for the Sabres, who hadn't overcome a three-goal deficit since a 5-4 shootout win at Dallas last Jan. 15.
Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz scored for the Penguins, who squandered a three-goal lead for the first time since a 5-3 loss at Nashville last Jan. 8.
The Penguins dropped to 1-3 in their past four games, and blew a chance to move into a tie with New Jersey atop the Eastern Conference standings. With 53 points, the Penguins are two back of New Jersey as they travel to face their Atlantic Division rival tonight.
In other games:
* At Anaheim, Bobby Ryan scored two goals and assisted on another in the Ducks' 4-2 victory over Minnesota.
* At Uniondale, N.Y., Rob Schremp scored the only goal in a shootout and Dwayne Roloson made 41 saves to give the New York Islanders a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Islanders won for just the third time in their last eight home games.
* At Dallas, Steve Ott had two goals, including a tiebreaking power-play tally early in the third period, and the Stars beat Chicago, 5-4. Loui Eriksson and Ott scored for the Stars in a 35-second span early in the second period, and Dallas' Mike Modano added his 549th goal, tying Ron Francis for 25th on the career list. Chicago's Patrick Kane scored twice.
* At St. Louis, Shea Weber assisted on three of Nashville's four straight goals and the Predators held off the Blues, 4-3.
* At Glendale, Ariz., Jason LaBarbera made 28 saves and was perfect in the shootout to help the Phoenix Coyotes set a franchise record by winning their 10th straight home game, 3-2, over Vancouver. Ed Jovanovski and Petr Prucha scored in regulation and Lauri Korpikoski had the lone goal of the shootout.
* Washington sent goalie Semyon Varlamov to AHL affiliate Hershey as he comes back from a lower-body injury.
* Chicago right wing Marian Hossa will lead Slovakia at February's Vancouver Olympics. Hossa is one of 12 NHL players on the 23-player roster. Also headlining the team are Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara and New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik. Former Buffalo star Miroslav Satan will make his fourth Olympic appearance. Slovakia finished fifth at the 2006 Turin Games. The other NHL players are goalies Peter Budaj (Colorado) and Jaroslav Halak (Montreal); defensemen Milan Jurcina (Columbus), Andrej Meszaros (Tampa Bay), Andrej Sekera (Buffalo) and Lubomir Visnovsky (Edmonton); and forwards Pavol Demitra (Vancouver), Michal Handzus (Los Angeles) and Tomas Kopecky (Chicago).