TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Daniel Briere needed 429 games for his first NHL hat trick. It was worth the wait.
Briere had three goals, including two during a three-goal first period, as the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Tuesday night.
"400 something games, I don't know why," Briere said. "I don't know how to explain it. It's a great feeling to finally get one."
Briere completed the hat trick from in-close with 7:39 left to play. He has 143 career goals, including 13 this season.
"When nights like this happen, it's just not about yourself," Briere said. "I have to give my linemates a lot of credit because of the plays they made."
Buffalo also got a goal from Chris Drury, who has a four-game goal-scoring streak. The Sabres, coming off a 7-4 defeat to Washington on Saturday, have not lost consecutive games this season.
"It was a game that we wanted to take a lot of pride in, in trying to win and stay away from losing two in a row," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.
Vincent Lecavalier scored for the Lightning, who have lost four in a row. He has a goal in four straight games.
"We played OK at times," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "You have to score goals. You're not going to win if you don't score goals."
After Lecavalier scored 53 seconds into the game, Briere tied it at 1-all at 7:17. Drury put the Sabres ahead at 10:34 before Briere made it 3-1 with 2:45 left in the first.
Drury's goal during a 3-on-1 came after Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller stopped an in-close chance by Brad Richards. Briere's second goal in the first was set up by Jochen Hecht, who stole the puck from Richards in the Lightning zone.
Briere admitted thinking about the hat trick after his second goal.
"I can't remember a time where I had two in the first period so early like that," Briere said. "50-minutes to play with a chance to get it."
Miller finished with 29 saves.
"The boys did a great job around me," Miller said. "I got to see a lot of pucks, and they were making plays."
Tampa Bay's Marc Denis had 21 saves. He made a diving stick stop on Maxim Afinogenov one minute after Briere gave Buffalo a two-goal lead late in the first.
Buffalo is 12-2-0 on the road. The Lightning dropped to 7-8-0 at home.
"We played a very good game, but not good enough," Tampa Bay captain Tim Taylor said. "We didn't win. It's all about winning and losing, and right now we're losing."
Notes: The start was delayed 10 minutes because of a pregame ceremony honoring former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk. ... Buffalo D Jaroslav Spacek (foot) returned after missing one game. ... Sabres C Jiri Novotny (upper body) was back in the lineup after sitting out the previous two games. ... Tampa Bay LW Andre Roy left with a leg injury.
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