Thomas Vanek opened the NHL season with a bang on Sunday, contributing on all five of Buffalo's goals in a 5-2 Sabres win over Philadelphia. The former Gopher earned three assists and notched a pair of goals including this dandy of a move to beat Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and tie the game at 2-2 late in the second period.
The five-point performance was a career-high for the Sabres alternate captain, who was drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft after helping the Gophers capture the 2003 NCAA National Championship and earning Frozen Four MVP honors.
"It's a lot of luck when you get that many points," Vanek told the Buffalo News. "I was fortunate every pass I made went in, and when I scored, I scored. You won't have many of those nights. You enjoy it, you like the win and you move on."
Vanek and Gophers alum/Buffalo teammate Jordan Leopold both finished the game as plus-ones.
Martin/Kessel/Leddy Also Start the Season Hot
*Paul Martin picked up three assists over the weekend as Pittsburgh opened the season with a pair of wins. The defenseman had two helpers in the Penguins' 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday and added another assist in Pittsburgh's 6-3 win over the New York Ranges on Sunday.
*Phil Kessel added a pair of assists in Toronto's 2-1 win over Montreal to open the season after tallying a career-high 82 points last season.
*Nick Leddy picked up a pair of assists over the weekend as Chicago improved to 2-0 with wins over Phoenix and Los Angeles.