The Buffalo Sabres tried to improve their team toughness in the offseason and, judging by their first encounter with the Bruins, that's exactly what they've done.

Not only are they a more formidable foe with the 6-foot-8, 270-pound John Scott in the lineup, they also showed they can take a pretty good punch. The B's at one point were dominating the game at the Garden tonight, winning 3-1 late in the second. But thanks to a 5-on-3, the Sabres tied the gae before the second was out and wound up winning the game 7-4. Tomas Vanek had a five-point night with a hat trick and Ryan Miller made 38 saves to lead the Sabres.

The Sabres played well, but the Bruins did not, especially defensively.

"It was really uncharacteristic for us, for sure," said goalie Tuukka Rask, a victim of odd-man situations all night.

Shawn Thornton fought the massive Scott 2:53 into the game and couldn't get inside on the big man, paying for it with a flurry of punches that sent him to the ice. Thornton, who appeared to take a shot behind the ear, served his five minutes but then left the game and did not return. Coach Claude Julien said he was still being evaluated and didn't give any specifics of the injury.

Not that he didn't have the respect of his teammates already, Thornton got kudos for taking on the unenviable task.

"I wasn't too sure if Thorty was going to fight him, but that's the type of guy he is, make sure no one else had to do the job," said Tyler Seguin. "I came in and saw and he looked like he was doing fine."

Daniel Paille also left the game midway through the third period when he got hich-sticked by Tyler Myers and he did not return.

"We're hoping he's going to be OK," said Julien.