The Buffalo Sabres suddenly have a nice little race going.

No, not their playoff chase, though that has finally moved into a place worthy of discussion. Instead, the Sabres are experiencing a goal-scoring race. Normally the exclusive domain of Thomas Vanek, who has led the team in goals each of the previous four seasons, the team leader board now has two names.

Vanek is on top with 21 goals after scoring twice Tuesday in Tampa Bay. Drew Stafford is right behind at 20, courtesy of his third hat trick of the season during the 7-4 victory over the Lightning.

If they continue to push each other, they could push the Sabres into the playoffs. Buffalo is just four points behind eighth-place Carolina with two games (and four possible points) in hand heading into tonight's game against at Florida.

"Obviously, I'm paid to contribute offensively, so anytime I can help the team win it's a good feeling," said Vanek, who is pleased to see another player pouring pucks into the net. "Sure it's good. It's a team sport. Some nights, one guy can make the difference, but over the season we're going to need scoring from more than one, and Drew's done a great job."

Over the last eight weeks, no one in Blue and Gold has done a better job than Stafford and Vanek. Stafford has 16 goals in his past 20 games, while Vanek has eight goals and 22 points in his past 15.

"When you get those two guys scoring like they have been, it's going to help us win games," defenseman Mike Weber said Wednesday.