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Sabres-Avalanche Preview

Saturday, 10.25.2008 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Sabres-Avalanche Preview
Buffalo Sabres vs. Colorado Avalanche

Scoring goals is not the problem so far this season for the Colorado Avalanche.

It's keeping pucks out of the net.

The Avalanche will face a challenge on both ends of the ice Saturday when they host the well-rounded Buffalo Sabres.

Colorado (4-3-0) has 28 goals to rank among the league leaders, and has gotten goals from 16 players with Milan Hejduk's six topping the list.

Despite scoring 18 times in four straight wins, Colorado has won two of those contests by just one goal. The Avalanche scored 10 times in their first three games but suffered three consecutive one-goal losses.

That's because Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft have all but neutralized Colorado's offensive output by giving up 23 goals. Budaj and Raycroft have combined for a 3.29 goals-against average and an .870 save percentage, but Budaj allowed one goal on 26 shots in a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

The Avalanche got three goals in a six-minute span in the second period to rally from an early deficit, and Joe Sakic added his 625th career goal in the third to put the game away.

Paul Stastny scored his second goal of the season and has recorded a point in each of the first seven games, the longest run by an Avs player since Sakic had a point in eight consecutive contests to open the 1999-00 season.

"The most important thing is that we're winning," Stastny said. "If you get the points or don't get the points, as long as you keep winning, it's good to be in the locker room and around these guys."

Buffalo hasn't had trouble stopping teams or scoring, and that balance has helped the Sabres (6-0-1) remain one of three NHL teams that haven't lost in regulation.

The Sabres are also among the league's best offensive teams with 24 goals, led by Thomas Vanek's eight. Vanek scored the tying goal in Thursday's 4-3 overtime win over the previously unbeaten Minnesota Wild. Derek Roy followed with his first goal of the season 44 seconds into overtime as Buffalo completed a rally from a 3-1 deficit.

The Sabres are making comebacks a habit. They beat Boston 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday after trailing 2-0 midway through the second period. Their only loss came in a shootout at Atlanta last Saturday, when they rallied from two goals down to force overtime.

"We've been showing this all year," said Vanek, who also leads the team with 11 points. "Obviously it's not something we look for, to be down late in the game, but it shows good character for the team - never quitting."

The Sabres' Ryan Miller has allowed nine goals in winning all five starts. Along with backup Patrick Lalime, Buffalo's goalies have combined for a 1.65 GAA and a .940 save percentage.

The Sabres and Avalanche have played just twice since 2003, splitting those games. In their last meeting on March 7, 2007, Wojtek Wolski scored a third-period goal to lead the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Oct 25 '08BUF 1 at COL 2 - SOR. Smyth
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
T. Vanek88311+6831
A. Kotalik8437+1421
J. Pominville8246+1000
C. MacArthur8325-11020
D. Roy8145+3401
M. Afinogenov8055+0200
J. Spacek8134+2610
D. Paille8134+1000
T. Lydman8044+5400
T. Numminen8044+21000
D. Stafford8213+1200
A. Sekera8033-1600
C. Rivet6033+12900
A. Mair8202+12301
H. Tallinder8022+1200
J. Hecht2101+1010
N. Paetsch2011+0000
P. Kaleta8000+03200
A. Peters8000-11800
M. Ellis6000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Miller65-0-1101671.60.940
P. Lalime21-0-13611.44.951
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Stastny82911+3821
M. Hejduk8639+3031
J. Sakic8279+1200
R. Smyth8437+0421
W. Wolski8156+1600
J. Leopold8235+2600
D. Tucker8134+1400
J. Liles8134+0210
M. Svatos7134+2410
C. McLeod8303+11200
I. Laperriere8123+03500
B. Guite5123+2400
D. Jones7112-2000
C. McCormick5112+21900
R. Salei8022+4400
B. Clark8101+3200
T. Arnason8101+1201
S. Hannan8011+0200
A. Foote8000+1400
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Budaj63-3-0181592.98.887
A. Raycroft22-0-06483.00.875