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Ailing Miller unlikely as Sabres welcome in Penguins

by Dave Lozo
PENGUINS (12-8-2) at SABRES (8-11-3)


Last 10:
Pittsburgh 6-3-1; Buffalo 5-4-1

Season series:
This is the first of four meetings. The Penguins took three out of four against the Sabres last season.

Big story: The Sabres had won three of four after getting goaltender Ryan Miller back from injury and seemed to be headed in the right direction. But Miller tweaked his groin and missed the Sabres' 2-1 loss to the Lightning on Saturday. He is unlikely to play in Wednesday night against the Pens.

Team Scope:

Penguins: On Monday, the Pens let a victory slip from within their grasp. They score two goals in 38 seconds to take a late third-period lead against the Rangers. But the Pens gave up a shorthanded goal in the final minutes that tied the game, then lost 3-2 to the Rangers in overtime.

The devastating loss has served as fuel for their three-game winning streak. The Pens got a late goal from Chris Conner to beat the Panthers 3-2 on Monday.

"Our second wasn't great," Sidney Crosby said. "They probably played better. The third was probably 50-50. … A big goal from Conner, and (Marc-Andre Fleury) made some big saves. It wasn't going to be pretty, but we found a way."

Sabres: Patrick Lalime played well in place of Miller in the Sabres' loss to the Lightning. He made 20 saves, but his turnover led directly to the game-winning goal by Adam Hall.

"I made a mistake and it cost us the game," said Lalime, who could get the call again Wednesday. "I made the wrong play there, tried to draw the guy in and made the wrong pass. I think it was just a bad pass. It always seems when I make a mistake, we pay for it somehow. I just can't make those."

Who's hot:
Crosby has been hot all season for the Pens, but his 9 goals and 11 assists in his last nine games represent an absolute tear. … Buffalo's Thomas Vanek has points in seven consecutive games.

Injury report: Penguins goalie Brent Johnson was expected to start Monday, but he was scratched with an illness. … The Sabres will be without a slew of important players besides Miller, including Tim Connolly (groin), Rob Niedermayer (knee) and Drew Stafford (upper body)

Stat pack:
The Sabres will be looking for their fourth straight win at home after starting the season 0-7-1 at HSBC Arena. … The Penguins have been shorthanded just seven times in their last four games.

Puck drop:
"At this point in my career, I'm still happy to be here. I love being in the NHL, and I'm going to do anything, whether it's being the sixth defenseman or the seventh defenseman, as long as I'm here, I'm happy." -- Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy, in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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