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Coyotes, Sabres enter fresh off shutout victories

by Mike G. Morreale /
SABRES (17-18-5) at COYOTES (19-13-8)
Last 10 --
Buffalo 5-4-1; Phoenix 5-4-1
Season series -- The first and only meeting of the season between the two clubs. Buffalo earned a two-game sweep last season, picking up a 2-1 win at HSBC Arena on Oct. 8 and then soaring to a 7-2 triumph in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 18.
Big story -- Both the Sabres and Coyotes are coming off impressive shutout victories on Thursday night.

Buffalo got goals from Luke Adam and Jochen Hecht in the first period and superb goaltending by Ryan Miller, who finished with 36 saves, en route to a 3-0 triumph in San Jose. It was Miller's third shutout of the season and the 20th of his career. Buffalo has won three of its last four games.

In Colorado, 30-year-old Coyotes backup goalie Jason LaBarbera, in because Ilya Bryzgalov was tending to a medical-related family situation, stopped all 34 shots in a workmanlike 2-0 victory against the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The victory gave the Coyotes consecutive wins for the first time since they strung together seven straight in November.
Team Scope:
Sabres -- The injury to leading scorer Derek Roy, who suffered a quad tear Dec. 23 that required season-ending surgery, has basically limited coach Lindy Ruff to a three-line rotation. Ruff would like to see his top-six forwards receive 20-to-21 minutes per night.
"If we're not playing back to back, I think the rest in between games is important if we start putting those minutes on those players," Ruff said. "Short-term, it worked and hopefully we can keep that up and stay with it."
Coyotes -- Defenseman Keith Yandle had more assists (14) than any other defenseman in the League during December despite the lack of scoring throughout the Coyotes' lineup. Now that the club has been hitting on all offensive cylinders -- scoring 20 goals in the past five games -- Yandle has produced 1 goal and 8 points in the last six games. He has 30 points in 39 games.
Who's hot -- Phoenix captain Shane Doan has an eight-game points streak, notching 6 goals and 15 points over that stretch. He has 9 goals and 20 points in the last 14 games, with a point in 12 of those contests. … Buffalo forward Thomas Vanek has a team-leading 16 goals, seven of which have come on the power play.
Injury report -- Kyle Turris of the Coyotes is questionable with an upper-body injury. … Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta (upper body) has been out since Dec. 28 and is expected back in a "short period of time," according to Ruff. Roy is gone for the season.
Stat pack -- Buffalo's Jason Pominville has assists in five of the team's last six games. During the streak, he has 6 assists and 9 points and has accrued 7 goals and 16 points in his last 16 games.
Puck drop -- Ruff notched his 500th career victory on Thursday against San Jose in what the veteran coach called his team's "best all-around effort of the year from a compete standpoint."
Ruff became the 16th NHL coach with 500 wins and joined Montreal's Toe Blake as the only ones who got all their wins with one team.
"It means I've had a lot of good players to get to that point," Ruff said. "To get 500 and be with one organization, the organization I grew up playing in, is special."

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