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Devils, Sabres both looking to find their way

by Mike G. Morreale
SABRES (4-9-2) at DEVILS (4-10-1)


Last 10:
Buffalo 3-6-1; New Jersey 3-7-0

Season series --
This is the third of four meetings this season. The Devils scored a 1-0 overtime decision back on Oct. 13 in Buffalo on a goal by Ilya Kovalchuk and the Sabres took a 6-1 victory 10 days later in New Jersey to spoil the starting debut for Devils goalie Johan Hedberg. The teams split the 2009-10 series.

Big story --
Two teams struggling to find their way this season -- Buffalo and New Jersey are respectively ranked 14th and 15th in the Eastern Conference -- are also hoping to have their starting goalies back sometime soon. Buffalo's Ryan Miller (sore leg muscle), who is 3-5-2 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .902 save percentage, has missed three games. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff ruled Miller out against the Devils, and is hoping last season's Vezina Trophy winner could return Thursday against the Rangers. Meanwhile, New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (bruised right elbow), who missed last Friday's game against the Rangers, is 3-8-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .904 save percentage. Brodeur, who missed practice on Tuesday, told reporters on Monday that his elbow was improving, but still too sore to play.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- The Sabres snapped a five-game winless streak on Saturday via a 3-2 shootout decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jochen Hecht scored with 13.1 seconds left in regulation to pull the Sabres even and rookie Tyler Ennis beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the shootout to finally end it. Rookie goalie Jhonas Enroth replaced an injured Miller and earned his first NHL victory, making 29 saves during the game, before stopping four of five Toronto attempts in the shootout. Buffalo boosted its record on the road to 4-3-1. Lindy Ruff's squad is 0-6-1 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

Devils --
New Jersey is still seeking its first win at home (0-5-1). The team's worst start on home ice through six games was in 1983-84, when it began the year 0-6-0. New Jersey has also scored a League-low 25 goals -- Jason Arnott owns a team-leading 4 goals. General Manager Lou Lamoriello, whose team has lost three of their last four, placed wing Zach Parise on injured reserve on Monday, activated defenseman Matthew Corrente from IR and recalled forward Mattias Tedenby from their minor-league affiliate. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov returned to the lineup on Friday against the Rangers following a 12-game absence with a broken nose suffered Oct. 9.

Who's hot -- Buffalo's Paul Gaustad leads the League with a 64.9-percent faceoff winning percentage (124 of 191). He is 20-for-30 (67 percent) on the draw on the power play and 71-for-122 (58.2 percent) on the road. Gaustad finished the 2009-10 season ranked sixth in the NHL with a faceoff percentage of 57.4.

Injury report -- Forwards Nathan Gerbe (fractured jaw) and Drew Stafford (upper body) and goalie Miller (sore leg muscle) are out for the Sabres. … Parise (knee), Bryce Salvador (concussion), Jacob Josefson (hand) and Mark Fraser (hand) are out for the Devils. Brodeur is doubtful, while forward Brian Rolston (sports hernia surgery) and defenseman Colin White (flu) are questionable.

Stat pack -- The Sabres have just one power-play goal in the last five games, going 1-for-20 over that stretch. Their power play has actually been shut out in nine of their 15 games this season.

Puck drop --
"It's getting frustrating," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We all can read the standings and see where we are and the games we've played and the games in hand teams have on us and where we could be when it's all sorted out. But we can't concern ourselves with that so much. We need to find a way to get some wins ourselves, keep the effort where it's been, but learn to play a little bit smarter."

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