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Goaltender Miller sits as Sabres visit Blues

by David Kalan

SABRES (21-45-9) at BLUES (51-17-7)


Last 10: Buffalo 2-7-1; St. Louis 7-3-0

Season series: The St. Louis Blues won their only previous game this season against the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 at Scottrade Center on Nov. 19, 2013. This will be the last time they meet.

Big story: Facing his former team for the first time since being traded on Feb. 28, Ryan Miller isn't expecting to see much action. Goaltender Brian Elliott will start for St. Louis, which is looking to keep pace in the Presidents' Trophy race while closing in on its second division title in three seasons.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Six of Buffalo's seven remaining games are against teams in the thick of the playoff hunt. So the Sabres will look to play spoiler, a role they enjoyed Tuesday night when they edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a nine-round shootout.

The win came in coach Ted Nolan's first game after signing a contract extension that formally dropped the "interim" tag from his title. It was also the first NHL win for goalie Nathan Lieuwen.

"I felt like I belong here," said Lieuwen, who stopped 33 of 35 shots. "That's a great feeling, when you're in the NHL and you can tell yourself that you belong here and you can play at this level and you can do really well at this level."

The Sabres' visit to St. Louis opens a three-game road trip. Five of their final seven games will be away from Buffalo.

Blues: The decision to start Elliott instead of Miller is likely a result of the Blues' grueling final schedule. While The Sabres are looking to 2014-15, St. Louis is a Stanley Cup contender that is nipping at the Boston Bruins' heels in the chase for the League's best record. Overtaking Boston could be tricky, however, as all of St. Louis' remaining games after Thursday are against teams in playoff position or still within striking distance. So the last-place Sabres may be the last opportunity for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to give Miller a night off before the regular season ends.

Miller is 10-3-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average since joining the Blues and was stellar in St. Louis' last game on Tuesday night, stopping 31 shots in a 1-0 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"He was terrific," Ken Hitchcock said of Miller. "He was focused and competitive and whatever else we needed of him. We needed him badly."

Who's hot: Sabres forward Tyler Ennis scored two goals against the Devils on Tuesday. ... Blues forward Alexander Steen has three goals and four assists in the past five games.

Injury report: Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers is likely to be back after missing the team's win against the Devils for the birth of his child. Forwards Torrey Mitchell (undisclosed) and Zenon Konopka (back) and defenseman Alexander Sulzer (upper body) are all questionable. Goalie Jhonas Enroth (leg) is not expected to be back while defenseman Tyler Myers (upper body), goalie Michal Neuvirth (lower body) and forward Chris Stewart (ankle) are all out. … Blues defenseman Barret Jackman (lower body) and forwards Steen (upper body) and Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) are out. Defenseman Jordan Leopold (ankle) will play.

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