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Hedberg gets first start as Devils face Sabres

by Dan Rosen
SABRES (2-5-1) at DEVILS (2-4-1)


Season series --
The Devils earned their first win of the season with a 1-0 overtime win in Buffalo on Oct. 13 on Ilya Kovalchuk's goal. They will play again Nov. 10 in Newark.

Big Story -- Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur finished first and third, respectively, in the Vezina Trophy voting last season, but it's possible that neither plays Saturday in Newark due to back-to-backs. Miller played Friday against Ottawa and the Devils have a game Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, so don't be shocked if it's Patrick Lalime vs. Johan Hedberg at Prudential Center. Hedberg, who told reporters Friday that he was starting, will be making his first start as a Devil. Lalime gave up four goals at Chicago on Oct. 16 in his only start so far this season.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- Just when Buffalo thought it was going to get its season heading in the right direction, it took another step backward Friday night with a 4-2 loss at home against Ottawa, previously the team with the fewest amount of points in the NHL. Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson completed a hat trick with an empty-net goal for his 1,000th career point. Buffalo thoroughly dominated Atlanta on Wednesday, winning 4-1 and outshooting the Thrashers, 42-18. The Sabres had 36 shots against Ottawa, but only Tim Connolly (twice) could beat goalie Brian Elliott. Saturday's game is the Sabres' third in four nights.

Devils -- The Devils got the tonic for what was ailing them Thursday in Montreal when the puck finally started going in the net and Brodeur was as strong as he's been all season, making 29 saves for his 112th career shutout. The key now is to build on the win with another one against the Sabres. They are 0-for-4 at Prudential Center this season and they've scored only 7 goals in front of their home fans. After Saturday, the Devils won't return to their home rink until Nov. 5 after playing six straight road games starting Sunday across the river in Manhattan. They then go west to San Jose, Anaheim, L.A., Vancouver and finally Chicago before coming home to play the Rangers.

Who's Hot -- After a dismal start, including a minus-7 through six games, Devils veteran center Jason Arnott scored a goal, had an assist and was a plus-2 Thursday in Montreal. Rookie defenseman Matt Taormina has 2 goals and 2 assists over his last four games. … For Buffalo, Connolly scored his second and third goals of the season in Friday's loss to Ottawa.

Injury Report --
The Devils are still without defensemen Anton Volchenkov (broken nose) and Mark Fraser (broken hand). Bryce Salvador and Brian Rolston are on injured reserve. … Buffalo center Jason Pominville (concussion) and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn (groin) are both on the road to recovery. Morrisonn skated with the team Friday morning.
Stat Pack --
Hedberg is 12-2-2 with a 2.60 goals-against average and one shutout for his career against the Sabres. Lalime is 8-12-1 with a 2.39 GAA and two shutouts in 21 career appearances against the Devils. … Both of Buffalo's wins this season have come on the road while the Devils are 0-3-1 at home.

Puck Drop --
In talking about his pending first start as a Devil, Hedberg told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record on Friday that he wants to "make sure I'm on top of my game and give my best effort so I can be trusted." He's in his 10th NHL season, has played in 294 games, won 123 of them, and has 14 career shutouts. Something tells us he can be trusted.

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