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Kings-Sabres Preview @NHLdotcom
Kings-Sabres Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (28-16-2) at Buffalo Sabres (27-13-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres' season-high six-game homestand hasn't been easy, but they can still finish with a winning record with a win over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings have lost two straight against the Sabres and are just 3-7-0 with one tie in their last 11 games in Buffalo. They'll also face a Sabres team that entered the homestand on a 17-2-2 run but has gone 2-2-1 since, including consecutive losses Saturday to the New Jersey Devils and Thursday to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Sabres, who begin a season-high six-game road trip after facing the Kings, trail the first-place Ottawa Senators by four points in the Northeast Division.

In Buffalo's 2-1 shootout loss to the Coyotes, Jason Pominville scored in the opening period to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead. The score remained that way until 1:31 of the third when Phoenix left wing Oleg Saprykin tied it.

Pominville had a chance to tie the score in the shootout and shot wide in the final round.

"The hole was there, but I just missed," said Pominville. "It's a tough situation to be the (third shooter), knowing you have to score. But those are the situations you want to be in."

Martin Biron had 39 saves in his first start since Dec. 29. Biron set a franchise record earlier this season by winning 13 consecutive starts in the absence of injured starter Ryan Miller, but he has dropped three in a row since Miller returned.

Miller lost his only career start against the Kings in a 4-1 defeat on Feb. 21, 2003.

Buffalo, already minus forwards J.P. Dumont and Daniel Briere due to sports hernias, likely will be without fourth-line center Adam Mair for this game. Mair suffered a concussion against the Coyotes and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff isn't sure how long Mair will be out.

"He's not well," Ruff said. "I'd put him in the serious category. He wasn't doing well, even at the end of the game."

The Kings are coming off one of their most convincing wins of the season, a 6-0 victory Thursday over the Boston Bruins.

Alexander Frolov recorded a hat trick in the third period and Mathieu Garon stopped 30 shots for his 20th win of the season and sixth career shutout.

"I really worked hard the first two periods but I couldn't score," said Frolov, who took a season-high 10 shots on goal. "I knew the only way to do that was to keep working and I finally got my chances in the third period."

Though they were outshot 14-10 in the final period, the Kings tallied four times. Frolov scored his goals in just over a 10-minute span, with the second one coming on a penalty shot.

Kings coach Andy Murray was pleased with his team's effort.

"We played solid tonight," he said. "We knew the Bruins would be aggressive tonight after their game against San Jose (a 6-2 Boston loss Tuesday), but we just kept battling."

STANDINGS: Kings - 58 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division. Sabres - 57 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Lubomir Visnovsky, 33 assists; Sean Avery, 144 PIM. Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 17 goals; Tim Connolly, 25 assists and 33 points; Maxim Afinogenov, 46 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.9 percent (50 for 315), 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (229 for 283), 21st. Sabres - Power play: 22 percent (55 for 250), 2nd. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (195 for 228), 3rd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (20-10-0, 2 SO, 2.62 GAA); Adam Hauser (no appearances); Sabres - Miller (11-6-0, 2.33); Biron (15-5-3, 2.97).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 13, 2004; Sabres, 8-3. At Buffalo, N.Y., Afinogenov scored twice during a four-goal third period in the Sabres' sixth win in seven games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 13-10-2 on the road; Sabres - 14-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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