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Mighty Ducks-Sabres Preview @NHLdotcom
Mighty Ducks-Sabres Preview

GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (12-12-4) at Buffalo Sabres (17-10-1).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres haven't been slowed by injuries to three of their top players.

They'll shoot for their 10th victory in 12 games when they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Forwards Daniel Briere and J.P. Dumont and No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller remain sidelined for the Sabres. Briere has missed the last seven games with an abdominal injury. Dumont will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, and isn't expected to back until mid-February.

Miller has missed about five weeks with a fractured thumb but had his first full day of practice Tuesday.

"Those (injuries) are huge losses for us, but we put a lot of hard work into everything," Buffalo winger Paul Gaustad said. "It shows the character we have in the locker room. Being desperate to win those two points every night has given us our little streak here."

That desperation was evident Sunday when the Sabres blew a threw-goal lead before bouncing back to beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 for their sixth straight road win. Derek Roy scored the go-ahead goal for Buffalo while Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville each added a goal and an assist. Gaustad, Chris Drury and Mike Grier also scored.

"It was good for us to bounce back," Grier said. "Right now, we have confidence that no matter the situation, we can win the game."

The Sabres boast a 7-0-2 record against the Mighty Ducks in their last nine meetings and have won six straight in the series. Buffalo's last loss to Anaheim came on Jan. 9, 1999, a 7-2 defeat.

The Mighty Ducks had used a stifling defense to win four straight games, but looked defenseless in a 6-2 loss to Carolina on Tuesday. They had allowed just one goal per game during their win streak.

"Everything that could go wrong, went wrong from our perspective," Mighty Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "A lot of things went their way. Their game plan worked better than ours and our lack of execution resulted in maybe our worst loss of the season."

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had been recovering from a groin injury, took the ice for the first time since Nov. 20 when he replaced Ilya Bryzgalov in the second period. Giguere gave up three goals on 17 shots.

Rob Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin each had a goal and an assist for Anaheim. Beauchemin's goal was the first of his NHL career.

The Mighty Ducks have outshot their last three opponents 100-69, including the Hurricanes 37-31.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 7): Mighty Ducks - 28 points, 4th place, 9 PB, Pacific Division. Sabres - 35 points, 2nd place (tied), 7 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Teemu Selanne, 15 goals and 24 points; Scott Niedermayer, 14 assists; Todd Fedoruk, 57 PIM. Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 13 goals; Teppo Numminen, 18 assists; Tim Connolly, 22 points; Adam Mair, 27 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 7): Mighty Ducks - Power play: 15.7 percent (27 for 172), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85 percent (165 for 194), 6th. Sabres - Power play: 21.4 percent (36 for 168), 4th. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (120 for 145), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Bryzgalov (6-9-0, 2.51 GAA); Giguere (6-3-4, 2.63). Sabres - Martin Biron (10-4-1, 3.20); Mika Noronen (1-2-0, 4.26).

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

LAST MEETING: Jan. 2, 2004, Sabres, 5-2. At Buffalo, Briere, Drury, Curtis Brown and Dmitri Kalinin each had a goal and an assist to lead the Sabres to victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 2-6-2 on the road; Sabres - 8-5-1 at home.

Associated Press

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