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Sabres and Kings face off in Berlin

by Pete Jensen

SABRES (1-0-0) at KINGS (1-0-0)

2011 Compuware NHL Premiere game in Berlin, Germany


Season series: Saturday's game between the Sabres and Kings in Berlin is the lone meeting between the two teams this season. Buffalo and Los Angeles met only once last season as well -- a pair of third-period goals lifted the Sabres to a 4-2 win in Buffalo on Nov. 19, 2010.

Big Story: Less than 24 hours after Buffalo and Los Angeles earned season opening victories in Finland and Sweden, respectively, the teams collide in Berlin for the final contest of the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere. On Friday, the Sabres showcased their offensive firepower in a 4-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, while the Kings used an overtime winner by Jack Johnson to squeak by the New York Rangers 3-2 in Stockholm.

Team Scope:

Sabres: The positive momentum from the Sabres' bold offseason carried over to Friday's season opener, as Thomas Vanek and new acquisition Ville Leino scored to give Buffalo a 2-0 advantage by the 8:30 mark in the first period.

"We changed the tone in the first 10 minutes having a two-goal lead," Vanek told "The puck was bouncing our way a little bit today, but it's something we work on all the time now. We harp on it -- getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there. I think it paid off early on and even later on."

After Anaheim's Nate Guenin countered early in the second period with a goal to cut the Ducks' deficit in half, new captain Jason Pominville responded with a back-breaking goal just over a minute later to turn the tide back in Buffalo's favor. Vanek then added his second goal later in the period, giving goaltender Ryan Miller -- who stopped 29 of 30 shots on the day -- more than enough support to close out a win in Buffalo's first contest of 2011-12.

Kings: While the Sabres offense flourished in their season opener, the Kings failed to convert on power-play opportunities throughout regulation. However, after Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh was called for tripping with 2:09 left in overtime, Los Angeles finally cashed in.

Defenseman Jack Johnson scored the game-winning goal during a 4-on-3 advantage with 52 seconds left in overtime to get the Kings off on the right foot.

Despite Los Angeles going 1 for 5 on the man advantage in the game, their clutch conversion in overtime is a step in the right direction after the unit's '10-11 power-play output (16.1 percent) ranked 21st in the league last season.

"You can't get frustrated," said Anze Kopitar, who scored a goal and assisted on Johnson's game-ending tally. "Obviously, [the Rangers] have some good penalty killers and a top-5 goalie in the league, [Henrik Lundqvist], but we stuck with [the power-play], and it came through for us."

After Jonathan Quick turned in a 24-save outing in Friday's win, Kings' coach Terry Murray announced backup Jonathan Bernier will get the nod against Buffalo.

Who's Hot: Vanek notched a three-point effort in Friday's season opener in Helsinki. ... Kopitar, the Kings' point leader in '10-11 who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in late March, registered a hat trick in a preseason win over Colorado and shined in Friday's regular season opener for L.A. with a two-point showing.

Injury Report: Buffalo forward and Germany native Jochen Hecht (head injury) is listed as day-to-day. ... Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner (lower body) did not play Friday. Murray told that Penner skated for 40 minutes in Thursday's practice and that his situation is improving.

Stat Pack: After failing to register a goal in his first six regular-season games of 2010-11, Vanek scored twice in Friday's season opener in Helsinki. ... Last season, the Kings tied for second in the League with 50 game-opening goals, compiling a 36-12-2 record when scoring first. In Friday's season opener against the Rangers, the trend continued as Kopitar opened the scoring midway through the first period.

Puck Drop: Expect Hecht to do everything possible to get on the ice. He and teammate Christian Ehrhoff are excited at the opportunity to play in the first-ever regular-season NHL game in their home country.

"It's really nice for us to be able to show German fans what we do over here in the NHL," Ehrhoff told

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