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Sabres-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom
Sabres-Avalanche Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (16-10-1) at Colorado Avalanche (14-9-3).

TIME: Sunday, 9 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres, one of the hottest teams in the NHL, travel to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche in the teams' only meeting of the season.

Buffalo is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games, a record matched only by defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay during the same span.

The Sabres suffered their only regulation loss in their last 10 contests Friday night, 5-0 to San Jose that ended their five-game winning streak. Buffalo was victimized by an inspired Sharks team that was playing its first game with newly acquired star Joe Thornton.

"A big trade like that gave them a lot of momentum right off the bat," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of San Jose's deal that brought Thornton from Boston. "I thought they were pretty fired up."

The Sabres' only other defeat during their past 10 games was 3-2 in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Nov. 22.

Goaltender Martin Biron has been a key player in Buffalo's surge, going 7-0-1 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in the last 10 games.

The Sabres' Brian Campbell and Tim Connolly each have 10 points during the 8-1-1 stretch, and Campbell and Ales Kotalik have a team-high five goals apiece over that span.

The Avalanche had a three-game winning streak stopped in a 5-2 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday.

The Canucks' Brendan Morrison scored the winning goal late in the second period when defensemen Karlis Skrastins and Brett Clark collided at center ice trying to play a long pass.

Morrison collected the loose puck, skated in alone on Colorado goalie David Aebischer and slipped it past him for a 3-2 lead.

"Defensively we were chasing tonight, but at 2-2 it was fluke play with a collision that turned out to be the deciding play," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "That third goal turned out to be a pivotal goal and they went from there."

Colorado captain Joe Sakic scored his fifth goal in four games Wednesday. Sakic has 28 goals and 72 points in 54 games against the Sabres.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Sabres - 33 points, 3rd place (tied), 7 PB, Northeast Division. Avalanche - 31 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Kotalik, 13 goals; Teppo Numminen, 17 assists; Daniel Briere and Connolly, 20 points; Maxim Afinogenov and Paul Gaustad, 24 PIM. Avalanche - Svatos, 12 goals; Alex Tanguay, 19 assists and 28 points; Ian Laperriere, 50 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 3): Sabres - Power play: 21 percent (35 for 166), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (115 for 139), 12th. Avalanche - Power play: 18.6 percent (32 for 172), 11th. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (127 for 150), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Biron (9-4-1, 3.14 GAA); Mika Noronen (1-2-0, 4.26). Avalanche - Aebischer (11-6-0, 1 SO, 3.20); Peter Budaj (3-3-3, 2.69).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 26, 2003; Sabres, 3-1. At Denver, Chris Drury, acquired from Colorado during the previous offseason, scored his first game-winner with 2:29 left and Biron made 32 saves in Buffalo's third straight victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 8-5-0 on the road; Avalanche - 7-3-3 at home.

Associated Press
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