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Sabres, Avs prepare for rare matchup

by Deborah Francisco
SABRES (16-18-4) AT AVALANCHE (20-14-5)

TV – MSG-B (HD), ALT (HD).

Last 10: Buffalo 5-5-0; Colorado 5-4-1.

Season Series – This is the first and only meeting between the Avalanche and Sabres this season. In their one and only meeting last season, Colorado snapped a six-game winning streak for Buffalo with a 4-3 shootout win. Matt Duchene notched two goals in that contest.

Big Story – The Sabres are looking to extend a two-game win streak on Tuesday night and to crawl back up the Eastern Conference standings after a rocky first half of the season while Colorado hopes to snap a two-game losing streak.

Team Scope:

Sabres – Buffalo notched a hard-fought victory over the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins in a 7-6 shootout victory on Saturday night. That victory would not have been possible without the dazzling performance of Drew Stafford, who tallied his second hat trick in eight games to power the Sabres past the Bruins. Two of Stafford's three goals were come-from-behind tallies including the final game-tying goal in the closing seconds of the third period.

 "You don't want to fold up when you're down. It's not in your game plan," said Stafford. "We knew if we kept battling, we had a chance to take this game."

This hard fought comeback came after Buffalo allowed four goals on the first 11 shots of the game.

Avalanche – Colorado is coming off of two bitter division losses to Western Canadian rivals. Both contests were decided by a one-goal difference. After falling 3-2 to the Calgary Flames on New Year's Eve, Colorado also dropped a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

It was a tough loss for Colorado to stomach after Paul Stastny cut Vancouver's lead in half at the 13:35 mark of the third period and the squad nearly tied the score several times in the final five minutes, but for Colorado the effort was too late to come back against the streaking Vancouver Canucks, who have not lost a game in regulation since Dec. 5. Colorado was 0-5 on the power play on Sunday night.

"Once we did finally get set up, I think we were trying to force it," Stastny, who scored his 300th career point in the game, told the Denver Post.  "They challenged us pretty hard, and we had to compete hard to get it out. Once we did that, we tried for force shots sometimes rather than just set it up."

Who's Hot – Stafford notched his fourth career hat trick and second in eight games on Saturday night. Thomas Vanek leads the Sabres in goals so far this season with 14 and notched a goal and a helper on Saturday. … Stastny is tied with Duchene for the team's leading goal-scorer honors with 15 on the season. Rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk continues to impress with 19 points on the season (5 goals, 14 assists).

Injury Report – Buffalo will be without No. 1 center Derek Roy (torn quad) for the rest of the season, and Patrick Kaleta is out with an upper body injury. … The Avs are without Peter Mueller (head), Kyle Cumiskey (head),Kyle Quincey (shoulder) and Chris Stewart (hand). Forward Cody McLeod (groin) is day-to-day.

Stat Pack – Colorado is tied for the League lead in overtime wins with five, tied with Phoenix. Colorado and Buffalo have twice resolved games in overtime and twice in a shootout.

Puck Drop – Peter Budaj is expected to start in net for Colorado on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

 "Craig (Anderson) has played the last three games and I've said all along that Peter was going to get his share of games," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "I thought Peter played well in the Detroit game (last Monday), and we came up with a point in that game, so I just think it's the right time to get him back in there."
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