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Sabres-Canucks Preview @NHLdotcom
Sabres-Canucks Preview

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (29-13-3) at Vancouver Canucks (26-15-5).

TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres look to continue their surprisingly dominant play this season when they visit the Vancouver Canucks in the second game of a six-game road trip.

The Sabres followed up a 10-1 pounding of Los Angeles on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Edmonton on Monday to open their longest trip of the season.

"Everybody was waiting to see how we would react after the big win at home," said Teppo Numminen, who had two assists against the Oilers. "This was huge for us."

It was the first time Buffalo earned a victory in Edmonton since March 27, 1998. Now the Sabres will try to win in Vancouver for the first time since Feb. 28, 1999.

"I don't know what the record is, but it feels like forever since we won here," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said after Monday's game.

The Sabres had 11 power-play chances, their highest total since they had 11 in the season opener against the New York Islanders. Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov converted two of those chances for Buffalo, which has the league's second-ranked power play at 22.2 percent.

"We're in Canada, so I might get to see it on TV," Connolly said of his goal. "We get a clutch goal when we need it, and that's what happened."

Buffalo, 14-6-1 on the road, is 6-1-1 against Western Conference opponents.

The Canucks continued their strong play Monday, beating Pittsburgh 4-2 for their fifth win in six games.

The game was penalty filled, and Vancouver sealed the victory with a power-play goal from Henrik Sedin in the third period.

"It was a fairly physical game," said Brendan Morrison, who had a goal and an assist. "But that's the way we have to play to be successful."

The Canucks scored two goals on the power play and improved to 10-for-34 with the man advantage over the last five games.

"We're starting to build a little consistency and that was our goal coming into the second half (of the season) here," Morrison said. "We seem to be rolling here a bit. The key is to play good defensively."

Todd Bertuzzi scored a goal, and has four in his last two games after being held without one in his previous 10 contests.

Vancouver is 8-1 against the Eastern Conference. The Canucks host Montreal on Saturday before leaving on a season-high seven-game trip.

STANDINGS: Sabres - 61 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northeast Division. Canucks - 57 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 18 goals; Connolly, 28 assists; Chris Drury and Connolly, 37 points; Andrew Peters, 53 PIM. Canucks - Markus Naslund, 22 goals and 50 points; H. Sedin, 30 assists; Bertuzzi, 76 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sabres - Power play: 22.2 percent (60 for 270), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (207 for 240), 2nd. Canucks - Power play: 19.5 percent (60 for 307), 7th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (231 for 283), 19th.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Ryan Miller (13-6-0, 2.19 GAA); Martin Biron (15-5-3, 2.97). Canucks - Alex Auld (18-11-3, 2.78); Maxime Ouellet (0-1-1, 4.39).

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

LAST MEETING: Oct. 20, 2003; Canucks, 6-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, six Canucks scored, and Trevor Linden had the game-winner.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 14-6-1 on the road; Canucks - 16-3-3 at home.

Associated Press
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