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Sabres conclude season series with Flyers

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (33-26-3) at SABRES (33-20-9)

Last 10: Philadelphia 7-3-0; Buffalo 2-6-2

Season series:
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Sabres have won the two most recent meetings, both in Philadelphia. In the most recent game, Nov. 27, the Sabres' Tim Connolly scored twice in the third period to break a 2-2 tie en route to a 4-2 Buffalo win.

Big Story: Who's in goal for the Flyers? After getting a vote of confidence from GM Paul Holmgren, Michael Leighton had one of his worst games of the season Wednesday against Florida, allowing four goals on 26 shots and getting pulled in the second period.

We know who's going to be in goal for the Sabres, but it's the rest of the team that has coach Lindy Ruff worried. Their offense is 16th in the League in goals per game, but they've scored two goals or fewer in nine of their last 13 games (3-8-2).

Team Scope:

Flyers -- While the bucket of goals scored by the Flyers and Panthers Wednesday might have been fun to watch, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette wasn't slightly amused, calling it "mindless hockey."

"I'm worried with the way we've played the game," Laviolette said after the 7-4 loss. "We played mindless hockey. You need to execute in your system, offensively and defensively to be successful in either one. Things are set in stone in our system of what you can and can't do. They didn't come in to play. … The bottom line is, we needed to win a hockey game and we played poorly. We got what we deserved."

Leighton turned in one of his worst outings since joining the club, allowing a couple of soft goals. The players, though, weren't ready to pin this loss on their goaltending.

"How many chances did they have?" Chris Pronger asked a reporter. When the response was "a lot," Pronger said, "You can’t ask a goalie to stop a lot. … A lot isn’t very good."

Sabres -- Raffi Torres is getting a quick indoctrination in how Buffalo does things. Acquired Wednesday from the Blue Jackets, Torres skated on a line with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville at Thursday's practice.

While chemistry could take some time to find, coach Lindy Ruff has no doubt Torres -- whose 19 goals with the Blue Jackets make him the Sabres' new team leader -- will fit in just fine.

"We've seen him play and we know what he can do," Ruff told reporters. "He's a big, strong kid with a great shot. It may take a little bit of time. It may take time to breed a little bit of familiarity. We know what he brings."

For anyone who wasn't sure, Torres provided his own description.

"On a good day, I'm bringing a guy who is going to go hard up and down on the wall, trying to finish some hits and score some goals along the way," he said.

Who's Hot -- Flyers center Jeff Carter has goals now in six straight games. His 29 goals on the season are ninth in the League. … Sabres center Derek Roy has 6 goals and 9 points in his last 11 games. He has 15 points in 21 career games against the Flyers.

Injury Report --
Flyers goalie Ray Emery (hip) is out for the season. Defenseman Oskars Bartulis is on injured reserve due to a groin injury he suffered playing for Latvia in the Olympics. Forward Darroll Powe likely won't play Friday due to a bruised foot. … Sabres forward Paul Gaustad likely won't play due to an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack -- Thirty-five years ago, the Flyers and Sabres met in the 1975 Stanley Cup Final, marking the first time two expansion-era teams met for the Stanley Cup.

Puck Drop -- A Toronto native, Torres is looking forward to debuting with the Sabres at home Friday. He'll have a large number of family and friends in attendance, but it won't come cheap.
"It's great," Torres said with a laugh. "Coming to Buffalo is going to cost me about five grand (in tickets) on Friday night."

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