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Sabres deal with mounting injuries @NHLdotcom

AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) -Less than 24 hours after watching two more players go down with injuries, including second-leading scorer Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff refused to sulk.

"We still have a lot of good players," he said after Friday's practice. "We've got a good defense and we've got good goaltenders. We may be a little bit young up front now, but I'm excited about watching these guys play."

The guys Ruff referred to are rookies Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur, both of whom were called up from AHL Rochester on Thursday night following Buffalo's overtime win over Edmonton. They will replace Afinogenov, who needs surgery to repair a left wrist he broke in the second period after falling and landing awkwardly, and Jiri Novotny, who aggravated a high left ankle sprain with 7 minutes left when he checked Oilers defenseman Matt Greene.

Afinogenov is expected to miss at least six weeks, while Novotny is out indefinitely.

Last week Buffalo lost forward Paul Gaustad (torn tendon) for the season, and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (broken left hand) for about a month.

"You look around and there have been cases where teams have lost key players and have been better at times," Ruff said. "You get a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of excitement from players that are getting the opportunity to play. I think that's what you're going to see."

The injuries come as the Sabres are gearing up for the stretch drive of the regular season. They also arrive less than two weeks before the trade deadline.

"This doesn't change my mind-set," Ruff said. "I'm excited about pushing forward."

Stafford and MacArthur already played in Buffalo this season. Stafford has two goals and five points in 19 games, while MacArthur was scoreless in two games. They both saw Afinogenov and Novotny go down while watching Thursday's game together in Rochester, and both received the call to pack their bags at nearly the same time.

"The pressure's on a little bit, but that makes for a better player," he said. "It's crunch time. They're going to expect a lot from me right off the bat.

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