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Sabres face Panthers seeking second win for coach

by Pete Jensen

SABRES (7-12-1) at PANTHERS (6-9-4)


Last 10: Buffalo 4-6-0; Florida 3-4-3

Season series: Thursday marks the second of three meetings. Brian Campbell scored the tie-breaking goal against his former team in the third period when Florida rallied from a 3-1 deficit to capture a 4-3 victory in Buffalo on Feb. 3. The teams close the season series March 28 in Sunrise, Fla.

Big story: Two days after the Sabres earned their first win under interim coach Ron Rolston, 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they go for the Sunshine State sweep at BB&T Center. Florida looks to make it two straight after an impressive 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. This is the end of Florida's three-game homestand.

Team scope:

Sabres: Buffalo's four-game losing streak is history, and two players who were in dire need of strong performances helped make it happen.

Goalie Ryan Miller stopped 30 of 31 shots, and defenseman Tyler Myers scored in the opening minute of the third period to finally get the Sabres' new coach on the winning track. For Miller, it was his second outing of the season when he allowed fewer than two goals. For Myers, his third goal of the season snapped a four-game pointless streak.

The Sabres will take the positive reinforcement any way they can get it. After all, a winning streak has to start somewhere.

"The only way you can build your confidence is to put a game together, then hopefully come back and play well in the fourth period and the fifth period," Rolston told the Buffalo News. "That’s kind of our concentration right now after the last game. The message is that [Thursday's] first period is the next step in trying to build that confidence."

Panthers: After dropping a 4-1 decision on Sunday to the Boston Bruins, Florida got its swagger back thanks to a career night from forward Tomas Kopecky. The team needed every bit of it to hold off a second-period surge from the Penguins.

After the Panthers scored four power-play goals over the first 29 minutes of Tuesday's game, Pittsburgh got three goals to close out the second period and draw even. In a game that could have gone either way, Tomas Fleischmann answered the call with a goal early in the third period and Kopecky added an empty-netter with one minute to go to complete his hat trick.

"When things start happening for you, it makes our job a lot easier and the guys go out there, they feel good about themselves and make quality plays," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen told

Who's hot: Sabres forward Thomas Vanek snapped a three-game pointless streak in Tuesday's win, setting up both goals. … Kopecky has six goals and an assist over his past six games.

Injury report: Buffalo's Ville Leino (hip) and Alexander Sulzer (lower body) are on injured reserve. The Sabres also likely will be without Jordan Leopold (upper body). … Florida's Scottie Upshall (ankle) and Kris Versteeg (upper body) practiced Wednesday and are listed as questionable, according to the Miami Herald. The Panthers are expected to be without Filip Kuba (upper body), Ed Jovanovski (knee), Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and Michael Caruso (wrist). Stephen Weiss will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game for personal reasons.

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