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Sabres go for fourth consecutive win on busy Friday

by John Kreiser
The Buffalo Sabres are riding a wave of early-season success -- at 3-0-1, they're the only team in the East that hasn't lost in regulation, and they've won three in a row while allowing just three goals.

They'll try to make it four in a row when the New York Islanders come to town Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) in one of six games on the NHL schedule.

The Sabres enjoyed one of their biggest wins in years on Tuesday when they routed the Detroit Red Wings 6-2. Buffalo scored four times in the second period to blow the game open -- but the outburst came at a price. Star forward Thomas Vanek wiped out into the end boards after scoring his second goal of the night and didn't return; the Sabres say he's not likely to suit up due to an upper-body injury.

The Islanders own three points but have yet to win a game -- they are 0-1-3 and coming off a 2-1 home loss to Los Angeles on Monday.

Another team riding a three-game winning streak, the New Jersey Devils, returns home to host the Atlanta Thrashers (7 p.m. ET, NHL Network-Canada). The Devils lost their first two games at the Prudential Center, then hit the road and won their next three, including a 3-2 shootout win over Washington on Monday.

Atlanta has won two of its first three and hasn't played since a 4-2 loss at Ottawa on Saturday.

The Florida Panthers host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET in a battle of team trying to get back on the right track. The Panthers have dropped four in a row after a season-opening shootout win over Chicago in Helsinki, while the Flyers head for the Sunshine State after two home losses -- 5-4 to Pittsburgh and 3-2 to Anaheim in a shootout, a game in which they led 2-0 with less than seven minutes left in regulation.

The Boston Bruins hit the road for the first time this season when they pay a rare visit to the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Starting the season with five consecutive home games didn't help the Bruins much -- they went 2-3-0 and are coming off a 4-3 loss to Colorado on Monday. At 2-0-3, Dallas hasn't lost in regulation and routed Nashville 6-0 on Wednesday.

Both Alberta teams are home Friday night. The Calgary Flames will try to regroup against the Vancouver Canucks after a two-day nightmare earlier this week. The Flames blew a 5-0 lead and lost 6-5 in overtime at Chicago on Monday, then couldn't hold a 1-0 lead and were beaten 2-1 at Columbus on Tuesday.

The Canucks have been off since beating Dallas 4-3 in a shootout at home on Sunday night.

About 180 miles away in Edmonton, the Oilers start a three-game homestand against the struggling Minnesota Wild. Edmonton is 3-2-1 despite Wednesday night's 4-3 loss in Chicago, a game in which they were outshot 38-19. "The score was flattering to us," an unhappy coach Pat Quinn said.

Wild coach Todd Richards was equally unhappy after his team's 3-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday that completed an 0-for-3 swing through California and dropped Minnesota to 1-4-0. The Wild trailed 2-0 less than nine minutes into the game and got within a goal only by scoring with 9.1 seconds left in regulation.

Friday's Games:

Thrashers at Devils, 7 PM
Islanders at Sabres, 7:30 PM
Flyers at Panthers, 7:30 PM
Bruins at Stars, 8:30 PM
Flames at Canucks, 9:00 PM

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