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Sabres-Islanders Preview @NHL

GAME: Buffalo Sabres (6-4-0) at New York Islanders (5-5-0).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.

The New York Islanders are a .500 team through the first 10 games of the season. There's no telling where they'd be without Miroslav Satan.

Satan faces his former team for the second time when the Buffalo Sabres take on the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Satan, a three-time 30-goal scorer for Buffalo, has been a key contributor for the Isles. He has scored at least one goal in six of 10 games and leads the team with seven goals.

"I don't know, I've put the same kind of preparation into every game," said Satan, who ranks among the top 10 in goal scoring among active players since the 1998-99 season. "Sometimes you can't put it in the net and then sometimes on five shots, you put in three. That's the way it goes. That's hockey."

The Islanders are coming off a 3-1 loss to the rival New York Rangers on Thursday, a game that saw them go 0-for-11 on the power play.

While Satan and captain Alexei Yashin have performed very well in the first three weeks of the season, several Islander forwards are struggling. Trent Hunter, Oleg Kvasha and Mike York have combined for only two goals.

Also hurting the Isles are the absences of right wing Mark Parrish and defenseman Brent Sopel. Parrish has missed the last two games with a strained hip while Sopel has also missed the last two with a wrist injury.

Buffalo hasn't missed Satan, according to Buffalo's Daniel Briere, the team leader with eight goals and 11 points.

"I think we have players that can step up and take a better lead offensively with this team," he said. "I think that Miro is a great hockey player and he will probably help the New York Islanders a lot. But I don't think he had any chemistry with the players that we had here."

The Sabres rallied for a pair of third-period goals, but came out on the short end of a 3-2 loss at New Jersey on Friday.

Briere and Drury scored for Buffalo, which has lost two straight after winning four of five.

"We had a lot of momentum in the third," Drury said. "It was too little, too late and they only needed one to win and they got it. We really didn't get our feet going until the third period and that just killed us."

Backup Martin Biron is expected to make his first start of the season Saturday. Biron, the team's No. 1 goaltender the past three seasons, has been relegated to a backup role behind rookie Ryan Miller this year.

Biron, whose last start was a shutout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in April 2004, did not play at all during the lockout.

"I'm trying to make everybody know that mentally I'm as strong as I can ever be," Biron said. "It doesn't matter if it's been a month or a year. I feel that I can regroup and refocus and get right back into it and play the way I'm supposed to play."

Giving Biron a start against the Islanders may not be a bad idea considering his 6-3-1 record and 1.65 goals-against average in his career against them.

STANDINGS: Sabres - 12 points, 3rd place (tied), 3 PB, Northeast Division. Islanders - 10 points, 3rd place (tied), 3 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Briere, 8 goals and 11 points; Thomas Vanek, 7 assists; Jochen Hecht, 12 PIM. Islanders - Satan, 7 goals; Alexei Zhitnik, 9 assists; Yashin, 12 points; Janne Niinimaa, 28 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sabres - Power play: 15.9 percent (11 for 69), tied for 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (38 for 46), 14th. Islanders - Power play: 15.7 percent (12 for 76), 21st. Penalty killing: 83.1 percent (69 for 83), tied for 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Miller (6-4-0, 0 SO , 2.74 GAA); Biron (no appearances). Islanders - Rick DiPietro (4-4-0, 3.05); Garth Snow (1-1-0, 3.96).

SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 1-0-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct 5; Sabres, 6-4. At Buffalo, N.Y., Briere had two goals and an assist, Maxim Afinogenov scored twice and former Islander J.P Dumont had a goal and an assist as Buffalo ended a seven-game losing streak against the Islanders.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 2-3-0 on the road; Islanders - 3-1-0 at home.

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