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The Buffalo Sabres can tie the NHL record for longest winning streak to start a season with a victory Thursday over the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum.

The Toronto Maple Leafs began the 1993-94 season by winning their first 10 games. They won more than four games in a row just once after that, and finished the regular season second in the Central Division, two points behind the Detroit Red Wings.

Toronto then was ousted in five games by the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semifinals.

The NHL has chosen to recognize the Sabres' streak, which includes three wins by shootout. The Maple Leafs won nine in regulation and one in overtime during their run.

With Monday's 4-1 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens, the Sabres (9-0-0) have posted eight wins against 2005-06 playoff teams, including two against the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. Buffalo also has defeated three reigning division champs, and that list includes the Detroit Red Wings - which won the Presidents' Trophy last season after having the league's best record.

Still, at least one of the Sabres - who've won a franchise-record 14 in a row dating back to last season - doesn't see tying a 12-year-old mark as a cause for celebration.

"I don't see it like a big thing. But records are made to be broken, so why not break it if we can," defenseman Henrik Tallinder said.

The Sabres also understand early season success guarantees little as far as reaching the postseason.

"Yeah, I think it would be pretty neat in the midst of an 82-game season, but it's not something we were or are thinking about," co-captain Chris Drury said. "The old saying, 'You're only as good as your last game.' Our motto is: You're only as good as your next game."

Drury, who had a career-high 30 goals last season, is tied with Atlanta's Marian Hossa for the league lead with 10.

Another reason the Sabres are on the verge of matching the record has been goaltender Ryan Miller. A 30-game winner in an injury-shortened 2005-06 season, Miller has won all seven of his starts while posting a 2.49 goals-against average.

Miller has been stellar on the road, going 3-0 with a 1.58 GAA. He lost his only career start against the Islanders in 2003.

New York (3-3-2) avoided its second three-game losing streak of the season Saturday with a 4-3 overtime victory against the Hurricanes. Defenseman Tom Poti, who had two assists in regulation, scored the game-winner 23 seconds into the extra session.

"Last year, you can count how many games we lost blowing a third-period lead," said goaltender Rick DiPietro, who finished with 37 saves. "It was somewhere between 12 and 15, and those lost points cost us a playoff spot."

It was DiPitero's first win of the season in his first game back after missing four with a groin injury. He had allowed 12 goals as the Islanders dropped their first three games from Oct. 5-10.

DiPietro - in the first year of a record 15-year deal with New York - was 0-1-1 with a 4.54 GAA last season against Buffalo. In a 6-4 home loss on Oct. 29, DiPietro started in net and stopped nine of 12 shots before being replaced by current general manager Garth Snow.

Jason Blake scored his team-leading fourth goal in the win over Carolina. All of his goals have come during New York's last four games, all at home.

Blake has a four-game points streak against the Sabres, recording three goals and an assist in that span.

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