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Sabres look for four in a row as they host Panthers

by Mike G. Morreale /

PANTHERS (7-9-2) at SABRES (12-4-1)

Last 10 -- Panthers 5-4-1; Sabres 7-3-0

Season series -- The Panthers will meet the Sabres for the second time this season. Buffalo won 5-2 back on Oct. 21 when goalie Ryan Miller made 29 saves and defenseman Henrik Tallinder chipped in with 2 assists and a plus-2 rating. The Sabres are 9-2 in their last 11 meetings with the Panthers and are 7-2-1 on home ice this season.

Big story -- The Panthers, despite a 4-3 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, are tied with Pittsburgh for most shootout wins with four. Florida is currently 4-2 after regulation, with all six of those games decided via shootout. The Panthers were 3-8 in shootouts last season.

Team Scope

Panthers -- The Panthers have won five of their last eight. The last three games (2-0-1) have all gone to shootouts, including back-to-back victories over the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders before a 4-3 loss to the Kings on Monday. Panthers left wing David Booth, who has been out with a since Oct. 24, has been doing light exercising and, according to coach Peter DeBoer, is "making progress" but isn't ready to return.

Sabres -- Wing Tyler Ennis made his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and scored his first NHL goal in the second period of a 3-2 victory. Ennis replaced Drew Stafford (hip) in the lineup. The triumph was the third straight for the Sabres, who had lost three of four prior to the winning streak.

Who's hot -- Sophomore right wing Michael Frolik has scored two goals in the last four games. Frolik, who has hit a bit of a sophomore slump, has 4 goals for the season -- he didn't register his fourth goal of 2008-09 until Nov. 20. … The Sabres defense, led by goalie Ryan Miller, has allowed the fewest goals in the League (37) through 17 games.

Injury report -- Buffalo's Mike Grier strained his groin on Nov. 11 and is day-to-day. Florida's Booth (concussion) will remain sidelined for at least another week.

Stat pack -- Following their 3-2 victory over the Flyers on Saturday, the Sabres had allowed just 37 goals this season. Goalie Ryan Miller has been solid this season. The seventh-year goalie is 12-2-1 with a League-low 1.77 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. … The Sabres have at least one power-play goal in 12 of their 17 games.

"With the talent we have, the power play can always be better," forward Thomas Vanek said. "It's certainly not any kind of panic time, not even close. But we know we can be better if we execute."

Puck drop -- While much attention has been given Miller this season, Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun has been impressive. Despite his 5-8-2 record -- a product of seeing nearly 35 shots a game -- Vokoun has a 2.81 GAA and .921 save percentage.


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