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Sabres return home for meeting with Devils

by Brian Compton

DEVILS (34-16-1) at SABRES (30-14-7)

Last 10 -- New Jersey 4-6-0; Buffalo 4-3-3.

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams. The road team won the first two, with the Devils winning the most recent battle, a 3-0 victory on Dec. 7 at HSBC Arena. Martin Brodeur made 22 saves and tied Terry Sawchuk with his 103rd career shutout.

Big story -- Wednesday provides an opportunity for both teams to get back on track, as neither squad has played inspiring hockey as of late. Nonetheless, it's a showdown featuring two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope :

Devils -- New Jersey ran into a buzzsaw on Tuesday night, as Ottawa Senators beat them 3-0 at
Scotiabank Place for their seventh straight win. It marked the first time the Devils lost to the Sens since Oct. 27, 2007 -- a span of nine games. Brodeur, who made his 30th consecutive start, was pulled after the second period in a move that was more about rest than anything else. He will certainly start again on Wednesday.

"In our plays tonight, we were very predictable," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "I felt that offensively we were very easy to play against. All of our plays, there was hesitation on the pass: look at the guy, wait a second and then you make the pass. Well, everyone knows the puck's going there. Against a team that can create a lot and is good with the puck, you can't play that way."

Sabres -- Buffalo finally returns home after playing its last seven games on the road. The Sabres finished the trip with a record of 2-3-2 and went 0-3-1 in the last four, including Monday's 3-2 loss at Vancouver. Brad Lukowich broke a 2-2 tie at 5:21 of the third period and Ryan Miller made 22 saves in defeat.

"When you give the Sedins a breakaway from your own blue line when your focus was not to give them anything, I don't think you deserve to win a game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Some of it may be fatigue."

Who's hot -- Devils forward Zach Parise has four points in his last four games and leads the club with 23 goals. … The Sabres' penalty killing unit has allowed only three goals in the last 57 opportunities.

Injury report -- New Jersey got center Dainius Zubrus (broken kneecap) back on Tuesday but is still without Patrik Elias (concussion), Rod Pelley (lower body), Paul Martin (arm) and David Clarkson (leg). … Sabres forward Drew Stafford missed Monday's game with an illness, but could play against the Devils.

Stat pack -- Buffalo played its seven-game road trip in 14 days and traveled roughly 7,200 miles.

Puck drop -- "We're playing teams with full lineups. Everybody's starting to get healthy again and we're still hurting. Some of our top players are not playing. We've survived a long time, but now it seems to show, especially offensively; not having Paul running our power play and Patrik not being around and Clarkie, especially on the power play, being somewhat of a factor.

"Slowly we'll get guys back and everything's going to kick in. Right now, this is what we have to deal with, and we'll deal as well as we can. There's no panic. Today was not a good game, and we'll move on." -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur

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