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Sabres seek to avenge loss to Islanders

by Brian Compton /

ISLANDERS (5-4-5) at SABRES (8-2-1)

Last 10 -- Islanders 5-3-2; Sabres 8-2-0.

Season series -- This is already the third of four meetings between the teams. The Isles avenged a 6-3 loss at Buffalo on Oct. 16 with a 5-0 victory last Saturday on Long Island. In that game, Jeff Tambellini notched his first NHL hat trick and Martin Biron stopped all 38 shots he faced for his 200th career win.

Big story -- Both teams have been battling the flu bug as of late, especially the Sabres. They received some good news on Tuesday, however, as Patrick Kaleta practiced with the team for the first time since late last week. Kaleta missed Saturday's loss to the Islanders.

"It's something that you just have to battle through," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "A couple guys were getting sick here and there. We just have to come together as a team and play as a team in the roles that are needed."

Team Scope :

Islanders -- After going 0-3-3 in their first six games of the season, fewer teams are playing better hockey at the present time than the Islanders. Scott Gordon's club has won four in a row and has points in six consecutive games (4-0-2). New York extended its win streak on Monday in a 3-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"You can obviously see they're feeding off of it," Gordon said of the winning streak. "But I think even in all those shootout losses and overtime losses, we were taking the positives from it, and there were a lot of positives. I think there's been more positives throughout the whole season."

Sabres -- With no action in between games against the Islanders, the Sabres are probably still steaming from Saturday's poor performance on Long Island. They used the last two days of practice to correct issues that were visible against the Isles.

"We're always going to be addressing something," Ruff said. "There's areas of the game where we've got to be better. We had some great opportunities to finish, and we didn't. We gave them some opportunities, and they did. From our standpoint, we want to limit a few of their opportunities. I think we gave up a couple that we didn't need to give up."

Who's hot -- Brendan Witt had the first two-goal game of his 14-year NHL career on Monday night against the Oilers. … John Tavares scored his fifth goal of the season in the victory and is now tied with Matt Moulson for the team lead with 11 points.

For the Sabres, Tim Connolly -- who has dealt with concussion problems throughout his career -- has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games this season. … Saturday's loss was Ryan Miller's first in regulation. He is 8-1-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.

Injury report -- Isles right wing Trent Hunter (torn pectoral) is progressing and could return within a week. Rick DiPietro (knee, hip) is still rehabbing and there have been reports that he is aiming to return by the end of the month. Buffalo defenseman Toni Lydman is day-to-day with a groin strain. He has missed the past four games.

Stat pack -- Isles captain Doug Weight had two assists on Monday. Weight was battling the swine flu the previous week … Sabres forward Jason Pominville fired eight shots on goal against the Isles on Saturday but saw his two-game point streak snapped. His team is just 9-for-54 on the power play this season.

Puck drop -- The attitude has clearly changed on Long Island in the past 7-10 days. These Islanders have a swagger to them that has been created due to this four-game winning streak. If the Isles are going to continue to win, though, they'll need to do it on the road. Nine of their next 10 games and 14 of the next 17 will be played away from home.

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