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Sabres sign G Lalime to 2-year, $2 million deal

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Free-agent goalie Patrick Lalime signed a two-year, $2 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday to become Ryan Miller's backup.

The deal was reached on the first day of the NHL's free agency period. Lalime fills a notable need for the Sabres, who were looking for an experienced backup after deciding not to re-sign Jocelyn Thibault.

Lalime, a nine-year NHL veteran, spent the past two seasons with Chicago playing behind Nikolai Khabibulin. Lalime went 16-12-2 with a 2.82 goals-against average and one shutout in 32 appearances last season.

Lalime had a strong second-half run last season when Khabibulin struggled. Lalime went 12-7-1 over the final three months to keep the Blackhawks in playoff contention. Chicago finished in a tie for ninth with Edmonton, three points out of playoff contention.

Pittsburgh's sixth-round pick in the 1993 draft, Lalime is best noted for being a four-year starter with Ottawa earlier this decade. He enjoyed his best season in 2002-03 when he went 39-20-7 in 67 regular season games, and posted an 11-7 record in the playoffs in helping the Senators reach the Eastern Conference finals.

Lalime's agent, Ian Pulver, said his client was eager to return to play in the East. He added Lalime was impressed by the Sabres' approach after having discussions with general manager Darcy Regier, coach Lindy Ruff and goalie coach Jim Corsi.

"That was a first-class move by the organization and sent a real strong message," Pulver said.

Pulver added Lalime is aware he'll be playing a backup role behind Miller, the Sabres starter for the past three seasons.

"Patrick had an excellent relationship with Nikolai last year," Pulver said. "He's a team guy first, who wants the best for Ryan and the best for himself."

Lalime broke into the NHL with Pittsburgh in 1996-97, when he played in 39 games. He then spent four seasons in Ottawa before being traded to St. Louis in 2005. He played one season with the Blues, going 4-18-8 in 2005-06.

Overall, he has a 191-148-32-11 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and 35 shutouts.

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