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Sabres still seek first win against Isles

by Brian Compton /
SABRES (21-21-5) at ISLANDERS (15-24-7)

TV-- MSG Plus

Last 10 -- Buffalo 6-3-1; New York 4-5-1.

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams and the third in eight days. The Islanders have handed the Sabres 5-3 (Jan. 15 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) and 5-2 (Friday night at HSBC Arena) losses.

Big story -- Evgeni Nabokov is a member of the New York Islanders. Or is he?

The former San Jose Sharks goaltender, who signed with the Detroit Red Wings late Thursday night, was claimed off waivers by the Islanders on Saturday. Soon after the claim, however, Nabokov's agent announced that Nabokov would not report to New York. Isles GM Garth Snow, however, remains optimistic.

"They are making his jersey as we speak," Snow said on the Isles' web site. "We have reserved a flight tomorrow for him to get to Long Island as soon as possible.

"Every thing is on the up-and-up," Snow said. "I am waiting to speak to the player, but we have spoken to his agent Don Meehan and, as a veteran in this business he knows what is to come next."

As per the League's collective bargaining agreement, if a player claimed off waivers in this situation does not report to the team he was claimed by, he will not be permitted to play for another team in the NHL that season.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- Buffalo is doing everything it can to remain in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, but the Isles haven't exactly been gracious in the first two meetings. Playing on home ice Friday night, the Sabres fell in a 4-0 hole against the Isles and was unable to complete a third-period rally.

The loss kept them with 47 points, seven behind eighth-place Atlanta.

"I didn't like the start of the game, not at all," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said, as the Sabres trailed 2-0 and were outshot 10-3 before the game was 11 minutes old. "I didn't like our first shift. It wasn't good enough."

Islanders -- New York has been decimated by injuries this season, but it received some welcomed news on Thursday when alternate captain Kyle Okposo returned to the lineup. Along with defenseman Mark Streit, Okposo suffered a major shoulder injury before the Islanders played their first preseason game. Okposo picked up his first point of the season on Friday night.

"He's a big part of our team," teammate Zenon Konopka told Newsday. "To get a player like that back in the middle of the season is unbelievable."

Who's hot -- Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe set a franchise record with two goals in five seconds on Friday night. Derek Roy held the previous standard with two goals in a 10-second span. Gerbe has goals in two straight games. … Isles winger Michael Grabner has five goals in his last four games.

Injury report -- Sabres wingers Patrick Kaleta (hand) is out, while Drew Stafford (groin) are day-to-day. Tim Connolly (hip) also will not play. … New York is missing Mark Streit (shoulder), Doug Weight (back), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Milan Jurcina (upper body), Trent Hunter (knee) and Nathan Lawson (knee).

Stat pack -- Ryan Miller made his 24th straight start for the Sabres on Friday night, but the U.S. Olympian lasted just 10:30. He stopped eight of 10 shots. … New York is 10-6-2 in 18 games since a 1-17-3 stretch that was highlighted by the firing of coach Scott Gordon.

Puck drop -- "They pretty much embarrassed us in the two games that we've played them. We can say that we outplayed them in the second and third (Friday), but it's a 60 minute game and those first 10 minutes for us were some of our worst.  We need to come out ready to go right from the opening draw and get our first win against these guys." -- Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers
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