Little has gone wrong for the Buffalo Sabres through the first week of the season.
The Sabres look to open with five straight victories for the second time in three seasons as they visit the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.
Determined to rebound after missing the playoffs last season, Buffalo (4-0-0) continued its strong start with a 5-2 home win over Vancouver on Friday. The Sabres are off to their best start since winning 10 in a row to open 2006-07, when they won the Presidents' Trophy with a league-best 113 points and reached the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season.
"We got an early jump on them, and from there on out we played pretty well," said left wing Thomas Vanek of the Sabres, who scored three goals in the first period Friday.
Ales Kotalik had two goals and Vanek added his team-leading sixth along with two assists. Vanek, who has at least one goal in each contest, didn't get his sixth goal last season until the 21st game.
"I'm showing up on the scoresheet now and I think people are making a big deal out of it," said Vanek, who has nine goals and five assists in 12 games against Atlanta. "I've been on hot streaks before and then got pretty cold, so now I'm just trying to be consistent."
Kotalik, who has scored in three straight games with four goals during that span, has seven goals and six assists in 18 games versus the Thrashers.
Ryan Miller made 23 saves to improve to 3-0 as the Sabres killed off all three Vancouver power-plays to improve to 18-for-18 on the penalty kill this season. Buffalo has allowed five goals overall in its four wins.
While Miller is 6-2-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average versus Atlanta, he could get the night off in this back-to-back situation. Backup Patrick Lalime stopped 23 shots in a 7-1 win over the New York Islanders on Monday and is 7-3-0 with a tie and a 2.32 GAA against the Thrashers.
Atlanta (1-2-1) tries to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat after falling 1-0 to New Jersey on Thursday. The Thrashers managed 25 shots and have scored four goals in their last three contests since a 7-4 season-opening victory over Washington.
"I thought collectively it was our best game to date," first-year coach John Anderson said. "We had chances. If we don't have chances, then I'm concerned."
One possible area of concern for the Thrashers could be on the power play, where they are 0-for-14 in their last three games after going 3-for-9 in the opener.
"We need to be more consistent and try not to have 10, 15 minute lapses and just keep pressing for as much of the game as we can," defenseman Ron Hainsey told the Thrashers' official Web site.
Atlanta hopes Ilya Kovalchuk can heat up. Kovalchuk was second in the NHL with 52 goals in 2007-08, but has one through four games. He has five goals in his last eight games versus Buffalo.
Kari Lehtonen made 34 saves and has a 3.04 GAA in four games. He is 4-4-1 with a 3.42 GAA against the Sabres.
Buffalo went 2-1-1 versus the Thrashers last season, but the Sabres have lost three in a row at Atlanta.