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Sabres welcome Panthers after weather-aided break

by John Kreiser

PANTHERS (16-21-6) at SABRES (12-26-4)


Last 10: Florida 5-4-1; Buffalo 5-3-2

Season series: The Florida Panthers are making their first of two visits to First Niagara Center in a 12-day span. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Panthers 3-1 at BB&T Center on Oct. 25.

Big story: The Sabres are back on the ice after an unexpectedly long break; their scheduled home game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday was postponed due to the weather. The Panthers play the second of a three-game trip and had a two-day break after a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

Team Scope:

Panthers: The good news for coach Peter Horachek has been the production from the "Killer B" line of rookie Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes. They produced the goal in Montreal, generated most of the scoring chances, and have been carrying the attack. The bad news is the lack of scoring from other lines. Horachek said after practice Wednesday the other three lines have to produce for the Panthers to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

"In the past and earlier we were getting contributions from all lines and different lines each night," Horachek told the media. "We're hopefully going to get a little more consistency out of the other lines."

Sabres: Thanks to the snow, Buffalo had two extra days to enjoy a 2-1 home victory against the New Jersey Devils played Saturday. But the enjoyment was tempered when defenseman Tyler Myers was handed a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of New Jersey forward Dainius Zubrus.

The Sabres are also without Henrik Tallinder (upper body), meaning the rest of the defense will have to find a way to cover nearly 40 minutes of ice time.

"Those are two guys that play a lot of minutes, so guys are going to have to step up and play those minutes," defenseman Mike Weber told the media Wednesday. "I think with that, stepping up in the right situation, you're not going to replace a [Myers] with the offensive abilities that he has. Someone's got to step up and just play solid minutes."

Who's hot: Barkov has a goal and six assists during a six-game point streak. Boyes has two goals and six points in his past four games, and Bergenheim has six goals in Florida's past six games. … Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is 3-1-1 in his past five decisions and has allowed nine goals in that stretch.

Injury report: Florida defensemen Alex Petrovic (upper body) and Dylan Olsen (lower body), and forward Jesse Winchester (hand) are out. … Buffalo center Cody Hodgson (wrist) and forward Ville Leino (lower body) are skating at practice with a non-contact jersey. Forwards Drew Stafford (upper body) and Cody McCormick (upper body) are out.

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