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Sharks aim for third straight win at Buffalo

by Brian Compton /
SHARKS (14-9-4) at SABRES (11-13-4)

TV: CSN-CA, MSG-Buffalo.

Last 10: San Jose 5-4-1; Buffalo 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings between the teams. They will meet again in San Jose on Jan. 6, 2011.

Big Story: San Jose will be gunning for its third straight victory following Wednesday night's improbable 5-4 shootout win at Philadelphia. The Sharks rallied from a 4-1 deficit, then came within less than a half-second of losing at the conclusion of overtime when Mike Richards' shot was just late of crossing the goal line. Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe scored in the shootout to give San Jose back-to-back wins.

"I thought it would count, but the coach ran in here and said it wouldn't and I knew we would win in the shootout," said Couture, who is 2-for-2 in shootout attempts this season.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose has been fortunate for Couture's output, as the 21-year-old is emerging as a Calder Trophy candidate. Couture, who had 9 points in 25 games with the Sharks last season, scored his 13th goal of the season on Wednesday night before adding another tally in the shootout.

"He's been arguably our best player," San Jose coach Todd McLellan praised. "He might be surprising a lot of people, but he's not surprising anybody on our club. Guys pull for him, guys root for him, guys know he's the go-to player right now. I know it's a long year and there will probably be some moments when things aren't going to go his way, but we'll be there to support him and his teammates will be there for him.
"Right now, he's got it going and if we have one individual as a catalyst, it would be him."

Sabres: Buffalo has earned points in three straight games (2-0-1) following Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss at Boston that ended in dramatic fashion. Referees had to get a ruling from the video judge to see that Mark Recchi had indeed tipped Dennis Seidenberg's slap shot past Ryan Miller, who was obviously frustrated by the decision.

"It's a tough way to lose," Miller said.

Who's Hot: Dany Heatley leads the Sharks with 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists), while captain Joe Thornton has 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 25 contests. … Sabres center Derek Roy has 26 points (9 goals, 17 assists) in 28 games, while Miller has a 2.29 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 19 appearances.

Injury Report: Sharks defenseman Kent Huskins (upper body) is day-to-day, while forward Devin Setoguchi (upper body) is out. … For the Sabres, forward Rob Niedermayer (knee) is out, while Tim Connolly (groin), Drew Stafford (upper body) and Shaone Morrisonn (neck) are day-to-day.

Stat Pack: Sharks forward Jason Demers ended a 31-game scoring drought on Wednesday. … Miller allowed goals for the first time in three games Tuesday night, ending his shutout streak at a career-best 161 minutes, 35 seconds. Miller stopped 33 of 36 shots against the Bruins. He has turned aside 149 of the last 156 shots he's faced.

Puck Drop:  "I heard the horn, but it's always a little late. I broke my stick. I thought it was a goal. It was once of those nights where the puck bounces everywhere. I'm happy we won, but the puck really wasn't bouncing our way." -- Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki after Wednesday's shootout win in Philadelphia
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