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Struggling Sabres seek victory against Thrashers

by Brian Hunter
SABRES (1-4-1) at THRASHERS (3-2-0)


Season Series:
First of four meetings this season -- Buffalo makes both of its trips to Atlanta this month in a 10-day span. The Thrashers went 2-0-2 against the Sabres during the 2009-10 season. Derek Roy scored a pair of overtime goals inside of two weeks in January for Buffalo's two wins.

Big Story:
The Sabres begin a stretch of three games in four nights badly in need of points. They have gone 0-4-1 since opening the season with a one-goal victory over the rival Senators. Ryan Miller, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, has been spectacular at times, ordinary at others -- he carries a 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage into Wednesday's action.

Team Scope:

Sabres: At the very least, you can say Buffalo has been playing competitive hockey -- each of the Sabres' last four defeats have come by one goal. That includes a pair of losses to the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks by 4-3 scores. In their most recent game, at the United Center on Saturday, the Sabres took 2-1 and 3-2 leads they couldn't hold. Patrick Lalime spelled Miller in goal and stopped 17 shots.

"We deserved better," Lalime said. "We put a great effort tonight. We had a lot of chances, and they basically scored on the chances they had. That was the difference."
The sudden emergence of Anthony Stewart helped Atlanta salvage a split of its four-game road trip after dropping the first two in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. Stewart, a former first-round pick of the Panthers and the older brother of Avalanche forward Chris Stewart, had 4 goals in 108 NHL games before recording a hat trick in the Thrashers' 5-4 shootout win over the Ducks and the tying goal in what became a 4-2 victory against the Sharks. The Thrashers rallied from two-goal deficits in both games.

"It feels great," Stewart said following the win in Anaheim. "I can't shut it down right now. I'm happy to contribute any way I can and I am still trying to prove myself in this League. So any way I can contribute is great."

Who's Hot:
Drew Stafford has 2 goals and 5 points in the last five games for the Sabres. … Stewart is red hot for the Thrashers, while Chris Thorburn has 3 goals and an assist during a career-high four-game points streak.

Injury Report: Buffalo forward Jason Pominville has missed the last three games with a concussion and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn has missed the last two with a groin injury. … Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec has been cleared to practice as he recovers from a concussion while defenseman Zach Bogosian is day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Stat Pack: The Sabres' 19 shots in the first period Saturday were five more than the Blackhawks allowed in any period at the United Center last season. … Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom tied a franchise record by playing in his 251st consecutive game on Saturday. Enstrom has never missed a game in his four-year career.

Puck Drop: Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers, who seemingly did everything right in his rookie season en route to winning the Calder Trophy, has just a solitary assist through six games and a minus-7 rating -- tied for worst in the League with Jason Arnott of New Jersey, another team off to a 1-4-1 start.

"It's frustrating for sure but you just keep at it," Myers told the Buffalo News. "These six games have been tough for me, no doubt. But it's an 82-game season and I'm working to turn it around."

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