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Sabres Close Preseason with Win

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres offense was impressive in the team's final game of the preseason as four different Sabres scored to avenge the team's earlier preseason loss to Minnesota with the 5-3 victory over the Wild at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. on Friday night.

"I do put some stock into this game because Minnesota has a very hard working club, a very good skating club and they're a disciplined, defensive club," stated head coach Lindy Ruff following the game. "It was a really good test for us and I thought we responded to it and played our best game of the preseason."

The line of Chris Drury, Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier really clicked during the contest, recording seven points. Drury finished the game with two goals and an assist, Hecht scored a goal and two assists and Grier was credited with an assist.

"That line played as it did two years ago (during 2003-04)," said Ruff. "They created a lot of opportunities and I thought (Mike) Grier played his best game during the preseason (against Minnesota)."

Maxim Afinogenov register a goal and two assists, Ales Kotalik notched his second goal of the preseason, and Brian Campbell recorded his first points during exhibition play with two assists.

"(My game) has been coming around this preseason," stated Campbell. "The last couple of games, I have picked it up a bit and felt a little more comfortable, but it's nice to get rewarded with a couple of points tonight."

"I know I can play in this league and help this hockey club win," continued Campbell. "So far, I think that I've proved that I can play and Lindy (Ruff) knows I can play, they just have to give me the opportunity and hopefully that comes Wednesday night (in the season opener), and game-in and game-out after that. (Playing in Europe during the lockout) was fun and everything, but it's great to be back in North America and playing in Buffalo."

Making his fourth start of exhibition play, Ryan Miller remained undefeated in preseason play for Buffalo, allowing three goals off 24 shots en route to the victory.

"I'm happy with the way the preseason went," stated Miller, who is battling Martin Biron and Mika Noronen for the starting goaltender spot. "I've had to go through the whole process but I just wanted to prove that I was one of those guys that put everything they had into the preseason. I can only play my best hockey and I think I have shown some good games so far, but it's the nature of professional sports that you always have to continue to produce."

The game against Minnesota was played in a familiar territory for Miller, who appeared in 63 games for the Rochester Americans during the 2004-05 regular season. So much so the East Lansing, MI native even sat in the same locker he used the last two seasons while playing for the Amerks.

Miller expressed appreciation for his time in the Flower City but stated that he wants to focus on his future with the Sabres while fondly remembering the past.

"I'd like to move forward but I don't just want to say 'see you later, Rochester' because it's a great town and people have been great to me here," said Miller.

The Sabres finish the preseason with a record of 6-2-0-0 and will open the 2005-06 regular season on Wednesday, October 5 against Miroslav Satan and the New York Islanders in HSBC Arena at 7:00 PM.

0-1 (18:37): Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets behind the Sabres defence and scores on a breakaway against Ryan Miller. Henrik Tallinder was called for hooking just 18 seconds into the game leading to the Minnesota power play. Mikko Koivu records the assist.

1-1 (13:24): Power play goal for Chris Drury tying the game at one apiece. Drury collects his own rebound in front of the net and flips the puck over a diving Dwayne Roloson.

1-1 (): Sean McMorrow and Andrei Nazarov get a little rowdy. Similar to McMorrow's fight with Neal against Ottawa two nights ago, the Sabres enforcer pulls his opponent's jersey over his head and begins teeing off. Both men fall to the ice. Advantage, McMorrow.

2-1 (18:32): Maxim Afinogenov scores with just 21 seconds remaining in the Minnesota penalty. Afinogenov came out from the corner, shot and continued poking at Roloson before the puck slides over the goal line for the power play goal.

3-1 (19:44): Jochen Hecht takes a great pass from Chris Drury and one-times the shot by Roloson. Hecht skated untouched into the Wild's zone before blasting the shot for his second goal of the preseason.

3-2 (10:39): Wes Walz beats Ryan Miller on the penalty shot. Walz was pulled down on a breakaway by Henrik Tallinder. Walz's shot went just under the glove of Miller.

4-2 (11:50): Chris Drury picks up a loose puck and slaps home his second goal of the game and third of the preseason. Roloson could not control a shot by Hecht and gives up the rebound directly to Drury. It's the third power play goal of the night for Buffalo.

4-2 (): Thomas Vanek goes after Willie Mitchell after Mitchell slugs Daniel Briere directly in the mug. A great show of team attitude by protecting his captain and line mate by the young Austrian. Mitchell heads to the box.

4-3 (1:18): On a broken play, Brent Burns moves into the offensive zone, collects a loose puck and snaps a wrist shot past Miller. Buffalo's lead is decreased to one.

5-3 (2:03): Ales Kotalik knocks in an Afinogenov shot to extend Buffalo's lead to two. Afinogenov fought through a defenseman and shot the puck low on Roloson. Kotalik slapped in the rebound after charging the net.
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