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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, November 24th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (9-9-2-1) at Florida Panthers (8-12-2-0), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Florida Panthers try for their first winning streak of the season tonight when they open a two-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres at the Office Depot Center.

Rookie Stephen Weiss' goal at 1:43 of overtime lifted the Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

The game-winner was already the fourth of the season for the 20-year-old Weiss, who has eight points in nine games since being recalled from San Antonio of the AHL.

Victor Kozlov had a goal and an assist, while Roberto Luongo made 38 saves for the Panthers, who snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-4 under new head coach Rick Dudley. A win tonight would give Florida its first back- to-back wins since the Panthers won three in a row from February 18-22 of last season.

All the news was not good though, on Saturday, as defenseman Branislav Mezei suffered a fractured orbital bone and had to be admitted to the Cleveland Clinic because of blood behind his left eye. He will remain hospitalized for the next three days and could be sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks.

Mezei missed 70 games last year after breaking his foot twice.

Florida, which will wrap up its brief homestand on Wednesday against the New York Rangers, is 3-6-1 on home ice this season.

Buffalo, meanwhile, enters tonight's contest on a sour note following its 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Maxim Afinogenov scored for the Sabres, who have lost two of their last three. Mika Noronen made 21 saves Buffalo.

Noronen, who has not allowed more than three goals in a game this season, has been sensational for the Sabres and his 1.75 goals- against average is the third best in the NHL behind John Grahame of the Lightning and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. Noronen's .931 save percentage ranks fifth in the league.

However, head coach Lindy Ruff might opt to start Martin Biron tonight. Biron, whose brother Mathieu plays for the Panthers, is 5-4-2 this season with a 2.78 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Buffalo failed to cash in on its two power-play chances on Saturday and is without a goal in its last 28 chances with the man advantage.

The Sabres are also 0-9 this season when they allow the first goal.

Buffalo is 5-6-1 away from home this season.

The Sabres were 2-1-1 against the Panthers last season and are 3-1-1 in the last five meetings. Buffalo has also had success in Sunrise, where it is 3-1-1 in its last five trips.

11/24 10:46:08 ET


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