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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, January 23rd (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (30-12-7) at San Jose Sharks (34-10-8), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Sharks will attempt to extend their winning streak to five games tonight when they host the Sabres at HP Pavilion in Buffalo's first trip to San Jose in over two years.

San Jose has won four straight and 15 of its last 18 to hold a two-point edge over Chicago for the most in the NHL with 76. That is also good for a 13-point lead over Phoenix for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Sharks extended their winning streak with Thursday's 3-1 win over the Ducks, San Jose's sixth regular-season victory in a row over Anaheim.

Though offensive blueliner Dan Boyle sat out the contest with an upper-body injury, fellow defenseman Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both scored rare second-period goals. Blake's goal was his 237th, tying him for 10th place with current Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on the NHL's all-time list for defenseman.

"We got a couple [goals] from defensemen, which I don't want to say is odd, but to have the only two that mattered from [defensemen] was important," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.

Patrick Marleau had two assists and scored an empty-net goal for his league- best 35th tally of the season. Joe Thornton had a pair of assists to run his NHL-leading total to 53.

Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves and has allowed just six goals over his last six games. However, he allowed five the last time he faced Buffalo, a 6-5 shootout win over the Sabres. Marleau scored twice in the loss, while Thornton had four assists.

Nabokov is 2-2-1 with a tie and 2.49 goals-against average versus the Sabres.

That win over the Sharks last year was the Sabres' second in a row, with Derek Roy getting the shootout winner. Buffalo also posted a 7-1 victory in its last trip to San Jose, a 7-1 rout that ended the Sabres' nine-game series road winless streak (five losses, four ties).

The Sabres will try to avoid another shootout tonight, as Thursday's 4-3 setback to the Kings was the club's fifth shootout defeat in a row.

In the final round, with the shootout tied 1-1, Los Angeles' Dustin Brown drew Ryan Miller out of position with a forehand move, then went to the backhand and found some daylight for the go-ahead goal. Tim Connolly nearly tied it for Buffalo, getting Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to turn the wrong way, but the netminder athletically stuck out his right pad just before the puck crossed the goal line to seal the win.

Connolly had two assists to extend his career-best point streak to 14 games, the longest active run in the NHL. He has six goals and 17 assists on the tear.

Craig Rivet scored for the first time in 56 games in the loss, while Thomas Vanek and Clarke MacArthur also tallied. Miller made 26 saves, as the Sabres fell to 2-1-2 on a seven-game road trip that ends Monday in Vancouver.

"I think both teams played hard and skated well and it was a good game," Vanek said. "In the end, I think we have to be better in the shootout."

Buffalo still leads the Northeast Division by nine points over Ottawa, and with 67 points on the season is three back of Washington for the most in the Eastern Conference.

Miller is 2-0-0 with a tie and 2.55 GAA in his career versus San Jose.

01/23 11:12:45 ET

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