NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, March 25th
(All times eastern)
Florida Panthers (29-35-10) at Buffalo Sabres (36-28-9), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will attempt to aid their playoff hopes
with a second straight win when they host the sliding Florida Panthers in
tonight's clash at HSBC Arena.
With 81 points, the Sabres are holding onto the eighth and final postseason
berth in the Eastern Conference. However, Buffalo is just three points
ahead of Carolina and Toronto, which are tied for the ninth seed.
Buffalo has recorded a point in three straight games (2-0-1) and Lindy Ruff's
club has compiled a 9-3-3 mark over its last 15 outings.
Ryan Miller was spectacular in net in Buffalo's most recent game, leading his
club to a 2-0 victory Tuesday in Montreal. Last year's Vezina Trophy winner
stopped 31 shots to record his fourth shutout of the season and 21st of his
"We battled for it," said Miller. "We were blocking them in lanes and forcing
them outside a lot. It was a defensive effort -- one of our strongest I can
Nathan Gerbe scored both Buffalo goals, including an empty-netter in the final
minute after hustling for two poke checks near the blue line.
The Sabres have played the last four games without Jochen Hecht (upper body)
but the German forward is questionable for tonight. Buffalo defenseman Steve
Montador has sat out the last two games with a lower-body injury, but he is
expected to play this evening.
Buffalo is 16-16-4 as the host this year and is playing the first of two
straight in western New York. The Sabres are also hosting New Jersey on
The Sabres have lost two of three against Florida this year, but Buffalo
recorded an overtime win when the clubs last met on Feb. 10 in Sunrise.
Buffalo has claimed three of five and seven out of 10 overall in this series.
Florida has won two of its last three in Buffalo, but has also dropped four
out of six at HSBC Arena.
Meanwhile, with just 68 points, the 14th-seeded Panthers have been reduced to
a spoiler role.
Florida has lost three in a row (0-2-1) and was shut out Wednesday in Chicago.
Corey Crawford posted his fourth shutout of the season, stopping 23 shots in
the Blackhawks' 4-0 victory at the United Center.
Tomas Vokoun surrendered all four goals on 31 shots for the Panthers, who have
also lost four of their last five games.
Florida trailed by a 1-0 score heading into the third period on Wednesday
before the Blackhawks exploded for three goals in the final 20 minutes.
"You can tell we kind of ran out of gas in the third period," Panthers forward
Jack Skille said. "The 'Hawks took over. That's why they're a good team."
Florida leading scorer Stephen Weiss missed Wednesday's game with a leg injury
and is questionable for tonight's test. Weiss is tied with David Booth for the
team lead with 21 goals and is tops on the club with 49 points.
The Panthers have lost four straight on the road and are off to an 0-2-0 start
on a five-game trek. Florida has a dismal 14-20-2 record as the visiting club
03/25 10:47:05 ET