NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 17th
(All times eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (13-14-4) at Florida Panthers (13-16-0), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After recording a home victory over a division rival the
last time out, the Buffalo Sabres will aim for consecutive wins tonight when
they visit the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.
The Sabres improved to 4-1-1 in December with a close regulation win over the
rival Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Drew Stafford notched his third career hat
trick to account for all of his team's offense in the 3-2 victory at HSBC
Stafford had missed four straight and 15 of the 16 games prior to his three-
goal outburst due to a shoulder injury and now has eight goals on the season.
It was his first hat trick since January 27, 2009 when Stafford scored three
times in a 10-2 win at Edmonton.
Derek Roy added three assists on Wednesday and Ryan Miller made 32 saves for
the Sabres. Miller improved to 11-8-3 on the season and is 9-5-0 with a 2.21
GAA in 14 career games against Florida.
Tonight's test is the first of two straight on the road for the Sabres, who
will complete their brief tour of the Sunshine State with tomorrow's game in
Tampa. Buffalo is 6-5-3 as the guest this year and has lost four of its last
five away from western New York.
The Panthers, meanwhile, have lost two in a row on the heels of a season-high
three-game winning streak. Both setbacks came in regulation and Florida was
dealt a rough loss its last time out when it blew a three-goal lead Wednesday
to visiting Carolina.
Tuomo Ruutu scored back-to-back goals in the third period as the Hurricanes
rallied for a stunning 4-3 win over Florida. The Panthers scored all three of
their goals in the opening 5:16 of the game and allowed Carolina to score once
in the second period and three times in the final stanza to record the
Evgeny Dadonov, Michael Frolik and Bryan McCabe scored the goals for Florida
in its seventh loss in 11 games.
Tomas Vokoun, after stopping 12 shots in a scoreless first period, gave up
four goals on 22 shots in the last 40 minutes to take the loss. Vokoun will
try to bounce back tonight in a game against a team he hasn't fared well
against during his career. The Czech backstop is 5-8-1 with a tie in 15 career
games against the Sabres.
The Panthers have lost four of their last five home games and are 6-6-0 as the
host this season. Next up for Florida is a three-game road trip, which is set
to begin Monday in Philadelphia.
The Sabres have dominated the recent series with Florida, winning two
straight, six of seven and eight of the last 10 meetings overall. Buffalo has
also claimed victory in its last three trips to south Florida and has won six
of its last seven at BankAtlantic Center.
12/17 10:53:52 ET