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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, December 7th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (21-4-2) at Florida Panthers (9-15-5), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The mighty Buffalo Sabres will continue their five-game road trip tonight, as they visit the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.

The Sabres are 21-4-2 this season and are currently leading both the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference.

Buffalo played the third test of its swing Tuesday in Tampa and posted a 4-1 victory on a night when the Lightning honored their former captain Dave Andreychuk.

Daniel Briere stole the show for the Sabres, netting his first-career hat trick to lead his club at St. Pete Times Forum. Briere completed the feat by scoring twice in the first period and once in the final stanza. He now has 13 goals on the season and is tied for the team lead in points (33) with left winger Thomas Vanek.

Chris Drury had the other tally for the Sabres, who have won two of their last three games and five straight against the Lightning, outscoring the Bolts 30-13 during the streak. Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville each had two assists and Ryan Miller made 29 stops between the pipes.

The win improved Buffalo to an impressive 12-2-2 as the visiting team this season. The Sabres have games in Montreal and New Jersey remaining on the trek.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will try to win back-to-back games for just their second this season. Florida ended a six-game losing streak Tuesday night with a win in Pittsburgh. Olli Jokinen's power-play goal in the third period lifted the Panthers to the 3-2 victory at Mellon Arena.

Jozef Stumpel and Gary Roberts also scored for Florida, which had scored only one goal in its previous four games and improved to 1-5-1 in its last seven games. Ruslan Salei added two assists while Alexander Auld made 25 saves in the win.

The Panthers, who are in last place in the Southeast Division, last won consecutive games on October 11 and 13.

There was some off-ice news for Florida on Wednesday, as veteran centerman Joe Nieuwendyk decided to retire due to serious back problems. He made the decision after doctors told him that the injury could worsen if he resumed playing.

Buffalo edged Florida, 5-4, in overtime on November 10 and is 4-3-1 (1 tie) in the last eight meetings.

12/07 10:49:34 ET

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