Sabres-Stars Preview

Division champions last season, the Buffalo Sabres are

approaching the end of October mired in the Northeast cellar.

Playing a slumping opponent that hasn’t defeated them in more

than seven years may help them get back on track.

Buffalo seeks to salvage a split of a four-game road trip

Saturday night when it faces off against a Dallas Stars team trying

to avoid a fourth consecutive loss.

Seeking an encore for a 100-point season in 2009-10, the Sabres

(3-6-2) have dropped eight of 10 since winning their opener. They

rallied to salvage a point in Atlanta on Friday when Derek Roy

scored a game-tying goal with eight seconds left in regulation, but

lost 4-3 after Dustin Byfuglien split two defenders and beat Ryan

Miller with a wrist shot at 4:31 of overtime.

With seven points – two fewer than Ottawa – the Sabres are last

in the Northeast.

Buffalo has given up five power-play goals in 12 opportunities

while losing its last two games. The Thrashers went 2 for 7 on

Friday, including a goal by Niclas Bergfors with a two-man

advantage.

“When you have a 5-on-3, you can expect that,” said Miller, who

didn’t give up four or more goals in consecutive games all of last

season but has done so twice already in 2010-11.

Buffalo has defeated the Stars (5-4-0) five straight times, two

of those wins coming in Dallas, since a 3-0 loss March 31, 2003.

The last meeting was a 5-3 home win for the Sabres on March 10,

when defenseman Tyler Myers had a career-high four points (one

goal, three assists).

After averaging four goals during their 5-1-0 start, Dallas has

totaled four while dropping the first three contests of its

season-high six-game homestand. Brad Richards scored on the power

play and Brandon Segal added a goal Thursday night, but that wasn’t

nearly enough offense as the Stars fell 5-2 to Los Angeles.

Coach Marc Crawford was frustrated enough that he lifted Kari

Lehtonen – who allowed four goals on 15 shots – for backup Andrew

Raycroft early in the third period.

“What I don’t like is we beat ourselves,” Crawford said. “You

can’t take a shift off in this league. If we think we can outskill

teams, we’re sadly mistaken.”

Lehtonen had played every minute in net this season until

Raycroft replaced him for the final 15 on Thursday. Neither goalie

has had great success against Buffalo. Raycroft is 7-9-2 with a

3.04 goals-against average, while Lehtonen is 6-4-1 but with a 3.22

GAA – all while with Atlanta.

Miller is 3-0-0 with a 2.60 GAA versus Dallas.

The Stars are trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first

time since a seven-game skid March 17-30, 2009.