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NOTEBOOK: SABRES LOOKING FOR BETTER START

Saturday, 01.22.2011 / 2:00 PM / News
By Rob Crean  - Public Relations Director
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NOTEBOOK: SABRES LOOKING FOR BETTER START
The Sabres practiced Saturday at the Northtown Center in Amherst between weekend meetings with the New York Islanders.  On Friday night, New York came away with its second win in the span of a week over Buffalo by a 5-2 score, but the Sabres have a chance to get in the win column against the Isles Sunday on Long Island.

We can say that we outplayed them in the second and third yesterday, but it’s a 60 minute game and those first 10 minutes for us were some of our worst. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go right from the opening draw and get our first win against these guys. - Sabres Defenseman Tyler Myers
The Sabres outshot the Islanders 39-28 in Friday’s game but were frustrated by a slow start and an inability to cash in on their opportunities.

“We didn’t start well last night, we ended up with the highest amount of scoring chances we’ve had in a game but didn’t convert,” said Head Coach Lindy Ruff.  “You can’t work that hard in the last 40 minutes and not convert on those opportunities.  If you don’t convert on the opportunities, you’re going to find yourself losing games again.  It looked a lot like it did earlier in the year.”

The slow start Ruff referred to included falling into an early 2-0 hole just over 10 minutes into the first period.  It was at that point that Ruff removed Ryan Miller from the game and replaced him with Patrick Lalime.  Miller was starting his 24th consecutive game, and it appears that streak will reach 25 games Sunday on Long Island.

“Ryan is starting tomorrow,” Ruff said Saturday.  “I’m taking the guesswork out of it.”

Tyler Myers reiterated the need to get off to a fast start against the Islanders in order to earn their first victory against them in three tries.

“They pretty much embarrassed us in the two games that we’ve played them,” said Myers.  “We can say that we outplayed them in the second and third yesterday, but it’s a 60 minute game and those first 10 minutes for us were some of our worst.  We need to come out tomorrow ready to go right from the opening draw and get our first win against these guys.”

Nathan Gerbe (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Video: Nathan Gerbe
GERBE SETS RECORD: With the clock ticking down on a second straight loss to the Islanders, Nathan Gerbe made it interesting when he scored two goals five seconds apart to set a Sabres franchise record for fastest two goals by one player. 

“(The record) is pretty cool, but I’d rather worry about winning,” Gerbe said.

Gerbe set career-highs in both ice time (20:22) and shots on goal (8) in Friday’s game, causing Ruff to call him Buffalo’s best player in the contest.  Gerbe now has three goals in the last two games.

INJURIES MOUNTING: Ruff updated the Sabres’ growing list of injuries following practice.  Tim Connolly was absent from practice and Ruff revealed that the center was suffering from a hip flexor injury that will keep him out of the lineup.

“Connolly’s going to be out,” said Ruff.  “He’s got a hip flexor that’s been bothering him now for a couple games.  It’s just affected the way he’s skating.”

Patrick Kaleta has left the last two games because he has re-aggravated a hand injury that originally sidelined him for seven games from Jan. 1-15.  With just two games over the next 12 days because of the All-Star break, Ruff said Kaleta will be shut down for the time being to heal from the injury.

Drew Stafford, who has missed the last two games with a groin injury, participated in Saturday’s practice in a limited role. 

“Stafford is better.  I’m hopeful for him on Tuesday (at Ottawa),” Ruff said.

The final player on Saturday’s injury update was Cody McCormick.  Ruff said McCormick had come down with the flu but was feeling better.  His status for Sunday’s game is uncertain.

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