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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 28th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (38-16-6) at Buffalo Sabres (17-34-8), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Miller is set to make what could be his final home start with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night in a matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
The Sabres are last in the NHL with 42 points and with Miller set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, there is a chance that Buffalo could move the netminder before Wednesday's trade deadline.
Buffalo is set to wrap a three-game homestand tonight before hitting the road for three in a row through next week and interim head coach Ted Nolan said Miller will probably start tonight.
"I'm trying not to be too sentimental," said Miller. "I think everyone in Buffalo knows how I feel about the city. I've always enjoyed the people ... there's deep love for the city in my heart. I don't think right now is the time to reflect. It's still time to focus and play hockey and give all I can give in net every night."
If an early meeting with the Sharks is any measuring point, then the 33-year- old Miller could give the fans plenty to cheer about tonight. Miller made 47 saves in a 5-4 shootout win over the hosting Sharks back on Nov. 5, while Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford both had a goal and an assist in regulation.
Miller is 7-1-1 with a 2.17 goals against average and two shutouts in nine career games versus the Sharks.
Cody Hodgson had the winner in the fourth round of the shootout, giving the Sabres their fifth straight victory and seventh in their past eight versus the Sharks.
Antti Niemi stopped 32 shots for San Jose, which has lost three straight and 14 of its last 15 in Buffalo.
The Sharks aim to beat the Sabres for the first time since Jan. 23, 2010 and have plenty of momentum following a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers last night.
Joe Pavelski netted his second career hat trick, while backup Alex Stalock made 27 saves in San Jose's third straight win.
The Sharks rallied from a 2-1 deficit following the first period by scoring five times in the second. Pavelski got all three of his goals in the frame, upping his season total to a career-high 32 goals.
"The break between periods I think did us well. We talked about a few things. We got to stop and think about what we were doing and not doing. We didn't have a lot of purpose in our game in the first period, especially in their zone," said Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
Raffi Torres and Logan Couture both scored twice in their return to the lineup. Couture had been out since Jan. 5 with a hand ailment, while Torres made his season debut after suffering a knee injury in the preseason.
The Sharks pulled within five points of the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division and are likely to start Finnish Olympian Niemi tonight in their second game back from the break.
Niemi is winless in three previous meetings with the Sabres, going 0-2-1 with a 3.28 GAA.
Buffalo went into the Olympic break with four straight losses, but have won two straight at home out of the hiatus. Both home come in thrilling fashion, with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff potting the game-winner with 54 seconds left in regulation to top Carolina on Tuesday before an overtime victory against the Boston Bruins the following night.
Matt Moulson scored a game-tying goal with 53 seconds left in the third period and Matt D'Agostini won it 22 ticks into the bonus frame, outracing Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara to a loose puck before converting on a backhander.
"It feels good to just contribute," D'Agostini said. "You get your chances and playing good is one thing, but to get a goal to help the team win feels pretty good."
Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Flynn each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, while backup netminder Jhonas Enroth stopped 29-of-33 shots for just his second victory of the season and first since Oct. 25.
Buffalo was without Ennis due to body soreness and he did not practice on Thursday, but has not been ruled out for this game.
"Still a little sore, but hopefully, knock on wood, he'll be ready to go tomorrow but it's still one of those day-to-day things," Nolan said of Ennis following practice on Thursday. "He was a lot better today."
Ennis is tied for first on the club with 14 goals and sits second with 30 points.
02/28 10:48:16 ET