NHL Preview: Buffalo Sabres vs. Atlanta Thrashers Print
Thursday, 11 October 2007 02:37
NHL Headline News

Rough Starts

The Buffalo Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers both won their respective divisions in 2006-07, but are still seeking their first win this season.

The Sabres look to avoid opening with three straight losses for the first time in franchise history when they host the Thrashers Thursday.

Buffalo (0-2-0) scored an NHL-best 282 goals and set franchise records with 53 wins 113 points en route to capturing the Presidents' Trophy last season. The defending Northeast Division champions opened last season with a franchise record 10 straight wins, but have started off this season by getting swept by the New York Islanders in a home-and-home series.

Buffalo, which played its inaugural season in 1970-71, has never opened with three straight losses.

The Thrashers (0-3-0), meanwhile, also set franchise records with 43 wins and 97 points last season en route to winning their first Southeast Division title in the franchise's eight-year history. They also scored 239 goals last season, but have just four so far.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Buffalo -200 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 total goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo -200 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

"We're not getting the breaks, and the only way we're going to get those breaks is to keep working hard and make sure we do the right things," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said after Wednesday's 3-1 loss to unbeaten Ottawa. "Right now we have two choices.

"We can put our head down and feel sorry for ourselves, or we're NHL guys and we have to find a way to get us out of this hole."

This is the Thrashers' worst start since losing a franchise record nine straight to open the 2002-03 season.

Atlanta was 0-for-3 on the power play on Wednesday, and is just 1-for-11 with the man advantage on the season. The Sabres, meanwhile, were 1-for-7 on the power play in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Islanders, and are also 1-for-11 overall with the man advantage.

On Saturday, Jaroslav Spacek gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead for the second consecutive game, but the Sabres once against couldn't hold the advantage.

"We played better ... but it's still not good enough,'' said the Sabres' Jochen Hecht, who scored his first goal on Saturday. "We have to play 60-minute games. We have to be committed to our system and play smart. We can't go out and turn the puck over."

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller made 21 saves on Saturday, and has a 4.58 goals-against average through two games.

"We did a better job,'' he said. "We made a step forward, and it's not going to happen all at once.''

Miller was 2-0-2 with a 2.83 GAA against the Thrashers last season, and is 4-1-2 with a 2.50 GAA lifetime against them.

Atlanta right wing Marian Hossa, who had team highs of 43 goals and 57 assists last season, was scratched for Wednesday's game after injuring his groin in practice Monday, and also will miss this game. Hossa played in all 82 games last season, and has played in at least 80 games in each of his last six seasons.

Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal of the season Wednesday, and has three goals in four games against Buffalo last season.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 33 shots against the Senators, and was 2-1-1 with a 3.07 GAA against the Sabres last season. He is 4-3-1 with a 2.91 GAA in his career against Buffalo.

by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us

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