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New York Islanders At Buffalo Sabres: Islanders Start Stretch Without Suspended Players

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will try to stretch their season-best winning streak to four straight games this afternoon when they take on the feisty New York Islanders at HSBC Arena.

The Sabres won three straight for the first time this season thanks to Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Panthers. Mike Weber and Thomas Vanek both scored in regulation and Tyler Myers put home the game-winner with 4.5 seconds left in overtime.

The defenseman secured his club's fifth victory in six games by ripping a shot from the top of the right circle into the net.

Ryan Miller made 24 saves in his 30th straight start for the Sabres, who are three points back of a potential playoff spot.

Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff is expected to send Miller out for his 31st straight start, which is three shy of his career-best run. Miller was given practice off on Friday in an effort to keep him fresh and is 11-8-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average versus the Islanders in his career.

"Lindy and I tried to look a little bit ahead ... and [Friday] was a day he said to take some time off the ice, so I can get a workout in, I can watch video, I can relax a little bit and start prepping for our game Sunday," Miller told Buffalo's website.

While Miller will start, Steve Montador is doubtful due to concussion-like symptoms, while Patrick Kaleta is questionable with a broken left hand.

The Sabres will play seven of their final eight games this month at home, where they are 12-12-1 this season.

The Islanders close out their season series with the Sabres having won four of six, including back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game run from Dec. 29-Jan. 3. They did so with their sticks and fists on Friday, blowing past the Penguins, 9-3, in a game that featured 65 penalties and 346 penalty minutes, 183 of those assessed to New York.

Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner both scored twice and had an assist, John Tavares ended with a goal and three helpers and Travis Hamonic had a goal and two assists in a game that served as revenge for a 3-0 setback to the Penguins on Feb. 2.

Pittsburgh's Max Talbot hit Blake Comeau from behind in that one, sidelining the forward with a concussion, while Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson knocked down Isles netminder Rick DiPietro with one punch late in the game. DiPietro suffered facial fractures in the fight and is out 4-to-6 weeks.

Micheal Haley avenged his teammates, fighting both Talbot and Johnson in the third period while also scoring his first career goal in the game. He was recalled from the minors prior to the game.

"Obviously there was a lot of emotion out there tonight," said New York coach Jack Capuano. "They stuck up for each other cause they're a close-knit group and it was a good win against a good hockey team."

New York scored nine goals in a game for the first time since March 25, 2003 and also got 35 saves from Mikko Koskinen in his third NHL start.

While the fans at Nassau Coliseum likely enjoyed the action, the NHL did not. Islanders forward Trevor Gilles was suspended nine games for a blow to the head on Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi, while Matt Martin received a four-game span for dishing out punches to an unsuspecting Talbot.

The Islanders franchise was also fined $100,000.

"The actions by the Islanders' Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves," said Colin Campbell, the league's senior executive vice president of hockey operations. "The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension."

He later added in a release, "The Islanders also must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players."

The Isles and Sabres met three times in a nine-day span back in January, with New York winning the first two meetings before the Sabres claimed a road win on Jan. 23.

That snapped the Islanders' three-game series win streak and they have lost eight of their last 11 in Buffalo.

Next Game

New York Islanders
@ Buffalo Sabres

Sunday, Feb 13, 2011, 3:00 PM EST
HSBC Arena

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