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GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins (8-17-6) at Buffalo Sabres (20-10-1).
TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Goaltender Martin Biron and the Buffalo Sabres put a damper on the debut of Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien and the return of star Mario Lemieux.
The Sabres hope to continue their strong play and sweep the home-and-home series as the teams meet again, this time in Buffalo.
Biron won his 12th consecutive start in a 4-3 overtime victory Friday over the Penguins, becoming the first goaltender to accomplish that feat since Martin Brodeur for the New Jersey Devils in 1997-98. Biron, who was credited with a loss in a shootout Nov. 22 against the New York Rangers, has not lost a start since a 6-1 defeat Nov. 12 to the Ottawa Senators.
Chris Drury's power-play goal gave the Sabres their eighth straight road victory, two shy of the franchise record set by the 1983-84 team that also is a league record they share with two other teams.
Buffalo held a 3-2 lead when Pittsburgh's Zigmund Palffy scored a disputed goal with 2:17 left in regulation. Biron sprawled across the goal line and caught Palffy's deflection from the left post. The game was delayed for a lengthy review before it was determined that Biron's glove was in the net when he caught the puck.
Drury scored the game-winner at 1:32 of overtime, a no-look backhander following a shot by Daniel Briere to produce Buffalo's 10th win in 11 games.
"The rebound was there, and I just kind of tried to whack it and it found a hole and crossed the line," Drury said.
With Therrien losing his first game as Pittsburgh's new coach, the Penguins lost for the ninth time in 10 games (1-9-0). Therrien, a defensive-minded coach, replaced Eddie Olczyk on Thursday and immediately began instituting his conservative system at practice that day.
"We need to have a winning attitude, and do what winners do to win," said Therrien, who intends to use five consecutive days off as a training camp next week. "There's a price to pay, and it's part of my duty to make sure those guys pay that price."
One of Therrien's other notable moves was giving 18-year-old rookie Sidney Crosby the "A" as one of the Penguins' alternate captains.
Lemieux, who missed four games with an irregular heartbeat, was paired with Palffy and Crosby. Palffy also had missed the previous four games due to a groin injury. His goal marked just the second time in the last nine games the Penguins had scored three or more goals.
The Penguins have scored just 10 goals in seven games this month, and with two goals, Mark Recchi is the only multi-goal scorer in December.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 15): Penguins - 22 points, 5th place, 22 PB, Atlantic Division. Sabres - 41 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Penguins - Crosby, 13 goals and 31 points; Crosby and Palffy, 18 assists; Brooks Orpik, 57 PIM. Sabres - Ales Kotalik, 14 goals; Teppo Numminen, 20 assists; Tim Connolly, 23 points; Maxim Afinogenov, 34 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 15): Penguins - Power play: 14.9 percent (30 for 201), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.9 percent (167 for 209), 25th. Sabres - Power play: 21.1 percent (38 for 180), 3rd. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (135 for 161), 8th.
GOALTENDERS: Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury (2-6-1, 0 SO, 2.95 GAA); Jocelyn Thibault (1-8-2, 0, 4.44). Sabres - Biron (13-4-1, 0, 3.05); Mika Noronen (1-2-0, 0, 4.26).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 16; Sabres, 4-3. At Pittsburgh, the Sabres made it three straight one-goal victories over the Penguins this season when Drury scored in overtime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Penguins - 4-9-3 on the road; Sabres - 10-5-1 at home.
|Dec 17 '05||PIT 3 at BUF 4||C. Drury|
|Dec 16 '05||BUF 4 at PIT 3 - OT||C. Drury|
|Nov 29 '05||BUF 3 at PIT 2||A. Kotalik|
|Oct 10 '05||PIT 2 at BUF 3 - OT||J. Hecht|