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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 1st (All times Eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (15-30-8) at Colorado Avalanche (34-14-5), 3 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche will aim for a third straight victory when they welcome the lowly Buffalo Sabres for Saturday's afternoon battle at the Pepsi Center.

Colorado has played terrific hockey of late, going 11-3-1 over the last 15 games, but the club is still running third in the Central Division and the Avs are four points behind the second-place Blues.

One of the biggest reasons for Colorado's surprisingly successful season has been the play of No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The 25-year-old Russian is 27-9-5 this season with a 2.47 goals against average and .924 save percentage and he was rewarded with a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension on Thursday, hours before he helped Colorado hold on for a 5-4 home win over Minnesota.

Varlamov's extension kicks in at the start of next season and makes him property of the Avs through the 2008-19 campaign.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon's breakaway goal with 2:25 remaining in the third period wound up being the game-winner for the Avalanche against the Wild.

Colorado had entered the third with a 4-1 lead, but the Wild got two goals before MacKinnon beat Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom on the glove side to make it 5-3. Minnesota's Jason Pominville scored 11 seconds after MacKinnon, but the Wild couldn't complete the comeback.

Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny, John Mitchell and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Avalanche.

"It was a tight game and we need to figure out these third periods where we have the lead and you know, we kind of relinquish that," said Mitchell

Varlamov made 31 saves to end the month with a 10-1-1 record and set a club record for the most wins by a goalie in January. His 10 victories in January also matched a franchise mark for any month, joining Craig Anderson (October 2009), Peter Budaj (March 2007) and Dan Bouchard (February 1981) in the club annals.

Colorado improved to 18-7-3 as the host with Thursday's win and this afternoon's test marks the club's final home tilt before the Olympic break. The Avs will start a four-game road trip Monday in New Jersey and will complete the swing next Saturday against the New York Islanders.

The Sabres are last in the NHL with 38 points through 53 games and Buffalo has a poor 6-15-3 record as the road team in 2013-14. However, the Sabres have posted wins in two of their last three away tilts and they managed to record a 3-2 regulation win Thursday at Phoenix.

Zemgus Girgensons netted the game-winner while his club was shorthanded early in the third period, as Buffalo slipped past the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott also supplied offense for the Sabres. Ryan Miller collected his second win in three starts thanks to 38 saves, and improved to 6-0-0 all-time against the Coyotes.

"We wanted to come in and play extremely hard," Ott said. "I thought we did that tonight."

The win did come at a cost for the Sabres, however, as forward Matt Moulson suffered an upper-body injury in the third period and did not return. Moulson, who has nine goals and 15 assists in 40 games since joining the Sabres in late October as part of the Thomas Vanek trade, is expected to miss the team's final four games before the Olympic break.

Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is also questionable for Saturday after missing Thursday's game with an illness.

Colorado has won six straight meetings against the Sabres, who last beat the Avs in a 6-4 decision in Denver on Dec. 4, 2005. Buffalo has lost two straight at Pepsi Center since that victory.

02/01 10:43:38 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
 
Final
DET 15
BAL 2
 
Final
MIA 7
MIAFLA 1
 
Final
PHI 5
NYY 5
 
Final
BOS 2
NEASTERN 1
 
Final
TOR 7
PIT 8
 
Final
CIN 10
CLE 0
 
Final
OAK 9
SFG 4
 
Final
BOS 1
BOSTONCOLL 0
 
Final
ARI 4
ASU 0
 
Final
CLE 110
BOS 79
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
NYK 86
SAC 124
Final
ATL 104
HOU 96
Final
MEM 82
UTA 93
Final
CHI 97
WAS 92
Final
DEN 106
MIL 95
Final
UMO 70
AKR 63
 
Final
NAVY 56
ARMY 52
 
Final
BST 60
EMICH 67
 
Final
BUT 54
GEOR 60
Final
IND 63
IOWA 77
Final
FLGC 81
JVU 63
 
Final
USCU 90
KNST 54
 
Final
BGU 80
KSU 81
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 73
LIP 76
 
Final
HC 62
GHND 45
 
Final
RUTG 50
MD 60
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
BUF 93
OHIO 66
 
Final
ALA 74
MISS 82
Final
DAY 75
RIU 59
Final
CMICH 85
TOL 77
 
Final
DET 77
YOUNG 67
Final
UNF 81
STET 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 83
HOUB 71
 
Final
NDAK 78
NEOM 80
 
Final
NILL 65
WMICH 63
 
Final
ILLCH 60
WRST 57
Final
MIZZ 63
AUB 61
Final
UGA 64
KENT 72
 
Final
NW 82
MICH 78
 
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
 
Final
UF 66
TEXAM 62
 
1st OT
KU 70
WVU 66
 
Final
CREI 72
VILL 76
 
Final
PHI 2
CAL 3
Final
NJD 3
NAS 1
Final
CLB 3
WAS 5
Final
TAM 3
BUF 0
Final
FLA 2
TOR 3
Final
MIN 3
OTT 2
Final
DAL 3
NYI 2
Final
ARI 1
ANA 4
2nd Intermission
VAN 2
SJS 4