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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
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
4th
DET 100
DAL 108
 
4th
BOS 109
ORL 92
 
4th
MIA 69
UTA 83
 
3rd
TOR 70
BRK 68
 
Half
SAN 45
MEM 52
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
HOU
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
IND
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
 
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
 
1st OT
UNCW 65
LIB 62
 
2nd
LOYC 65
ABCHRIST 39
 
2nd
MURST 79
ALCOR 46
 
Half
HOU 16
ARKPB 27
 
2nd
NW 57
CMICH 73
 
2nd
WKENT 66
CHIST 54
 
2nd
ODU 42
UGST 50
 
2nd
SMU 54
ILLCH 41
 
2nd
LALAF 104
MLGN 74
 
2nd
TULSA 68
MIZST 65
 
2nd
UWGB 59
MORE 42
 
2nd
NEOM 77
NCOL 62
 
2nd
TTU 73
SCST 30
 
2nd
DEN 58
TAMCC 47
 
Half
STEPH 27
TXST 30
 
2nd
STLU 54
TXPA 51
 
Half
MEM 42
USCU 29
 
2nd
ILLST 51
TENNM 52
 
1st
MSU 31
EMICH 16
 
1st
GRCN 44
INCWORD 37
 
1st
STAN 25
LMU 31
 
1st
BAY 26
NMST 20
 
1st
CIN 18
SDST 20
 
1st
AUB 28
WINT 18
 
10:00pm Tonight
NMU
CARK
 
10:00pm Tonight
PEPP
HOW
 
10:00pm Tonight
CPSL
NE
 
10:30pm Tonight
UNLV
PORT
11:00pm Tonight
OREG
CSNO
11:00pm Tonight
WASH
GRAM
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
2nd Intermission
MIN 1
BOS 2
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
DAL