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Beyond Desperate
Much-needed win will be tough to find in Ottawa

KANATA, ON (LGS) — The Buffalo Sabres skate into Canada's capital beyond desperate for a win. But the league's best team is not about to hand one to them on a silver platter.

Buffalo and Ottawa, two teams that have played each other more times than any other pair of teams since the lockout ended, will face-off once again at 7:30 p.m. (MSG-TV, WGR-AM).

Goaltender Jocelyn Thibault was named the starter on Tuesday, before Buffalo's latest loss at the hands of Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

Since Christmas, the Sabres have faced Ottawa and New Jersey twice apiece, losing all four.

In Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss, it took a Jason Pominville goal with 1:47 remaining in the third period to even record the one point awarded for getting to overtime.

But the Sabres again squandered an Ales Kotalik goal in the shootout as Rochester-native Brian Gionta tied the extra session before Patrick Elias won it on the last shot. It was the second time this month that the team has done this, with the first being the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.

Ryan Miller made 29 saves in the loss.

The Sabres are battling through their seven game winless skid despite some costly injuries to key players. Maxim Afinogenov, Derek Roy and Tim Connolly are all out.

Tim Connolly will miss tonight's game with a Groin Injury. Lindy Ruff said Connolly has "general aches and pains."

Coach Lindy Ruff stated Thursday that Daniel Paille will play in Ottawa . The rugged winger has been out since being on the receiving end of a thundering body check last Friday in the team's 5-3 loss to the Senators in Buffalo.

Paille leads the team in plus/minus this season, and is one of the team's few pleasant surprises with 16 points.

Ottawa hasn't played a game since defeating Tampa Bay in overtime 4-3 Saturday.

Mike Fisher scored 3:17 into overtime to give Ottawa their second straight victory following a pair of defeats to Washington. The first win came the night before in Buffalo.

Randy Robitaille scored twice, while Dany Heatley scored his 25th goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3.

Ray Emery started in net for the second straight game and stopped 16 shots for the victory.

This will be the first trip to Ottawa for Buffalo since Nov. 15.

Fun Fact of the Game:
Since the lockout ended, Buffalo and Ottawa have played the most games against each other than any other pair of teams. This is the fifth meeting of the season for the two teams. With 10 total playoff matchups and the regular season games, this game will be the 31st time the two teams have squared off since Oct. 8, 2005.

By Timothy Chipp, LGS Columnist
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