Avalanche-Sabres Preview

The Associated Press

Colorado's season-opening win streak finally came to an end, but a matchup with the Buffalo Sabres' league-worst offense should help the Avalanche get back on track.

Led by stellar goaltending, Colorado will look to keep the Sabres bottled up and take a sixth straight victory in the series in Buffalo on Saturday night.

The Avalanche (6-1-0) finished one win shy of matching the franchise's best start with a 4-2 home loss to Detroit on Thursday. Colorado had yielded the same amount of goals over its previous four games combined, but Semyon Varlamov had a rough outing despite 24 saves. He entered with a 1.20 goals-against average.

The club still leads the league in GAA (1.43) and save percentage (95.8).

Meanwhile, the Avs had 38 of their own shots turned away by backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who was filling in for the injured Jimmy Howard.

"We're 6-1. We still have the best or second-best record in the league," said Matt Duchene, who went without a point for just the second time this season. He has three goals in two career games versus Buffalo.

"It's unfortunate we couldn't have kept it going against these guys, but we played hard and played really well."

The Sabres (1-7-1) will find themselves in a particularly bad matchup, with a 1.1 goals-per-game average that is the league's lowest. They're scoring on just 9.4 percent of power plays (3 for 32), also ranking near the bottom of the NHL.

Buffalo was shut out for a second time while managing 25 shots in a 3-0 loss at Vancouver on Thursday. An apparent goal by Thomas Vanek in the third period was overturned after officials reviewed the play.

The Sabres, whose only win came 4-3 in a shootout at the New York Islanders on Tuesday, were booed off the ice following the second period. Fans also vocalized their discontent with "Fire Darcy" chants - a reference to general manager Darcy Regier.

Regier didn't comment, but in terms of turning things around, coach Ron Rolston put the onus on his players.

"If we don't play the right way, they're creating their own frustration," Rolston said. "So they've got to figure that out."

One of the few bright spots for Buffalo has been the solid play of Ryan Miller, who has posted a misleading 2.49 goals-against average. He's stopped 93.5 percent of the 231 shots against him - the league's highest total and 30 more than Varlamov has seen.

"He's been our best player from the start," Rolston said.

Colorado will be without enforcer Cody McLeod, who has been offered a hearing by the league's department of player safety after receiving a 5-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct Thursday for his hit on Niklas Kronwall.

Kronwall was carried off on a stretcher, but was moving all his extremities in the locker room following the game. He was later diagnosed with a concussion and also suffered cuts on his ear.

McLeod, one of the league leaders in penalty minutes with 27, could be suspended for more than five games.

"From the bench, I thought Kronwall turned his back at the last minute," coach Patrick Roy said. "Does that make it dirty? I guess (director of player safety Brendan) Shanahan has to make a decision."

Paul Stastny has five assists in four career games against Buffalo, which hasn't beaten Colorado since Dec. 4, 2005.