Avalanche-Sabres Preview

The Associated Press

The surging Buffalo Sabres suddenly find themselves just outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Colorado Avalanche have used an impressive run of their own to climb into the mix in the West.

With both teams seeking a third consecutive win, the visiting Avalanche and Sabres meet for the only time this season Wednesday night.

Buffalo (33-29-8), which sat in a last-place tie in the conference Feb. 18, has since used a 9-2-1 run to climb into ninth. The Sabres picked up another two points and inched closer to the East's final postseason berth with Monday's 3-2 overtime win over Montreal.

Left wing Tyler Ennis scored twice, and after Ryan Miller allowed the tying goal with five seconds left in regulation, defenseman Tyler Myers found the back of the net 2:01 into OT.

"Two months ago, I would say it would've been very tough with our group," Myers said. "But I think we've come a very long, long way ... the way we responded was a big sign of life with our group.

"Definitely big in the sense that we got the two points. Every game here on out is gonna be a crucial game for us. It's so tight, it's gonna come right down to the end, we gotta battle for every two points."

Myers won't be around to face the Avalanche after being suspended Tuesday for three games for an illegal hit from behind Monday.

Miller finished with 26 saves and helped kill both of the Canadiens' power-play opportunities. Buffalo hasn't allowed a power-play goal in a season-high nine straight games.

"Right now we're looking for positives to build on and wins to build on," said Miller, who improved to 9-1-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average in his last 11 starts.

"(Monday) was a good win, we'll throw that scramble out the window, we got the two points we needed and we'll build for the next one."

Keeping things going, however, likely won't be easy against Colorado (37-30-4), which is one of a handful of teams vying for the last couple of postseason spots in the West.

The Avalanche improved to 4-1-0 over their last five with Monday's 3-2 overtime win over Anaheim. After blowing its second one-goal lead late in the third period, Colorado won on rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog's 19th goal of the season.

"We're in playoff mode already, and we've been in playoff mode the last couple of weeks," Landeskog said. "We just have to keep it going."

Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves and has gone 7-2-0 with a 1.32 GAA and two shutouts over his last nine games, surrendering more than two goals once over that stretch.

"When he's on his game, he's tough to beat because he's so athletic," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's good."

Varlamov went 2-0-0 while allowing one goal in his two most recent matchups against Buffalo while with Washington.

Miller is 0-1-2 with a 2.55 GAA in three career meetings with the Avalanche. He turned away 30 shots in a 4-3 overtime road loss Jan. 4, 2011.

Colorado has taken all four contests in the series since 2006-07, with each of the last three going past regulation. The Avalanche lead the West with a combined 14 overtime and shootout victories.

The Sabres, 11-2-4 over their last 17 games at First Niagara Center, are riding a season-best five-game home winning streak. Buffalo hasn't won six in a row on its own ice since Jan. 17-Feb. 15, 2007.

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