Sharks-Sabres Preview

The Associated Press

The San Jose Sharks picked up where they left off before the Olympic break.

Joe Pavelski is glad he didn't.

Pavelski looks to build on a hat trick, as the Sharks attempt to beat the last-place Buffalo Sabres for the first time in four years Friday night.

San Jose (38-16-6) has won four of five after routing Philadelphia 7-3 on Thursday in its first game in 20 days. The Sharks were outshot 10-5 and trailed 2-1 after one period before outscoring the Flyers 5-0 in the second.

"We didn't have a lot of purpose in our game in the first period, especially in their zone," coach Todd McLellan said. "Kind of skating around waiting for something to happen. We got our forecheck going in the second (and) a lot more pucks to the goaltender, which created second and third chances."

Pavelski made his chances count Thursday, scoring on all three of his shots in the second period for his second hat trick of the season. The outburst also came after he had one goal in eight games prior to joining the United States in Sochi.

"They were just going in," said Pavelski, who is tied with Toronto's Phil Kessel for second in the league with 32 goals. "Life is good. Hopefully they keep coming."

That hasn't been the case against the Sabres (17-34-8), as Pavelski has three goals in seven career meetings and none in the past four. He came up empty on three shots while getting an assist in a 5-4 shootout loss Nov. 5, as the Sharks' losing streak in the series reached five games.

San Jose hasn't defeated the Sabres since Jan. 23, 2010, and its last win in Buffalo came on Dec. 2, 2005, losing the three subsequent visits.

Logan Couture is looking to build on his two goals - one short-handed - from Thursday after missing 16 games due to hand surgery.

The Sabres have returned from the Olympic break to win back-to-back games for just the third time this season, beating Boston 5-4 behind Matt D'Agostini's goal 22 seconds into overtime Wednesday.

They haven't won three in a row since April 13-17.

Ryan Miller will likely get the call in net since he has a 1.57 goals-against average in winning his last five starts against the Sharks. He was terrific in the latest matchup, making 47 saves through overtime before turning aside three of four shootout attempts.

He was rested in favor of backup Jhonas Enroth on Wednesday, a day after he had 36 saves in a 3-2 win over Carolina. Despite being considered among the elite goaltenders in the league, Miller is being shopped around ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline.

Buffalo may be without Tyler Ennis for a second straight games due to general body soreness. The center's 30 points are one back of Cody Hodgson for the Sabres lead, while they're tied with a team-high 14 goals.

"(He's) still a little sore. But hopefully, knock on wood, he'll be ready to go," interim coach Ted Nolan told the team's official website.

If Ennis is unable to go, then Nolan will likely have Ville Leino center the Sabres' top line with Matt Moulson and Drew Stafford. Leino had two assists in that role Wednesday, getting one on Moulson's game-tying tally with 53 seconds left in regulation.

"In many ways, I'm more of a playmaker so that's my first thought," said Leino, whose 12 points are all assists. "Matty and Stafford are goal scorers, so it's my job to get them the puck and try to make good chances."

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