Playoff hopes fading

'The Sabres now play 24 games over the next 46 days. Of those 24 games, Buffalo will play 17 against opponets currently over .500, six against division leaders, nine against non-playoff teams and 12 on the road.'

Hamel sits and waits for chance

'When he does play, Hamel generally sees little ice time as a member of the fourth line.'

Canada's win an emotional experience for Warrener

'Warrener, a native of Shaunavon, Sask., skated a Canadian flag around the rink partly out of pride and partly to laud it over his non-Canadian teammates, especially Tim Connolly and Erik Rasmussen, the two Sabres from the U.S.'

Amid circus atmosphere, Thrashers tame Sabres

'The Sabres had several more scoring chances and 12 more shots than the Thrashers, but they had trouble with goalie Ivan Hnilicka, who backed up Dominik Hasek for the Czech Republic in the Olympics.'

Tired or not, Kovalchuk keeps on scoring

'The 18-year-old raced down the left side, used Dany Heatley as a decoy on a developing two-on-one and blistered a low shot from the faceoff circle past goalie Martin Biron to put the Thrashers ahead at 16:54.'

Thrashers 2, Sabres 1

'"This hurts a lot," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "There's nothing to be happy about. We didn't win the game and that's the bottom line. You win any way you can and we didn't get the job done."'

Atlanta 2, Buffalo 1

'"Every game is a do-or-die, must win right now," Sabres left wing Erik Rasmussen said. "It's something we shouldn't even have to talk about. Every game we go into, it's going to be 'we have to win, we have to win.' If we don't start winning early on, we're going to find ourselves 15-to-20 points out and then we're done, so every game's a must win."'

Afinogenov has bigger goals than bronze

'The Sabres, with 25 games over the next 47 days, must displace three teams to climb into the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff slot. They enter tonight's game 23-26-7-1, seven points behind the eighth-place New York Rangers.'

Canada's win leads to sob story

'"Being removed from Canada you kind of lose how much it really means," Ruff said. "And then you turn on the Canadian broadcasting and watch the streets of Toronto and Vancouver. . . . It really is something big. It took 50 years, but they've done it again. For Canada, I don't think there's anything bigger for them."'

Sabres vs. Thrashers

'Five of their past six games have reached OT with a 2-2 score.'

Sabres face desperation

'Of Buffalo's 25 remaining games: 18 are against opponents currently with winning records; six are against current division leaders; and 13 of them are on the road, where the Sabres have gone 9-15-3-1 so far this season.'

Biron to carry load

'With the Buffalo Sabres scheduled to play 25 games over the next 47 days, look for goaltender Martin Biron to be carrying most of the load. No, not all 25. But you can bet that as long as the Sabres are in playoff contention, Biron will see the majority of the action.'

Games, deadlines pack Sabres' busy calendar

'There probably will be trades between now and the March 19 deadline, but it's almost certain the Sabres won't acquire a new backup goalie, a role that will prove prominent during their cluttered calendar.'

Regier gives Ruff thumbs up

'Ruff, whose record is 177-151-57, has another season left on his contract. It's expected he eventually will be given an extension to coincide with Regier's deal.'

Pride prompted Satan to return to Olympics

'Satan, unbeknownst even to some in Buffalo Sabres management, returned to Salt Lake City last week to play once more for Slovakia, even though the team's medal hopes already had been snuffed.'