A year of twists and turns

'It's hard to identify precisely when the Buffalo Sabres took charge of Western New York. Was it while thriving during the regular season despite injuries to Briere, J.P. Dumont, Ryan Miller and Tim Connolly? When they strung five victories heading into the playoffs?'

Thrashers should provide big test

‘”There’s lots of motivation,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “They’re looking at closing the gap and we’re looking at trying to expand it. I think both teams should be highly motivated.”‘

Home fans providing added spark

‘The Sabres filled HSBC Arena to capacity 18 times last season. Tonight they will record their 19th sellout in 19 games when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.’

Sabres vs. Thrashers

‘G Kari Lehtonen has a .936 save percentage in winning five straight.’

The ’06 Six

‘For a guy who’d committed a tripping penalty in overtime of an NHL playoff game, Jay McKee sure got a surprising reward. McKee was the first to greet rookie Jason Pominville after the rookie winger scored perhaps the most memorable goal in Sabres history — certainly the most memorable in a decade — as Buffalo eliminated Ottawa in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.’

Nichol unrepentant after sneak attack on Spacek

‘Will somebody please introduce this guy to Todd Bertuzzi?’

Saturday’s Atlanta Coverage (Updated 3:00 p.m.)

Atlanta (23-10-6) at Buffalo (27-7-3) (AP)

Sabres try to snap Thrashers’ win streak (Sportsticker)

Atlanta Thrashers (23-10-6) at Buffalo Sabres (27-7-3) (The Sports Network)

Game # 38: Atlanta @ Buffalo (SabresFans.com)

Saturday’s Rochester Coverage

Amerks’ Dennis finds old form in net (Rochester D&C)

Kreps’ improvement makes for a solid line (Rochester D&C)

B-Sens succumb to another burst by Americans (Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin)

Rochester 5, Binghamton 3 (AP)

Amerks Beat BInghamton Again (RNews.com)

Dennis saves 31 as Amerks win 5-3 over B-Sens (Amerks.com)

Amerks defeat B-Sens 5-3 (BinghamtonSenators.com)

Sabres prove point in sweep of Hurricanes

‘“I don’t know about the other guys, but in my mind it’s still fresh,” said Kotalik, who scored on a penalty shot with 42 seconds left in the game, his fifth goal in as many games. “(Every) time I see Carolina on the other side it’s something you can’t forget, being knocked out in a Game 7.” “Every time we play them it’s something we think about,” Sabres forward Jason Pominville said. “We still have that in the back of our minds.”’

Cup champs swept away

'"They've been on a bit of a roll," Miller said. "After the first period, we really started moving the puck. It was a great start to the second period."'

Hairdo aside, Miller raises his game

'Miller doesn't care if he looks like Cousin It, so long as his game doesn't have a hair out of place.'

'Canes Adams enduring rough season

'The blue-collar center from Clarence has endured a tumultuous season after helping the Hurricanes win a Stanley Cup last spring. He broke his right wrist while blocking a shot in Game Seven of the finals, but offseason surgery wasn't successful. He was involved in a fistfight with teammate Bret Hedican during practice drills.'

Sabres find groove against Hurricanes

'"Basically, I said they didn't work. They didn't care about working," Ruff said. "We cheated our fans. We cheated everybody." Then his players responded in the final 40 minutes, as they have all season. Pominville scored 1 minute, 21 seconds into the second period, the first step toward turning a tightly contested game into a four-game sweep of the defending Stanley Cup champion and another dominant win this season.'

Sabres first-half award winners; team statistics

'Most Underrated Player: RW Jason Pominville – He quietly plays consistently well on a club filled with more recognizable offensive names. He ranks in the top five with 17 goals, 28 points, a plus-13 rating, one short-handed goal and three game-winning goals.'

Buffalo still special to Isles’ Nolan

‘”You have certain people in your life who help you through hard times,” Nolan says. “And certainly my family was there, but the support I had from the people of Buffalo was unbelievable. They were very special to help me get through it. So to go back and coach in that building, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”‘