Buffalo Sabres Go in Search of Another Milestone at HSBC Arena

Paul TaylorCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2010

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 21:  Patrick Lalime #40 of the Buffalo Sabres gets set to face a shot in the warm-up prior to a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 21, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Sabres defeated the Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Recently, the theme for the Buffalo Sabres appears to have centered on records and milestones.

Two straight 4-3 victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers marked the first time in their history that Buffalo had won consecutive games after recovering from a three-goal deficit. 

The three-goal blitz in the first 2:11 of their 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning was the fastest three-goal start in franchise history. 

Lindy Ruff earned his 465th victory with the win against Tampa Bay.  This moved him into sole position of fourth place for career wins with one team.  The Sabres' head coach now needs another 35 victories to match Toe Blake's 500 wins with the Montreal Canadiens.

(Speaking of Ruff, he was part of Buffalo's previous record for their quickest three-goal start, scoring the second of the Sabres' three goals in the first 2:17 during a game against the New York Islanders in 1980.)

Now, as the Sabres prepare for back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche, another milestone is within reach.  Backup goaltender Patrick Lalime needs one more win to reach 200 for his career.

To put this into perspective, only 65 goaltenders have reached 200 victories in the history of the NHL.  Interestingly, Lalime also holds the record for the longest unbeaten start to a career (14-0-2).

Overall, the former Pittsburgh draft pick has a career record of 199-163, as well as 40 ties and 15 overtime or shootout losses.

Ruff has already announced that his No. 2 net-minder will start in one of the two games this weekend.  However, despite the fact that Colorado is the stronger opponent, Ryan Miller is apparently in line to start in goal tonight against Toronto. 

With one of the better road records this season (13-8-4), the Avalanche will provide tough opposition for the Sabres.  However, Lalime has been on fire of late, going 3-0-1 in his last four outings (including a 1.34 GAA and .960 save percentage).

Talking about the Quebec native's performances of late, including the game against Pittsburgh, Ruff told the Associated Press, "Everybody on the team is happy for him.  He’s a good guy, but to be able to step in and win games and help us dig one out of a pretty big hole was important for us."

The Sabres desperately need to continue their recent momentum by winning both games this weekend and, in the process, giving 35-year-old Lalime his milestone.  Certainly, few players are more deserving than the Quebec native, and it could set the team up perfectly before they embark on their season-defining seven-game road trip.

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