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SURGERY SIDELINES MAY FOR TWO MONTHS

Buffalo Sabres left winger Brad May had surgery on his right shoulder this afternoon and will be sidelined for at least two months, the team announced.

May originally suffered an injury to the shoulder during the World Championships in late April, then aggravated it in a fight with the Flames' Ronnie Stern in a game Oct. 6 in Calgary.

That's more bad news for a team off to a 1-3 start. The team's coaching staff wanted to work on the Sabres' problems as quickly as possible after watching them get thrashed by the Detroit Red Wings, 6-1, on Saturday night. On Sunday, they led the players through a spirited 90-minute session in which everyone was in almost constant motion.

"It was a good, high-tempo practice," said coach Ted Nolan. "We worked on moving the puck around."

Nolan might have given the players a day off had they done a better job against the Red Wings. They were tired after coming off a tough road trip through Western Canada, and the emotional opening Saturday of their new home, the Marine Midland Arena. But center Michael Peca knows the team didn't deserve to enjoy a beautiful fall day after its effort on Saturday night.

"We've been through a pretty tough schedule, but we're not going to make excuses," he said. "We've got to be accountable for our actions. The energy level wasn't there, but we still have the ability to work as hard as we can. You can't give up breakaways and one-timers in the slot, particularly to a team like that. They're going to kill you, like they did. It's just a matter of regrouping and coming back hard."

Many players said Sunday that a few blowouts can be expected in a long, 82-game season, especially with a young team. However, they all agreed the timing of this one couldn't have been worse.

Fans who had this date circled on their calendars for months spent the evening waiting in vain for something to cheer about.

"Those games, you want to forget them sometimes but they are good to bring up at other times," defenseman Darryl Shannon said.

"You want to take it as a learning experience. That's the only thing that it probably was good for. It wasn't the way we wanted things to turn out. We have to learn from it to make us a better team."

"We certainly were disappointed in the outcome," center Brian Holzinger added. "It was the home opener. The fans were all riled up, and the team should be all riled up. For whatever reason, we didn't get the job done."

Part of the practice was spent trying to make sure that the rookies kept their spirits up.

"That's where veteran leadership has to come in," he said. "Those guys (the young players) are going to be the future of the organization. There's no secret about that. They're real good hockey players, but the veterans have to make sure those guys don't get down on themselves or on the team."

Rebounding from a game like Saturday's is never easy. But the Sabres have a couple of chances this week to erase the bad first impression they made on their home fans.

They will host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

"We have to get back to hard work, get back to basics," Holzinger said. "We have another chance on Tuesday night to break in the building with a win. We're going to play a very good Tampa Bay team, so we've got our hands full again."

Nolan said rookie winger Vaclav Varada was sent to Rochester on Friday so that he can get some playing time.

"It makes no sense to keep a young kid like that around here and not play him for a couple of weeks," Nolan said. "Curtis Brown and Wayne Primeau stepped up their play for the regular season; they're going to play."

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