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Embarrassed was how the Buffalo Sabres felt after their dismal opening-night performance against the Detroit Red Wings in Marine Midland Arena.

It's also a word that should come to mind when the Sabres think of tonight's opponent at the M-Arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30, Empire, Radio 550, 710).

Last year, coach Terry Crisp's Lightning came here and humbled the Sabres not once, but twice, 6-1 and 5-2, in performances that were probably the low points on the home schedule for the team's last year in the Aud.

The 6-1 loss in the M-Arena inaugural was enough bad news. Monday's announcement that winger Brad May will miss two months after surgery on his right shoulder didn't brighten the picture.

"That's a real tough blow," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "People want us to be an aggressive hockey club and the other night (against the Red Wings) we were missing three of our most aggressive guys (May, defenseman Bob Boughner and holdout forward Matthew Barnaby)."

Boughner missed three games with a broken bone in his foot but is ready to play. Nolan said the defenseman will be in the lineup tonight.

"Getting our focus and concentration back," is what Nolan and his coaches emphasized in two days of practice since the Detroit debacle.

"Everybody has off nights," Nolan said. "So we'll give them a grace period for one time and one time only and let them know that kind of performance can't be tolerated any longer and there is no excuse for it."

The emphasis also was on skating and attacking more aggressively.

"The last couple of days, we finally got our 'jump' back," Nolan said. "We might not be the biggest club in the world, but we can sure skate. . . . We have to start using our legs to our advantage. Let's start moving and let's start getting on the other team's defense."

"Maybe," said winger Dixon Ward, "we're reading too much about the depleted offense that this team has."

Whatever the reasons, the Sabres have scored only six goals in four games.

May underwent surgery Monday afternoon to repair the right shoulder that originally was injured during the World Championships last spring in Europe. He reinjured it when he took a swing and missed during a fight with Ronnie Stern of the Flames in Calgary Oct. 6.

Sabres general manager John Muckler said May could have continued to play, but at the risk of further damaging the shoulder and undergoing season-ending surgery.

"Dr. Marzo (Dr. John Marzo, the Sabres' orthopedics consultant) determined the best thing to do was have the operation now," Muckler said.

After the initial injury, Muckler said, the Sabres were advised that surgery was unnecessary. Instead, May underwent a rehabilitation program to strengthen the muscles in the area.

"Dr. Marzo recommended putting Brad on a rehab program, which Brad thought was successful," Muckler said. "He was boxing all summer and on a weight program and he was religious about it."

The Sabres made no move Monday to replace May on the roster. The only spare forward on hand is veteran Anatoli Semenov.

The Sabres reported no progress Monday in contract negotiations with Barnaby, and Muckler indicated that the organization is beginning to lose some patience.

"It's going to get to the point where the organization is going to make a stand," Muckler said. "However, we don't want it to get to that.

"It's hard to pay big money to a person who has only been in the league for one year, a year we missed the playoffs," Muckler said. "What's the worst that can happen? We miss the playoffs without him?"

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