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Injured Hecht is sidelined for at least a week

Jochen Hecht's All-Star break has been extended.

The Buffalo Sabres left winger, who suffered a "lower-body injury" late in Monday's shootout loss to Boston, will miss at least the next three games, coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday.

Hecht refused to comment after his teammates practiced in HSBC Arena. On Monday, he talked with the trainer behind the bench with five minutes remaining, tested his injury for one shift, then walked to the dressing room.

The Sabres play Boston again tonight in the arena, host Vancouver on Friday and go to Montreal on Saturday. The All-Star break begins Sunday, so Hecht's next chance to get on the ice won't come until Jan. 26 in Columbus.

Forward Drew Stafford has been recalled from Rochester to fill Hecht's roster spot. But he won't be joining Hecht's linemates. Ruff will unite left wing Thomas Vanek with center Daniel Briere and right wing Jason Pominville.

Ruff was examining who would take Vanek's regular spot with center Derek Roy and right wing Maxim Afinogenov. Stafford may join them, or Jiri Novotny might move up from the fourth line to center Roy and Afinogenov.

Forward Paul Gaustad didn't practice and will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury.


The Sabres have their first three-game winless streak of the season. Think Ruff is concerned? Here's a sampling of his comments Tuesday:

* "We've got to get out of the funk tomorrow. Not any later than tomorrow."

* "I think it's officially a slump."

* "We were the team that was always doing the hunting before. Now we're the team that's being hunted. Recently, we haven't handled it well."

* "We've got to pass this test. It is a test."

Ruff was particularly concerned about the work ethic of the Sabres, who have won just two of the past seven games.
"There's been times we haven't worked hard enough -- whether it's on special teams, defensive zone play -- but it hasn't been good enough," Ruff said. "That's just the bottom line. Don't chalk it up to anything else. There's certain areas we've been outplayed, certain areas we've been outworked."

The Sabres have been erratic with the puck lately, especially when dumping it into the other team's zone. The puck often doesn't get in deep, and their opponents quickly turn the other way.

"I just need a little more diligence done when it comes to forechecking on bad dump-ins, and not just giving up and letting the other team just walk right out of the zone," Ruff said. "That's where we've been bad. We haven't stayed on the puck in the zone on what I call 'bad plays.' It allows the other team to walk out of the zone, and it makes it pretty easy for them."


The Bruins have won just two of their past eight games. That's worse than the Sabres' seven-game stretch. But while the Sabres were answering questions about what's been going wrong, Boston came to town with a one-game winning streak after Monday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Sabres.

"It's funny how that one goal in the shootout makes a big difference in your attitude and how you feel," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said.


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