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GOALIE SHUFFLE CAN'T STOP THE CARNAGE

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff tried just about every option with his goaltenders during Tuesday's 7-2 rout by the Red Wings.

He started Dwayne Roloson in the nets, but pulled him in favor of Martin Biron after the Wings took a 3-0 lead. After Biron gave up three more goals, Ruff went back to Roloson to finish up.

"Our goalies have played so well for such a long time," Ruff said. "There were a couple of shots you might like back, but you can't point your finger at either Marty or Dwayne Roloson. . . . You're going to have a night like this. I tried to change the momentum by pulling one and getting the other guy in there. But that didn't work either."

It's been an odd couple of games for Roloson. He filled in for Biron after two periods of Monday's loss to the New Jersey Devils. Tuesday's game was the first time in recent memory that a Sabre goalie returned to the game after being pulled without an injury.

"Every game we play, I have to prepare like I'm going to be in there," Roloson said. "I have to make sure if I'm ready if the opportunity comes, whether I'm starting or sitting on the bench. That's difficult, but you have to stay in the game as much as you can."
The Detroit Red Wings have spent most of the last decade as one of the annual favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Little will change when the calendar hits 2000.

The Red Wings' 7-2 victory over the Sabres Tuesday night gave them 54 points, the most in the National Hockey League. They are the only team with fewer than 10 losses.

The Red Wings' offensive nucleus -- Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov -- has been together for some time.

"You've got to beat the Detroit Red Wings. They don't beat themselves," Sabres forward Dixon Ward said. "It comes from a lot of experience and having a lot of smart players. They've got guys who do the right things. You have to be very patient and work extremely hard against them."

The Red Wings also offer a group of defensemen who are quick in transition. Nicklas Lidstrom, Larry Murphy, Steve Duchesne and Chris Chelios give Detroit plenty of experience and talent at the blue line.

The Sabres had a couple of surprises when it came to their lineup, as Michal Grosek and Jason Woolley were missing. After the game Ruff said Grosek had a physical problem, while Woolley was just a scratch.

"Grosek came in this morning with a sore shoulder and said he didn't think he'd be able to play," Ruff said.

"Jason has struggled for a long period of time. I took him out for a little wake-up call, and he should respond well to that."

Paul Kruse was Buffalo's other scratch.
Buffalo finished with a 34-27 edge in shots. The Red Wings scored six times on 10 shots in the first 11:03 of the second period. . . . Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play; the Sabres are now 1 for their last 48 with the man advantage.

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