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BIRON HAPPY WITH HIS EFFORT

Martin Biron admitted he went into the Buffalo Sabres' opening preseason game with something to prove. The goaltender had high expectations for himself, and he felt he met them.

The Sabres fell to the Ottawa Senators, 1-0, Friday night at HSBC Arena, but Biron played an effective game. Working as Buffalo's first No. 1 goaltender since Dominik Hasek took over in 1992-93, Biron settled in and stopped 17 shots.

"I felt good, getting the puck in the pads, in the glove, in the chest," Biron said. "A few of the rebounds were really close in front of me so I could freeze them.

"I'm going to go home and put that away and feel good when I come back (to practice this) morning."

The Senators beat Biron with a shot between his legs at 6:55 of the second period when Joe Murphy tipped a blue-line shot from Curtis Leschyshyn.

Buffalo's best chance to tie the game came at 16:58 of the third period, when Slava Kozlov tried to stuff a point-blank shot past Ottawa's Patrick Lalime. But the seemingly wide-open net slammed shut with Lalime's left leg.

"He probably made 10 to 12 great saves in the game, and that was the difference," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said of Lalime, who finished with 30 saves.

Sabres defenseman Rhett Warrener left the game with 3:26 left in the first period after taking a cross-check to the head from Jason Doig. Warrener probably would have been able to return for a regular-season game but was kept out as a precaution.
Only single seats are available for tonight's home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets after nearly 7,000 complimentary tickets were distributed to police, fire and emergency medical personnel from Erie and Niagara Counties. The Sabres also issued about 4,000 for Friday night's game.

Pregame ceremonies honored the heroes and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Buffalo and Ottawa players stood side-by-side at center ice for the Canadian and U.S. national anthems, sung by Doug Allen.

With Buffalo police and fire departments presenting the U.S. flag, the arena lights then went out and -- as fans waved red, white and blue glow sticks in the darkness -- Allen led an inspiring rendition of "God Bless America."
Bob Essensa will be the starting goaltender tonight, and Mika Noronen will start when the the Sabres and Blue Jackets play Tuesday in Columbus.

The lines for tonight's game: Denis Hamel centering Taylor Pyatt and Norm Milley; Tim Connolly between Stu Barnes and Miroslav Satan; Chris Gratton between Kozlov and Vaclav Varada; and Chris Taylor between Darren Van Oene and Rob Ray.

The defensive pairings will be Jason Woolley and Richard Smehlik; Alexei Zhitnik and Rory Fitzpatrick; and Brian Campbell and Dimitri Kalinin.
The Sabres trimmed their roster Friday, assigning 14 players to the Rochester Americans' training camp. There were no surprises.

Sent down were forwards Milan Bartovic, Alan Fyfe, Ales Kotalik, Jaroslav Kristek, Karel Mosovsky and Andrew Peters, defensemen Doug Houda, Mike Hurlbut, Doug Janik, Mario Larocque, Luc Theoret and Brad Williamson and goaltenders Tom Askey (of Tonawanda) and Reg Bourcier.
e-mail: tgraham@buffnews.com

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