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Sabres come up short against Wild

Rookie Thomas Vanek's first game as a pro in the Twin Cities started off well enough. He assisted on two power play goals by Daniel Briere as his line got the Buffalo Sabres off to a three-goal lead against the Minnesota Wild.

Jeff Jillson also scored at even strength, but little went right for the Sabres after that as the Wild roared back for a 6-3 victory in an exhibition game.

"Thomas has played well," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. "Offensively, he has done a good job."

The Sabres (2-1) will face the Capitals in Washington tonight at 7.

J.P. Dumont also had two assists in his first action since suffering a head injury at practice last Thursday. The Briere-Vanek-Dumont line has 10 points in two games.

"We stopped taking care of our own end, and that was the deciding factor in the end," said Vanek, who played at the University of Minnesota.

Mika Noronen made 23 saves in his preseason debut for the Sabres. Minnesota got a boost in the final 40 minutes as Buffalo was whistled for 11 penalties. There were 34 penalties overall; the Wild was assessed 16 penalties. Buffalo was 2 for 11 on the power play and Minnesota 1 for 13.

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Around the rinks

* Alexei Zhitnik, a former Sabre, scored twice to lead the New York Islanders over the New York Rangers, 5-1, in the preseason opener for both teams.

* Colorado Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk underwent surgery on his right knee and will be out for at least four weeks, the team said.

* The Red Wings expect restricted free agent center Pavel Datsyuk to be in Detroit and re-sign with the club this weekend, General Manager Ken Holland said after speaking to Datsyuk on Tuesday.

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