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Briere remains frustrated by abdominal injury

There are two Buffalo Sabres out with abdominal injuries. Both skated Wednesday. One was smiling. One was dejected.

The happy one -- J.P. Dumont -- has already had surgery. The frustrated one -- Daniel Briere -- could find out today that he'll be next.

Briere traveled with the team to Toronto on Wednesday night, and today he'll go to Montreal to meet again with Dr. David Mulder, the Canadiens' head physician and medical director of the McGill Sports Medicine Centre. Briere and Dumont met with him earlier this month, when Mulder recommended sports hernia surgery for Dumont and rest for Briere.

Rest and an anti-inflammatory injection haven't helped, so Briere is going back for a re-evaluation that may include a recommendation for surgery.

"It's a possibility," Briere said Wednesday at the Amherst Pepsi Center. "That's why we're going to see Dr. Mulder tomorrow. Maybe he'll be able to help us out with exactly what the problem is.

"The frustrating part is just not knowing what's going on, not knowing what exactly it is and why it's not getting any better."

Briere will miss his sixth straight game tonight against the Maple Leafs. He hasn't played since Dec. 16 against Pittsburgh and has missed 13 of the past 16 games.

"It's just the same. It's just not going away. It's not improving," Briere said. "It hasn't been worse than it was since the Pittsburgh game, but it's not getting better, either, so that's the frustrating side."

Dumont enjoyed his first extended skate since having surgery Dec. 8. He took the ice in a sweat suit after his teammates had finished practicing and skated circles and took slap shots. He still isn't scheduled to return until after February's Olympic break.

"It feels too good," he said. "I want to try to do too much."

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Mika Noronen knows he's not going to be dressing for a game anytime soon, but it was obvious at practice the third goaltender is still trying to have a little fun.

Players had short sprints at the end of the session, and Noronen dived across the blue line to win the goalie race. He thrust his arms toward the sky while lying on his back, prompting fellow goalies Martin Biron and Ryan Miller to tackle and pounce on him when he got to his skates.

"It hasn't been easy," coach Lindy Ruff said, "but I think that he's trying to get the work done and trying to stay sharp, trying to allow whoever's starting to get the majority of the ice time, and then he'll get his ice time either before or after."

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The Sabres entered Wednesday's games with the third-ranked power play at 22 percent. Ruff said one reason for the success is the team's depth.

"The fact that we have two power-play units that we use hand-in-hand, we don't mind throwing either one out first or second, and it has made it a little bit easier to get through some of those (penalty-filled) games," he said.

* * *

Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin will miss his eighth straight game with a broken right pinkie. . . . The Sabres will hold a team autograph session 30 minutes following Sunday's 5 p.m. game against the Florida Panthers in HSBC Arena. There will be a limit of one autograph per player during the nearly one-hour session. Players will be seated at tables throughout the 100, 200 and 300 levels.

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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