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Injury prolongs rough stretch for Torres

Raffi Torres' stay in Buffalo has been little more than an exercise in frustration. Torres, acquired at the trade deadline, said last week he'd been "terrible" since coming from Columbus. At least then he was able to play. The left winger doesn't appear close to doing that again.

Torres will miss his fourth straight game tonight when the Sabres host Ottawa in HSBC Arena. He has a hand/wrist injury.

"Big-time [frustration]," Torres said Thursday. "I still haven't had a chance to prove myself here, so I've still got a lot of work to do. Hopefully, it'll just keep getting better on a daily basis."

Torres participated in the pregame skate Saturday in Florida but was a last-minute scratch. It was the last time he was on the ice with his teammates, though he is skating on his own. He says he suffered the injury while taking a one-timer during a Buffalo practice and decided he'd be no use against the Panthers.

"I couldn't snap the puck," he said. "If I'm not shooting then I'm not really doing much out there. I just thought it would be better to get off.

"It actually happened just at practice on a shot I took. It just hit me the wrong way, so it's just something I have to deal with. . . . [Wednesday] I wasn't working with pucks, [Thursday] I'm working with pucks. I'm still not shooting yet, but I'm getting there."

The Sabres did get good injury news Thursday when forward Patrick Kaleta and defenseman Henrik Tallinder participated in practice. Neither finished Wednesday's 3-2 shootout victory against Montreal. Kaleta left because of a neck ailment and Tallinder departed after hitting his head on the ice.

"He was a little dizzy but [Thursday] morning felt real good. No issues," coach Lindy Ruff said of Tallinder before moving on to Kaleta. "Already after the game he was feeling better. I don't think there's going to be an issue with him, either. He just had to take a little time off."

The Senators will be without winger Alex Kovalev, who didn't make the trip because of a lower-body injury.

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The Sabres scored twice in the final two minutes of Wednesday's game to send their fans home happy. The opening 58 minutes featured an ample amount of booing, which has been commonplace at the foot of Washington Street this season.

"Fans have every right to feel whichever way they feel," defenseman Steve Montador said. "I think they've seen us play at a high level, and when we don't bring that to the game, they're going to let us know that. That's OK."

A lingering issue for the Sabres is the fans' treatment of goaltender Patrick Lalime during a 3-2 loss to Minnesota two weeks ago. He was derided and mocked after turning the puck over and putting Buffalo in an early 2-0 hole.

"My issue . . . with the fans is they singled out one player," Montador said. "I've played in basically every market this league has to offer, and our fans are as passionate as any fans in the league. I think when we played Minnesota with Patty, they could have shown some compassion because Patty's our hardest-working player every day on the ice. There's a couple tough bounces that game, and I think there could have been a little bit of compassion that could have been shown.

"Having said that, if the team's not playing the way they've seen us play and want us to play, then you can boo the whole team, you can boo the coaches and all that. I was just a little upset they had singled out one player.

"Having said all of that, I truly love our fans."

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Ruff wants his players to perform better tonight than they did Wednesday, but he also expects more out of himself. The 13th-year coach conceded to being "off" against the Canadiens.

"My frustration level was way too high, and I think that affects players," Ruff said. "Some of that is I spent a good period of time yelling at officials. That's what I mean when I'm off.

"When we came to put the lineup on for the six guys [after pulling goaltender Ryan Miller], I was trying to think of the sixth guy I wanted to put out there, and I didn't really have a guy. I'll be the first to admit it.

"I think everything turned out good, but I think when a coach's frustration creeps into a game, that frustration sometimes spills over into the players."

e-mail: jvogl@buffnews.com

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