Buffalo turns back Sharks on Stafford’s first-perod goal

SAN JOSE– A 100th consecutive sell-out at HP Pavilion did not bring with it a rousing San Jose Sharks victory Thursday night.

Instead, the Sharks fell 1-0 to the surging Buffalo Sabres and remained two points off the pace set by Pacific Division-pacingPhoenix.

The Coyotes were tripped by the visiting Calgary Flames 4-2 Thursday night. WhilePhoenixhostsColumbusSaturday, the Sharks greetSt. Louis. The Blues had an opportunity to passVancouverThursday in the showdown for first place in the Western Conference but fell to the Canucks 2-0.

Buffalobegan Thursday’s game five points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have nabbed points in seven consecutive games (5-0-2).Buffalohas three regulation losses in the past 16 games.

For the second consecutive game,San Josedid not have coach Todd McLellan behind the bench.

Coming off a shut-out of offensive-mindedPhiladelphiaon Tuesday, Shark goaltender Antti Niemi was solved for one goal in Thursday’s contest.

Limited to 19 shots on net,Buffaloturned one of its 10 shots in the first period into a 1-0 lead.

Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis jumped in front of a Brent Burns head-man pass in the neutral zone and charged up the ice on a 3-on-2 rush. Ennis dropped the puck to Drew Stafford inside the Shark blueline.Staffordwas able to get off a shot from the high slot that went between the two defenders and skipped off Niemi’s right pad and into the net at the 18:51 mark.

Ryan Miller set a franchise record Wednesday when he recorded his 25th career shut-out as the Sabres topped the Anaheim Ducks 2-0. The 43 saves were the most by a Sabres goalie in a shutout inBuffalo franchise history, passing Dominik Hasek (42 saves againstMontreal on Dec. 19, 1997). Miller turned back 39San Jose shots.

San Josefired 17 shots at Miller in the third period

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