The Sabres are still without a victory and Dominik Hasek is without a starting job--at least for now. Buffalo sent its struggling goaltender to the bench after one period in a loss to the Predators and have decided to leave him there a while.

Third-string goalie Martin Biron will start against Carolina tonight as the desperate Sabres try to stave off the worst start in team history. How long Hasek remains idle depends on 22-year-old Biron.

"If Marty plays unbelievable and wins games, he's going to play," Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff said. "That turns up the competition level, too. The team needs that fire right now."

Hasek admitted he was lacking intensity after he allowed two goals in the first period, including one at 46 seconds, in a 4-3 loss to the Predators on Wednesday night. Backup Dwayne Roloson gave up two more goals in the second.

* KHRISTICH TO LEAFS: After signing former Boston F Dmitri Khristich to a $10 million, four-year deal, the Maple Leafs released popular Steve Sullivan.

Khristich, 30, lands with his fourth NHL club after a well-publicized contract battle with the Bruins, for whom he scored 29 goals last season. Boston GM Harry Sinden refused to pay the $2.8 million Khristich was awarded by an arbitrator in August, making him a free agent.

The Bruins retained matching rights if any club signed him for 80 percent or less of the $2.8 million. The Leafs sent Boston a second-round draft pick in 2000 for his rights.

Khristich will get $850,000 this season, $2.5 million for each of the second and third years, and $2.75 million for a fourth year, at the club's option. He'll also receive signing bonuses of $750,000 and $700,000 to be paid over the next two years, plus $300,000 if a fourth year kicks in.