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Live from the Ralph: The Ice Bowl cometh

Refresh this post often and we'll provide you with live updates on the Sabres-Penguins game through the snow of Ralph Wilson Stadium.

---Mike Harrington

Overtime

2:48 left: Great power play by the Sabres, better goaltending by Ty Conklin. Several key saves keeps the game tied. Buffalo had five shots. Another hard whistle coming in 18 seconds.

2:30 left: The puck was in a harmless position again at the second unnatural whistle of the game. "Period Six" cracked one press box veteran.

59.4 to go: The Sabres have a 7-0 edge in shots and Jaro Spacek's point-blank chance from the slot was wide. Closing in on the most-attended shootout in NHL history.

On to the shootout: We'll be making a quick break to the dressing rooms when this one is over but be sure to look for a new post where you can have your say.

Third Period

Before we get started, the stat crew here has adjusted the shot total and taken away the Penguins' two shots on goal originally credited for the second period. So that means Buffalo had a 14-0 edge in the period and the Pens have gone 26:17 without a shot. It's the first time Pittsburgh has ever gone shotless in a road game (it happened to the Pens in Mellon Arena against San Jose on Nov. 23, 2003).

It's the first time the Sabres have held an opponent without a shot in a period since they blanked the Kansas City Scouts (remember them?) on March 21, 1976 in the Aud.

Also means the Sabres have to be kicking themselves that this one is only tied. UPDATE: The stat crew gave the Penguins their two shots back. Hey guys, make up your minds!

Crosby_1st_312:42 left: Not many whistles again as it's still 1-1. Mike Ryan had the best chance for the Sabres but was denied by Conklin. Miller stopped Crosby's backhander at the end of the last shift. Pittsburgh had a 5-1 edge in shots to this point. Remember: We're 2:42 away from a hard whistle at the 10-minute mark.

10:00 left: The hard whistle and end-switch turned out to be meaningless. The puck was in the neutral zone and went harmlessly into the Pittsburgh end as the horn sounded. The zambonis are out and we're gearing up for the last 10 minutes.

7:24 left: A new hole has cropped up in the faceoff circle at the tunnel end. Wonder how much worse the ice is going to get as the snow continues. This looks more serious. The dry ice tank is creating more smoke as they patch the hole.

As for the game, this one has belied the name of being a "classic". The fans are having a good time though. They just spent this time out with Sweet Caroline and Cotton Eyed Joe and it appears almost no one has left.

2:41 left: The Sabres have just been called for icing and called timeout to get the troops some rest against Sidney Crosby's line. The Penguins have had the better of the play with a 12-3 edge in shots in this period. Miller just stopped Crosby from in tight. And the snow is coming down hard.

End of the period: Conklin robbed Toni Lydman with 6.4 seconds left so we're going to overtime -- BUT the Sabres will do it on the power play. Just as the buzzer went off, Colby Armstrong was whistled for hooking, pulling down Jason Pominville in front. Cheap call but the Sabres will take it. Buffalo has a 30-25 edge in shots through regulation.

Second period

Sab_goal18:35: Tim Connolly, Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille just put on a sensational shift. It ended with Connolly feeding Brian Campbell for a wrist shot from the circle over Conklin's shoulder to tie the game at 1-1 (left). Only took the Sabres 81:25 to beat Conklin. Interesting move by Lindy Ruff to switch centers, putting Connolly with Kotalik and Paille and Paul Gaustad with Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville. Gaustad followed the goal with a good shift of his own, featuring three solid hits.

13:17 left: Just got the word that there's 11,500 folks in HSBC Arena watching on the HD board. Amazing. Just noticed here that everyone in the lower level is standing for the entire game, giving things a very collegiate feel. But it's probably because the fans in the obstructed views (rows 1-7) are standing to see something, leaving the folks in the better spots above them no choice. Still looks pretty cool though even if some folks are probably bent out of shape about it.

9:09 left: The snow and sleet is falling again and the zambonis are back out. Wonder what Lindy Ruff said between periods? The Sabres have an 11-0 advantage in shots on goal thus far in this period and it's 20-11 overall.

End of the period: Not many whistles in the last half of that period. One reason is that it's basically impossible to ice the puck with all the snow around. The score remains tied at 1-1 and the Sabres had a 15-2 edge in shots on goal. That gives Buffalo a 23-13 bulge through two. The Penguins didn't put one on Miller until Tyler Kennedy was stopped with 1:54 left -- and even that play appeared as if Miller didn't touch the puck.

Pittsburgh went the final 6:17 of the first period with no shots, meaning Miller saw no pucks for nearly 24 1/2 minutes.

The attendance has been announced at 71,217.

First period

The teams take the ice at 1:15 p.m. as fire and smoke escort them out of the tunnel. Quite a sight. Nolan Pratt and Drew Stafford are the Sabres' scratches while Gary Roberts, who broke his leg in Saturday's collision with Tim Connolly is out for the Penguins. The temperature has been announced at 33 degrees.

It was a Super Bowl-style show showcasing the Doug Allen on the Canadian anthem and Ronan Tynan on God Bless America. A Blackhawk helicopter flyover, fireworks. Flags at each end zone. There's your Kodak moment before we even start play -- and the snow is letting up.

19:39: The Penguins score after 21 seconds as Sidney Crosby gets around Brian Campbell and Colby Armstrong pounds home a loose puck. So much for momentum from the crowd.

17:53: Adam Mair says welcome home to Brooks Orpik, dumping the Pens' defenseman and East Amherst native in the corner with the game's first crunching check.

13:30: The Sabres kill Tim Connolly's hooking penalty as Ryan Miller makes a couple of huge saves on Evgeni Malkin. Officials seem pretty intent on moving this one along because of the snow. There hasn't been any dilly-dallying to get faceoffs going.

12:44: A hooking penalty to Maxim Afinogenov puts the Penguins on the power play again. The snow is certainly posing a challenge. Going to be tough to ice the puck with this snow on top of the surface. Nice break for the Pens on this power play though as the snow has stopped.

Lindy_jacket9:54 left: The Penguins still lead, 1-0, at the halfway mark of the period and have an 8-5 edge in shots. Quite a snow cover on the ice so they're bringing out the zambonis for a quick sweep. Hope the TV cameras swoop in on the Sabres' bench. Lindy Ruff and his assistants have neat varsity style leather Sabres jackets on (right). Look even better than those old blue Sabrejaks from the 70s! Remember them?

7:43 left: Thomas Vanek is sent out for holding, giving the Penguins their third power play of the period. There continues to be a problem with the ice in the Buffalo end with a large chip forming. Good note by analyst Harry Neale on the radio -- that's 38 penalty minutes for Vanek. And a lot of them were probably like this one, a lazy penalty in the offensive zone.

6:58 left: Colby Armstrong goes off for interference, nullifying the power play. And the crowd gives some Bronx cheers for a call going Buffalo's way.

3:43 left: The same spot inside the Buffalo is giving the Ice guru trouble. The goalposts are giving the shooters trouble. Ryan Malone and Derek Roy clanked pipes on consecutive rushes and the Pens still lead, 1-0.

End of the Period: It's still 1-0 for the Pens and the visitors have an 11-9 edge in shots. So for those scoring at home, that's four straight scoreless periods against Ty Conklin. Unacceptable. Malkin leads the Penguins with five shots, while Afinogenov has three for Buffalo.

(Photos: Mark Mulville and Harry Scull/Buffalo News)

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Winter Classic
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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