The Sabres figure to have some new-look forward lines tonight when they meet the Tampa Bay Lightning here in HSBC Arena. Daniel Paille-Jochen Hecht-Jason Pominville will start the game and it will be interesting to see coach Lindy Ruff's other combinations. A couple to watch: Clarke MacArthur told me this morning he's going to be a "totally different player" tonight after getting benched for most of the final two periods Sunday against Pittsburgh, and I'm betting Adam Mair gets the call with Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek.
Ruff has no sense of drama at the outset by the way. The Lightning are starting Dan Boyle on defense but Ruff has Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman out there at the opening faceoff rather than Brian Campbell. So we won't see the top two UFA defensemen who could move next week on the first shift.
We'll be watching the lines for you as you get your live updates here.
4:25 left: They just changed the scoring on the second goal, giving it to Vanek on a tip after Tim Connolly's. So Vanek officially has two for the game and 24 on the season.
3:34 left: Jochen Hecht just misses high for Buffalo is going on the power play but Dan Boyle is sent off for hooking.
2:35 left: It's over as Vanek completes the hat trick on the power play after a perfect Jaroslav Spacek pass. Hats litter the ice for a 4-3 win. Wow. Final shots on goal were 46-25. Fred Flintstone? Whatever.
18:57 left: Brad Richards gives the Lightning a 2-0 lead with a knuckler that Ryan Miller would probably like to have back. Campbell and Spacek were on the ice again and get credit for another minus but Connolly lost the puck along the boards and Miller should have made the save too.
16:57 left: Finally. Derek Roy's bullet wrist shot on a 2-on-1 beats Johan Holmqvist on the short side and gets the Sabres -- and the crowd -- back in the game. Roy's career-high 22nd of the year comes on Buffalo's 32nd shot and cuts the Tampa lead to 2-1.
13:25 left: Another Buffalo power play goes by the boards, with Holmqvist robbing Paul Gaustad on the Sabres' best chance.
6:48 left: Miller saved the Sabres' bacon after a pair of Nolan Pratt giveaways but couldn't keep the fort closed forever. He fumbled a shot away, Vaclav Prospal scooped up the rebound ahead of Toni Lydman and backhanded it home for a 3-1 Tampa lead. The Sabres have 39 shots in this game and one goal. Yeesh.
2:21 left: Hold on. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is cranking because Lydman's shot from the point got tipped a couple times, including Connolly's redirection that gets credit for the goal that makes it 3-2. It's Connolly's sixth of the season and first since Dec. 14.
1:45 left: Whoa. The place has been quiet and now it's wild as Connolly feeds Vanek to tie it at 3-3. There's plenty of blue in the stands as lots of folks left when it was 3-1. Vanek's team-high 23rd.
On to OT: The Sabres have pulled out a point here. They had a 17-10 advantage in shots in the third period -- and a 44-25 bulge through regulation.
11:28 left: No change here as the Lightning still hold a 1-0 lead. Ryan MIller has made a couple of key saves in this period to keep Buffalo close. GM Darcy Regier met with reporters in the first intermission and said he continues to have discussions with Larry Kelly, the agent for Brian Campbell. Regier said "money and terms have been discussed." Regier said it's still too early to determine if the Sabres will sign Campbell, trade him or just keep him unsigned for the rest of the season. Stay tuned.
9:01 left: My eagle-eyed colleague John Vogl just directed me to a sign taped above Section 314 with a large caricature of Fred Flintstone that says "You got Vaneked" Someone help here. What the heck does that mean? Why Fred Flintstone?
4:58 left: Another power play for the Sabres as Jan Hlavac goes off for hooking. The Sabres are 0 for 3 thus far with the man advantage and have just four shots on those chances.
End 2nd: It's still 1-0 but the Sabres have a 27-15 edge in shots and I say they're not shooting enough in this game. Too many chances being passed up with Connolly and Vanek the chief culprits. Johan Holmqvist is not going to be confused with Georges Vezina. Come on.
The Lightning are so bad they can't even get the anthem right. Jason Ward dropped his helmet on the ice during Tara Minogue's anthem and you could hear the crunch all the way up here. He had to fish it back with his stick when she was done as his teammates and coach John Tortorella couldn't stop laughing at him.
15:58 left: The Sabres failed to score on an early power play and Tampa comes down to take a 1-0 lead as Brian Campbell forgot to take Chris Gratton in front and the ex-Sabre made no mistake with an easy tap-in. So much for Ruff's talk with Campbell to think defense first.
12:48 left: The lines look like this -- Roy between Vanek and Mair, Hecht between Paille and Pominville, Paul Gaustad between Patrick Kaleta and Andrew Peters, and Tim Connolly between Ales Kotalik and MacArthur. Michael Ryan is the odd man out.
2:43 left: The Sabres have an 11-5 edge in shots in what's been a pretty mundane period. Ruff keeps juggling his lines. Connolly has gone back to the wing with Roy and Vanek -- I don't think he can skate well enough with his bad hip to play center -- while Gaustad's last shift was between Kotalik and Paille.
End 1st: The period ends with Tampa still in a 1-0 lead and with 1:08 left on a hooking penalty Campbell took after he was beat in the corner by Ward.
taggedSabres game day