GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hello from Jobing.com Arena, which will have more than its share of Sabres backers for tonight's game against the Coyotes. Only a few thousand are in with about 20 minutes to the puck drop, but Sabres jerseys are plentiful.
As you can imagine, the weather here is perfect. It was sunny and 75, a perfect day to sit by the pool or wander through Old Town Scottsdale. I did both. And not once did I wonder how much snow has piled up in my driveway back home.
And if anyone reading this is coming to the Phoenix area or lives here, you have to eat at The Mission in Scottsdale. My high school buddy Tom Doody and I went there for lunch, and we were floored. The food was great, but I have never -- NEVER -- received such grand service in any restaurant anywhere. And I eat out a lot in towns across North America.
Anyway, as far as hockey goes, Patrick Kaleta will be back in the lineup tonight for the Sabres after missing 24 of the past 26 games. Adam Mair will miss his second straight game with a cut on his knee. Ryan Miller is in goal, and Patrick Lalime will start Monday in Anaheim.
9:04 p.m.: More Sabres fans than Coyotes fans for sure. At least more vocal. And Phoenix's third jerseys might be the worst uniforms in the league.
9:13 p.m.: Kaleta's first shift includes him trying to hit everyone. Neck not an issue to him.
9:16 p.m.: Kaleta tests it even more with a spirited fight against Phoenix's Daniel Carcillo, who has 132 penalty minutes.
9:20 p.m.: First commercial break, first look at Ice Girls.
9:24 p.m.: We have 10:09 left, and the shots are 9-1 in Coyotes favor. Make that 10-1 with 9:58 to go. No surprise.
9:30 p.m.: Sabres get their first power play with 7:18 to go and shots at 11-1.
9:32 p.m.: Miller makes early entry for save of game with two stop on Joakim Lindstrom on short-handed two-on-one with Shane Doan after Ales Kotalik misplays puck and falls at blue line.
9:39 p.m.: Strange moment as Nathan Paetsch is about to fight and the linesmen jump in and tackle him just as punches are about to be thrown.
9:42 p.m.: Getting chippy as Drew Stafford puts David Hale down, and Hale responds by throwing Thomas Vanek into the net. No penalties.
9:44 p.m.: Possibly the most physical period of the season ends with 0-0 tie and 15-6 shot edge by Coyotes.
10:02 p.m.: Game on. The first period featured 23 hits and 42 penalty minutes.
10:08 p.m.: Red-hot Tim Connolly makes it 1-0 with 15:39 left. It's his ninth goal of the year and seventh in six games. He pokes home loose puck as Vanek and Stafford jam at puck in crease.
10:11 p.m.: This place is pretty empty. Wonder how empty it would be without all the Sabres fans. It's certainly not the marquee sporting event in town, with the Cardinals in the Super Bowl on Sunday (when I'll be in Vegas!) and the PGA partying in Scottsdale.
10:15 p.m.: Derek Roy abuses and fights off Ken Klee and sets up Daniel Paille to make it 2-0 wtih 11:16 left.
10:17 p.m.: Sabres need to get Paetsch out of box (he got double-minor and 10-minute misconduct in first) because they have just four defensemen. Jaroslav Spacek is nowhere to be found. He went to dressing room midway through first but came back. Not now.
10:22 p.m.: Spacek has a lower-body injury and will not return.
10:26 p.m.: Paetsch and Carcillo finish what refs wouldn't let them start. Ill-advised with the D-corps hurting.
10:31 p.m.: Sorry, Paetsch fought Steve Goertzen.
10:35 p.m.: Impressive effort by Craig Rivet, Toni Lydman, Chris Butler and Marc-Andre Gragnani as they go for shift after shift and keep the Coyotes off the board. It's 2-0 after two and the shots are now just 18-16 for Phoenix.
10:53 p.m.: Just been given word from Sabres PR man Chris Bandura that Jochen Hecht has an upper-body injury and also won't return. I believe Spacek was hit early in the first period when he leveled Enver Lisin at the blue line.
11:08 p.m.: There's 11:53 left and it's still 2-0.
11:23 p.m.: We've got 3:21 left and Rivet goes to box for delay of game with Sabres still holding 2-0 lead. Miller and the defense have stood strong.
11:26 p.m.: Shane Doan, who's played with an edge all night, goes over it with a trip with 2:30 left.