TORONTO -- Happy 2009 from the Air Canada Centre as the Sabres meet the Leafs for the second time this season. It will be Ryan Miller in goal against Curtis Joseph. Is this team going to put out a better effort from the gate than Tuesday night's no-show against Washington? Should be interesting. All that postgame talk about "accountability" would ring pretty hollow if that's not what happens.
Scratches are Nathan Gerbe, Nathan Paetsch and Andrew Peters. Adam Mair (knee) IS in the lineup. So what do we make of Lindy Ruff's postgame threats Tuesday about taking away ice time? Looks pretty much like the same lineup to me. Hmmm.
We just had a celebrity guest appearance in the press box by UB Athletics Director Warde Manuel and athletics development director John Lambert, both in town for the International Bowl. Manuel is in a good mood anyway because of Turner Gill's crew but he was giddy about the basketball team's victory in the Rainbow Classic that featured wins over Pepperdine, Colorado and Colorado State. Quite a run by the folks in Amherst these days. Here's my UB pipe dream: They buy the Pepsi Center and start men's and women's hockey.
14:02 left: It's 4-0 as Roy gets his second on a backhand. Let's just say Joseph isn't distinguishing himself in this one.
11:31 left: John Mitchell breaks Miller's shutout bid, sweeping home a loose puck from in front.
2:00 left: Sabres are in cruise control still holding their three-goal lead. Be sure to vote in the three-star poll that should be up shortly after the final horn.
It's over: A 4-1 win gets Buffalo even (2-2-2) over the last six. Let's see what this group does Saturday in Boston.
17:00 left: Here's some good news -- Paille is back. That looked like one broken ankle so that's a pleasant surprise.
13:59 left: Jeez, this is a snoozer. Sabres headed to the power play as Afinogenov draws a hooking penalty on Ian White.
13:10 left: The Sabres take a 1-0 lead as Pominville's laser from the right point eludes Joseph. His 11th. Nice work screening in front by Vanek.
10:49 left: Now it's 2-0 as Roy bats a Vanek rebound out of the air past Joseph. Great play by Vanek coming from behind the net and whirling on his backhand to make the first shot. Neat replay: The puck was in Joseph's open glove and Roy actually whacked it out.
8:31 left: Pominville makes it 3-0 by knocking Nik Antropov off the puck in the corner, coming out in front and banking one in off Joseph with a quick snap shot to the goalie's right. Joseph has to make that save. It's Pominville's first multi-goal game of the season and his first since March 19, 2008 against Tampa Bay.
End of the 2nd: It's 3-0 after two and shots are 17-15 for the Leafs (8-8 in the 2nd). Just remembered, by the way, that Miller is 8 for 8 on penalty shots in his career.
13:50 left: Definitely the kind of start Ruff expected. The Sabres have dominated play, getting the first five shots (Joseph made big saves on Mair and Maxim Afinogenov). Maybe I was too quick to rip on Ruff. Hecht hasn't played yet and Mair seems to be just fine because he skated in 55's spot. The lines took the ice in this order so far: MacArthur-Gaustad-Pominville, Ellis-Mair-Kotalik, Vanek-Roy-Stafford, Paille-Mair-Afinogenov. (Gaustad just took the next shift with Paille and Afinogenov. Hecht is simply sitting on the bench).
9:55 left: Shots are 6-2. Roy just centered the fourth line. Let's see if this is a one-period message to Hecht. Oops, there's Hecht on the left wing with Gaustad and Pominville in place of MacArthur.
8:32 left: Hecht is going to have to get a regular shift now as Paille got drilled on the right ankle by a Pavel Kubina shot and was taken off the ice. It came during a Leafs power play and Toronto had two good chances while Paille was hobbling in the faceoff circle.
4:39 left: The Sabres had a power play when West Seneca's Lee Stempniak went off for interference but the Leafs dominated all 35 seconds and Jaro Spacek finally took a hooking penalty trying to get the puck back. Pathetic.
1:00 left: Niklas Hagman gets stopped on a penalty shot against Miller, who played it aggressively while the Toronto skater approached the net tentatively. The shot was awarded because Roy swept the puck out of the crease with a glove.
End 1st: Zip-zip through one. Shots are 9-7 for the Leafs -- Buffalo had just two in the last 16:43.
taggedSabres game day