Greetings from HSBC Arena, which has all kinds of red and white Chicago Blackhawks jerseys in the crowd for the Patrick Kane/Brian Campbell show. Gotta love that legendary Hawks red sweater and their black '09 Winter Classic duds. Too bad the NHL is still stuck in the white-on-road scheme because that's what the Hawks are wearing tonight; Sabres are in their throwback blues.
We await the fans' reaction to Campbell and Kane. It was a busy, busy day at the morning skate with lots of media around. If you haven't done so already, this would be a good time for you to review today's earlier posts for lots of info and audio from Kane and Campbell.
Especially with Patrick Lalime in net, this figures to be a huge test for the Sabres. The Hawks' 41 points through 29 games (19-7-3) is their best mark in 27 years; the 1982-83 team began 18-5-6 for 42 points. Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet is 7-5-3, 2.52 with 1 SO in 16 games against Buffalo -- most against any opponent.
Something will give tonight as the Blackhawks are 5-0-1 against the East while the Sabres are 5-0-0 against the West. Should be an interesting night. Keep it here for all your live updates, crowd reactions, etc.
7:28 update: Kane and Campbell are both announced in the starting lineup with only a small reaction for either. A few boos, a few cheers. Let's see what happens when everyone is in their seats watching the puck. Campbell is on defense with Niklas Hjalmarsson while Kane is on right wing with Troy Brower and Patrick Sharp.
7:35 update: The Sabres held a moment of silence for Mike Grier's mother, who has passed away. We have no further information at this time. He was scheduled to return tomorrow in New York. We'll see if that holds.
19:30 left: The Hawks get the quick goal they need. Kane sets it up, feeding Patrick Sharp for a tap-in to make it 2-1.
16:41 left: Kane is flying in this period. Lalime just robbed him with a glove save on a wrist shot headed for the top corner.
16:24 left: More bad news. Roy off for hooking. More chances for Kane coming.
13:00 left: Sabres can't expect to hold on the entire period. Shots are 8-0 for the Hawks. Kane and Kennedy met for the first time with Kennedy issuing a bump in the corner and Kane nearly wriggling free of him in front of the net for a loose puck a few seconds later.
11:13 left: Sabres get first shot of the period, a slapshot from center ice by Vanek that Huet gloves.
9:29 left: Sabres in full hold-on mode with Hawks holding a 9-2 edge in shots and a huge edge in territorial play.
8:28 left: Kennedy goes to the net on the end of a 3-on-1 and draws a high-sticking penalty of Byufglien.
1:57 left: Sabres still holding on. Lalime survives a scramble in front after Toews pulls down Myers (no call). Shots are 13-4 for Chicago in this period. No way to complain about Lalime on this night. He's stopped 36 of 37.
1:39 left: Huet out. Faceoff to Lalime's right.
1:33 left: Sabres get it out and Kennedy would have had a break on the open net, drawing a hooking penalty on Duncan Keith. Huge play by tonight's "other" South Buffalo guy.
16.5 seconds left: Time out by Buffalo with the faceoff at center ice after the Hawks shot it into the net in the corner to Lalime's right.
It's over: Sabres hold on for huge 2-1 win. Shots were 16-5 for Hawks in third, 40-33 for the game. Lalime's first win since March 12. I don't even need to hear the stars announced. Lalime is No. 1.
From the first: Gerbe, Roy and Pominville had three shots apiece for Buffalo. Kane and Toews likewise for the Hawks. Sabres again getting beat up on faceoffs, 10-5.
17:45 left: More good early pressure from Gerbe and Roy but Huet is up to the test. Patrick Sharp draws a holding penalty for tackling Montador so Buffalo goes back to the power play.
16:18 left: Vanek pots a Connolly rebound for a power-play goal to put the Sabres up 1-0. Looked like Buffalo got a huge break a few seconds earlier as the puck entered the zone offside (Pominville went in ahead of Myers) but the linesmen blew the call. Vanek's team-high ninth of the year. MacArthur also gets the assist. Shots are 7-0 for the Sabres in this period -- and 16-3 in the last 14 minutes.
14:30 left: Huet stops Pominville on a breakaway set up by more offensive pressure from Tallinder, continuing to take a cue from his career goal Wednesday night.
9:20 left: Sabres to the power play again as Hawks nailed for too many men on the ice.
8:15 left: Huge save by Lalime on a breakaway against Hossa after weak play at the point by Myers.
7:17 left: Great glove save by Huet on Roy from the slot after a neat set-up by Gerbe, who continues to make things happen. Sabres have a 12-5 edge in shots in the period (23-22 overall).
3:35 left: Huet doing the job keeping the Hawks afloat in this period. Just stopped Vanek on a wraparound and then robbed Connolly with a glove slot on a drive from the slot headed to the top shelf.
1:21 left: The Sabres get the goal they richly deserved this period as MacArthur swats home a beautiful cross-ice pass from Kennedy to make it 2-0 on their 17th shot of the period.
End-2nd: Brouwer shot wide in the final 35 seconds after a beautiful Kane feed so Buffalo holds its 2-0 lead through two. Shots are 17-7 for the Sabres and 28-24 through two. That's six straight scoreless periods against Buffalo and almost seven; the last goal was 39 seconds into the second period Monday night by New Jersey.
18:24 left: Stafford goes off for hooking. Lalime has already made two big saves, on Jonathan Toews and Cam Barker. Campbell is getting booed loudly (he got his first one three seconds into the game right after the puck was dropped). Scattered boos when Kane touched the puck too. Campbell, however, isn't getting it from the fans nearly as much as Daniel Briere does.
14:58 left: Ben Eager and Patrick Kaleta go off for roughing (Kaleta turtled and didn't throw a punch). Lalime made a shoulder save on Kane and stopped Duncan Keith on a point shot. Hawks have a 6-1 lead in shots and have dominated so far.
14:28 left: Now it's 4-on-3 as Tallinder goes for tripping Marian Hossa.
13:02 left: No complaints whatsoever with Lalime so far. Sensational pad save on a Brent Seabrook one-timer. He then stopped Seabrook again and Patrick Sharp. Shots are 12-2 for the Hawks already.
12:16 left: The Sabres killed the penalties -- as the Hawks got eight shots on goal. The count is up to 14-2.
9:53 left: Huet makes his best save on a long slapper from Pominville as Tallinder got into the Hawks zone to cause trouble. Sabres should look to fire from long range as Huet looks awfully sloppy with the puck. Shots are 14-5.
5:32 left: Dustin Byguglien goes for high sticking. Let's see if the Sabres can do anything on the PP. Interesting PP combination: Pominville up front with Roy and Vanek. Myers on the point with MacArthur. Hmmm.
2:50 left: Plenty of PP pressure for the Sabres with Huet having to make big saves on Gerbe (same play as his goal Wednesday) and Stafford, who overpassed when he was alone with a good shot in the slot. Shots are 16-11 now as the Sabres have made a nice comeback.
1:46 left: Lalime stops Kane on a backhander after a nifty spin move put the South Buffalo kid around Sekera's outside.
End-1st: No score through one. Shots are 17-11 for the Hawks. Much better second 10 minutes for the Sabres. Gerbe again has a lot of jump and is one of the best Buffalo forwards.
taggedSabres game day