Back for more and why not the way the Sabres are playing? After Ryan Miller stoned the Laffs with a career-high 48 saves last night -- and shredded them in hysterical fashion to the media afterward -- it's Patrick Lalime's turn to keep the Sabres' winning ways going against the Colorado Avalanche here in HSBC Arena.
The Sabres have won six straight and the Northeast Division standings are getting to the eye-popping stage. The Bruins lost again today to the Rangers, 3-1, and learned that Marc Savard is out 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. The Sabres have 60 points and make up their game in hand on Boston tonight while the Bruins have just 51. A Buffalo win tonight produces an 11-point lead in the division just past the halfway mark. That's getting into runaway territory, folks.
Want more? If the Sabres win tonight and the Devils lose in Montreal, Buffalo will overtake New Jersey for first place in the East. Crazy.
It will be interesting to see if Lalime keeps up his hot play, now that he's been off since his Dec. 29 relief win of Miller over Pittsburgh. Here's the rundown of Lalime's fabulous numbers since returning from Portland -- 3-0-1, 1.33 GAA and .960 save percentage (121 saves on 126 shots). In his career vs. Colorado, Lalime is 6-3-1, 1.87 and .926.
The Avalanche are making their first appearance in Buffalo since winning here, 3-2, on March 7, 2007. The Sabres lost to them in a shootout, 2-1, last season in Denver and have not beaten the Avs since a 6-4 win in Denver on Dec. 4, 2005. The Sabres, remember, are 7-0-0 against the Western Conference this season.
Shootout result: It was a wild 11-round affair -- the longest in Sabres history -- and Colorado won it, 4-3, on Matt Hendricks' goal, a deke that left Lalime sprawled on his back. Connolly, Vanek, Hecht scored for Buffalo and Lalime couldn't make saves after the last two goals that would have given Buffalo the win. Great point though.
3:26 left: Sabres kill the Montador penalty and Anderson stops Vanek.
1:50 left: Lalime saves the day on a Hejduk breakaway after a bad Vanek giveaway at center ice eerily reminiscent of his handoff to Ilya Kovalchuk late in OT of a crucial April game last season in Atlanta.
On to the Shootout: Butler saves the day with a great dive on a 2-on-1 to prevent a shot. Sabres had a 2-1 edge in the period and finish at 35-30 for the game.
13:25 left: Nothing going on here and I suddenly got startled by a lot of noise just to my right in Section 315. A big play going on the ice? A big fight? A brawl in the stands? Nope. Sabretooth. Trying to start the wave. Dude, very 1980s.
10:41 left: Still time for a frantic finish. Vanek taps home his own rebound for his team-high 12th of the year to make it 3-2.
9:47 left: Shots are 7-2 for Buffalo in this period and 27-25 Colorado for the game.
7:30 left: Lalime keeps the Sabres afloat with a daring, Dom-like dash to knock the puck away from Paul Stastny. He was past the faceoff dot.
6:37 left: Vanek is having a big third. He just got in alone from in tight but Anderson beat him in his bid for the equalizer.
4:12 left: Lo and behold, it's tied up. Hecht does the honors with a 50-footer that sees its way through the crowd and beats Anderson. And we can now officially welcome the crowd back.
3:15 left: Kennedy just misses off the post to Anderson's left. Colorado seems desperate to hold on to its one point as the Sabres are buzzing the zone.
2:16 left: Two more great saves by Anderson, one on Connolly. Shots are 15-4 for the Sabres.
57.8 left: Montador goes for high sticking. Ouch.
On to OT: Another game the Sabres have stolen at least one point where they don't get one last year. Shots were 15-4 and 33-29. Remember this one: Roy has OT winners twice in the last two weeks.
14:34 left: Our promise to you. Updates and quips on whatever's on our mind. Problem is I've got nothing at this point. Like this game. I've blogged three in four nights.
11:42 left: I got something. Ruff has changed the lines. The Connolly line is still intact but Gaustad is back on the fourth line with Ellis and Mair and MacArthur has moved up with Kennedy and Grier. The big news is they're rekindling an oldie but good: Vanek-Roy-Stafford.
8:43 left: Sabres get another PP chance as Hendricks goes for roughing.
7:53 left: Stafford goes for hooking. Totally ticky-tack call. Hate it. This isn't tennis.
7:25 left: Myers goes for interference. Looked worse than it was. Myers hardly touched the charging Avs forward but the call was made because he was caught pinching in the Colorado zone.
4:52 left: Crowd is back into it as Sabres kill the two-man advantage (goalpost makes the save on a Quincey shot) and Buffalo is going to the power play as John Michael-Liles goes for hooking. The penalty came as Myers came charging out of the penalty box to lead a 2-on-1 and got grabbed. Kid was possessed on that rush.
3:26 left: Nothing happening on this PP. The forwards are back in that rut Lindy Ruff complained about a few days ago -- everything is slow, slow, slow. No one moving their feet and the results show.
2:55 left: But there's the breakthrough the Sabres needed with three seconds left on the power play. Gaustad works from behind the net and feeds Stafford for the one-timer. Stafford becomes fifth Sabre with 11 goals and it's 2-1.
1:53 left: All that work gone. Pominville loses the puck at center ice, Lydman is caught in the zone to create a 2-on-1. Montador plays no one and Lalime can't stop Brandon Yip's quick snapper. 3-1. Air out of the building again.
End-2nd: Colorado holds its 3-1 lead through two. Shots were 14-11 for the Avalanche in the period and 25-18 for the game.
17:16 left: Big scrap between Montador and Cody McLeod after McLeod drilled Lydman. Meanwhile, Clarke MacArthur goes for holding. Nice job by Montador sticking up for his partner. By the way, I give it up to the dude a couple of rows in front of the press box wearing a Joe Sakic Quebec Nordiques jersey. Too bad they're not in the league anymore (moved to Denver in '96, remember) Those were some ridiculously good games back in the 80s. Ask your parents, youngins.
14:50 left: Penalty is killed, with Lalime making a nice stop off Olympian Paul Stastny, who took a rebound off the back boards.
13:47 left: Lalime robs T.J. Galiardi from right in the slot. Lalime's glove seems much more active since his return and there's another example. No change in the lineup (Sekera-Paetsch-Kaleta scratched) or in the lines. It was Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, Roy-Gaustad-Stafford, Vanek-Kennedy-Grier and MacArthur-Ellis-Mair. Defense pairs also status quo: Tallinder-Myers, Rivet-Butler, Montador-Lydman.
12:25 left: Avalanche take 1-0 lead as rookie standout Matt Duchene pick-pockets Tallinder in the Buffalo zone and pots a great give-and-go pass from Matt Hendricks. Lalime had no chance.
11:41 left: Mair off for high-sticking in the offensive zone.
9:30 left: Another good kill, with Lalime stopped Milan Hejduk and Scott Hannan. Buffalo has killed 30 of the last 31 penalties it's taken. Shots are 8-3 for the Avalanche.
6:32 left: The Sabres look like a team playing their third game in four nights and Colorado takes advantage in the Buffalo zone to go up, 2-0. Hejduk beats the defense around the net and nearly beats Lalime on a wraparound but Duchene is right there for his second of the night and 13th of the season. It also gives him 29 points and the NHL rookie scoring lead, one ahead of Islanders phenom John Tavares (Myers entered tonight fifth with 26 and the leader in rookie assists with 20).
4:34 left: Sabres get a break as Avs goalie Craig Anderson takes a delay of game penalty for slapping the puck out of the air into the net.
4:00 left: Just realized Duchene doesn't turn 19 until next Saturday night. Wow. He was the third overall pick in last June's draft.
2:44 left: Kyle Quincey goes for high-sticking Kennedy, giving Buffalo a two-man edge for 10 seconds.
End-1st: The visitors lead, 2-0, and have an 11-7 edge in shots. The building is dead. Lots of the fans have probably been here three times in four days too. Looks like we could use some Laff fans to get some life in this place.
taggedSabres game day | Winter Classic