Greeting from HSBC Arena! Seems like a long time since we've been able to say that. And it has been, since the marathon shootout loss Jan. 9 to Colorado. Tonight, the reeling Devils (2-5 in their last seven) take on the reeling and travel-bedraggled Sabres (0-3-1 in their last four).
It's a matchup of Olympic goalies as Ryan Miller takes on Martin Brodeur. They could meet in preliminary play in Vancouver when Team USA meets Canada on Feb. 21 in the final game of the preliminary round.
Miller, in fact, is ramping up his Olympic preparation. He broke out his Olympic mask in practice today after getting it painted from his usual source in Michigan, as you can read in this story. I broke out the Port Huron (Mich.) Herald photo of the mask above left. Check out the Olympic rings on the bottom. Pretty cool.
The Sabres also broke out a new media policy today, announcing that Miller will no longer do any Olympic-related interviews on game day. Makes sense. Miller has been getting inundated with requests, especially on the road. Both before and after games. I saw what he dealt with in Atlanta and especially Long Island. Got to believe it was worse as he went West and especially in Vancouver.
Anyway, here's some more good pregame reading material: Fanhouse.com comes in with a solid story on Tyler Myers. The author, Susan Slusser, is the Oakland Athletics beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and one of the most respected beat writers, male or female, on the MLB scene. Not much new ground for Buffalo-area readers but good to see more national perspective on Myers as a Calder Trophy candidate.
7 P.M BULLETIN: Big news in the lineup. The Sabres have scratched Steve Montador and Toni Lydman, as well as Clarke MacArthur. Lindy Ruff said this morning one unnamed Sabre was banged up and that has to be MacArthur, whose 13 goals are two off the team lead. But Montador and Lydman are clearly paying for poor play in San Jose and Vancouver. Andrej Sekera and Nathan Paetsch are thus in, Sekera for the first time since Dec. 27, Paetsch since Dec. 29.
It's Montador's first miss of the season. Lydman has sat out 14 games with injuries. But as a healthy scratch? Have to figure that one out.
OT: Shots were 5-4 for the Devils but Buffalo had much better chances, including a tip by Connolly in the final 30 seconds that Brodeur stopped. His point streak thus ends. Final shots were 40-31 for New Jersey.
Shootout: Nice bounceback for Miller and the Sabres, who win it 2-0. Hecht -- who is 3 for 3 this season -- and Pominville score while Miller stops Parise and Langenbrunner. Winless streak over.
15:19 left: Sabres get the period's first two shots but Connolly's chance to extend his streak goes down by his own indecision. He had a 2-on-1 with Pominville, didn't shoot and passed too late. I would have preferred he fire away.
13:52 left: Boo to the in-house crew. The nightly collision of the game can't be Kaleta's hit on Oduya that saw the Devils defenseman release the puck to Rolston for the New Jersey goal. That fact edited out. Good hit. Should be disqualified. Boo.
12:03 left: Langenbrunner goes for goaltender interference with a cheap elbow to Miller's head. Should be some retribution for that at some point. Odd they'll be teammates in a couple weeks too.
9:30 left: Brutal power play. No shots. Lots of boos. AP's Mike Haim points out both teams outshot, 1-0, on their lone power plays tonight. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo in the third.
7:15 left: Mair takes a shot off the leg and heads directly to the dressing room. Bummer. Just when the guy gets hot.
5:39 left: Mair trying to skate it off during the TV timeout. Shots are 5-4 for the Devils (33-23 in the game). Close-to-the-vest period.
On to OT: Shots were 8-7 for Buffalo in the third and 35-27 for the Devils in regulation. Some good pressure by the Connolly line in the final minute but no goal.
14:13 left: Great save by Miller on Langenbrunner on a 2-on-1 after a great pass by Parise with Myers caught up ice. Connolly followed up and helped get the loose puck out of an open crease. Guy is doing it all at this point of the season.
11:01 left: Great shift by Ellis, Kennedy and Grier. Lots of energy and solid forechecking in the Devils' zone. They did, however, overstay their welcome and needed Miller to bail them out in the Buffalo zone to get a faceoff.
8:28 left: This game has been advertised. Classic Devils game. Tight-tight-tight. Shots are 8-4 for the visitors in this period. Miller strong.
5:09 left: The Devils tie it at 1-1 on Brian Rolston's wicked slapshot that beats Miller clean on the stick side. Great long pass by Johnny Oduya, who absorbed a hit from Patrick Kaleta but got puck up ice. Butler burned by the pass. Yet another guy getting behind the defense, like we saw in Vancouver. Butler might be next to see the press box.
End-2nd: It's 1-1 through two and shots were 13-10 for the Devils (28-19 through two). So our leading after two periods stat -- Devils 23-0-0, Sabres 19-0-0 -- is meaningless tonight. Tied after two, Buffalo is 6-0-5 while the Devils are 8-2-1.
15:00 left: Butler went off for delay of game at 2:45 but the Devils' power play -- which entered the game just 1 for their last 25 on the power play -- did nothing and got no shots. That makes the Sabres 38 of 40 on the penalty kill. The lines have looked like this: Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, Ellis-Kennedy-Grier, Vanek-Roy-Mair and Stafford-Gaustad-Kaleta. Defense pairs were Myers-Tallinder, Paetsch-Sekera and Rivet-Butler.
13:55 left: Huge goalmouth save by Broduer on Pominville on a beautiful backhand pass from Connolly, who nearly extended his scoring streak to 17 games early in the night. Sabres have a 4-1 edge in shots.
12:13 left: Miller makes his best stop, using his left arm to deny Zach Parise on a 2-on-1 break. Parise has 23 goals this season; Brian Rolston is second on the Devils with 15.
10:27 left: Miller stops Jamie Langenbrunner on a 2-on-1. Too much like the Sedins situation in Vancouver. Have to stop giving the key players great chances. The Devils have only one line that scores. Sabres have to control Langenbrunner-Zajac-Parise. (UPDATE: Somebody help me in the comments. I thought it was Langenbrunner. TV said Nick Palmieri. Play by play says Dean McAmmond, who I don't think was even on the ice. Didn't see a replay. Anyone care to set the record straight?)
10:00 left: Should have reminded you of this one. If you missed today's Morning Skate Report (and, for the record, make it a part of every gameday!), you'd know Steve Kouleas of the SCORE network in Toronto is doing the play-by-play tonight. Rick Jeanneret will be back from vacation for Friday's game against Boston.
5:46 left: Adam Mair puts the Sabres into a 1-0 lead as he's hit by Derek Roy's slapshot and the puck deflects past Brodeur. Mair's second in two games after he had gone goalless all season (cheap plug: read tomorrow's notebook). Play was made by Sekera's spin away from a Devil at the blueline and a pass to Paetsch, who found Roy in the slot.
3:00 left: Sabres have shown decent jump given their travel schedule. Miller has put together another solid period as the Devils have a 12-7 edge in shots.
1:25 left: Two more solid saves by Miller, a gloved beauty on Andy Greene and a strong one off Bryce Salvador. Devils push the shot count to 15-7.
End-1st: Shots were 15-9 as Sabres keep their 1-0 lead. But they scored first in San Jose and Vancouver too. Let's see if they hold on here.
taggedOlympics | Sabres game day