Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres try to end this ugly four-game losing streak against the Bruins. A note on streaks: Several of you complained we've written this is their first four-game skid of the season even though they've completed their West Coast trip with one. Au contraire, sports fans. The Sabres got a shootout point in Los Angeles so the NHL considers that an 0-3-1 winless streak and not a four-game losing streak. Just like the 10-game slide the Bruins ended Sunday in Montreal was a 10-game winless streak because they were 0-6-4.
As for tonight's game, you would have thought back in the fall that Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas might be battling for No. 1 on the U.S. Olympic team tonight. Not. Thomas isn't even in net, languishing as the clear No. 2 in Boston behind Tuukka Rask. He didn't have much to say about his status here after practice Monday,as this Boston Globe story reports.
Some pregame ceremonies tonight to induct Jim Lorentz and Joe Crozier into the Sabres Hall of Fame and then we'll get to the action. Huge roar when the French Connection came on to the ice to join the ceremony.
Shootout: Sabres are 3-5 in them this year while Boston is 6-9 (15 of them? Wow). Boston has lost four straight. Sabres are 12 for 40 this year (Hecht is 3 for 3) and the goalies have allowed 14 goals on 38 shots (Miller has stopped 16 of 25). Boston shooters are 11 for 48. Rask has stopped 14 of 21.
Bruins win: Boston gets credit for a 3-2 victory. Pominville scored for Buffalo but Hecht, Connolly and Stafford were all stopped. Krejci got the winner for the Bruins. Winless streak hits five, division lead is gone as Ottawa pulls into tie with 3-2 win over Calgary.
4:35 left: Miller keeps the game alive by robbing Matt Hunwick on a 2-on-1.
3:33 left: Bruins to the power play as Michael Ryder cuts in front by Butler and Vanek has to take a hooking penalty.
On to the shootout: The Sabres survive as Miller makes a couple key saves on the power play and Connolly takes one from the point on the foot. Shots were 4-2 for Boston and it finished 45-34 for Buffalo.
14:08 left: Not much going on until Miller stoned Marco Strum twice on one shift. Shots are 4-2 for Boston.
12:35 left: Another huge save by Miller on Marc Savard keeps things tied. Sabres starting to give the puck away again in this period, much as they did in the first. Out of town, Ottawa takes 3-2 lead over Calgary after two. An Ottawa win and Buffalo loss in regulation knocks the Sabres out of first place in the Northeast Division.
8:52 left: Wideman goes for cross checking, giving Buffalo a huge chance to take the lead.
6:40 left: Four great saves by Rask -- two on Roy and one each on Myers and Vanek -- deny Buffalo on the power play and keep things even. That's another PP that goes down as another chance without a goal but that's one the Sabres want to duplicate at almost every chance. Sabres have a 40-28 edge in shots, 9-6 in this period.
5:44 left: Huge battle between Mair and Lucic won by Mair early and Lucic at the end. That's two fights tonight (would have been three if Chara answered Gaustad's challenge). About time we saw some spunk from this club. I'd say some of this goes back to Stafford saying enough was enough Saturday in Columbus with R.J. Umberger. Mair went off the ice, probably with a sore hand after cracking Lucic on the helmet.
42.1 left: A big scare as Myers goes down like a shot after deflecting Paille's slapper into his face. He skates off to the dressing room.
21.8 left: Pominville nearly steals a win from Wideman, taking the puck behind the net and getting stopped by Rask on the wraparound.
On to OT: Shots were 12-8 for the Sabres and 43-30 through regulation. That's two shy of Buffalo's season high of 45 set in the loss to Anaheim.
Of note: More ex-Sabres indignity as Miro Satan was plus-2 in that period and got one of the assists on Paille's wraparound goal. Satan had no points in his last eight games and Paille had none in his last seven. Yeesh.
18:13 left: Much better start as Hecht and Vanek have in-tight chances in the first 90 seconds that Rask stops. Better than any chance Buffalo had in the first period.
17:06 left: Rivet has apparently had enough, starting a scrap with Shawn Thornton. The captain had good intentions but the decision goes to Thornton. Milan Lucic gets a hooking penalty so Buffalo goes to the power play. Lately, that's been no help.
16:14 left: A two-man edge for 1:08 as Steve Begin goes for holding Myers. He had been driving the rookie crazy in the Buffalo zone but got a little too overzealous. Lindy Ruff calls timeout here, sensing this is a big moment.
15:25 left: Roy finally snaps the ice with a wicked snapshot top shelf over Rask's glove on a Connolly feed. And still 1:12 left in Begin's penalty. Roy's 14th.
15:19 left: MacArthur breaks in alone but Rask makes the save.
13:14 left: Bruins' first two shots are tough saves for Miller, including a rebound stop on Blake Wheeler.
10:08 left: Gaustad challenges Chara and the big guy refuses to drop the gloves. Lucic comes in and tries to take up the case but gets nothing?? Gaustad goes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ridiculous. Lucic could have gotten a game misconduct for crying out loud.
9:09 left: Chara really-really-really getting the boos from the crowd now.
3:46 left: Good pad save by Miller on David Krejci. Miller has been very sharp in this period. The Sabres have an 11-9 edge in shots and it's 28-20 for the game.
1:25 left: HUGE turn of events there as Miller stones Wheeler and Gaustad just clears the rebound away from the empt cage. He gets it to Myers, who skates away and fires a wicked wrister past Rask to tie it at 2-2 on Buffalo's 30th shot of the night. That was a vintage goal, one you'd see from an all-star in the Larry Robinson vain. Awesome. His eighth of the year and his 32nd point, tied for third among NHL rookies.
End-2nd: Much better. Shots were 14-11 for the Sabres and 31-22 for the game.
Of note: We face off at 7:21 after the HOF ceremonies and Ronan Tynan doing God Bless America.
18:29 left: Interesting start as Gaustad drills Dennis Wideman behind the net and draws plenty of attention from Zdeno Chara the rest of the shift. Bruins will have No. 28 on their minds. Sabres already guilty of two giveaways in their end. That can't continue.
15:09 left: Old friend Daniel Paille gives the Bruins a 1-0 lead on a wraparound that Miller simply didn't react to. Roy got screened by the referee to Miller's right and Paille came out untouched to the goalie's left as Butler and Rivet were caught napping. Bad start. Seven straight goals against Buffalo.
11:27 left: I thought Lindy Ruff said today he wanted to see his team attack more? Other than the Gaustad hit, pretty lame effort so far.
8:02 left: You gotta be kidding. Paille tips a Chara point shot past Miller for a 2-0 lead. His first two-goal game as a Bruin. Now I gotta look up when he last did that for Buffalo.
7:05 left: Just looked it up -- Paille's fifth career two-goal game and first since Buffalo's 7-3 loss at Pittsburgh on March 12, 2008. Eight straight for the opponents.
6:31 left: Unreal. Miller just stopped Paille cold on a clear break in the Buffalo zone. Paille, by the way, has never had a hat trick. Shots are 10-9 for the Sabres but they've hardly had a huge chance.
3:00 left: More on Paille -- he entered this one with no goals in his last seven games and just three in his last 21. Came real close to having three in an 8 1/2-minute span here.
End-1st: Sabres leave to richly deserved boos in a 2-0 hole. They have a 17-11 edge in shots but there's a classic case of a period where the SOG total explains nothing. Buffalo might have had one or two quality chances while Boston had six or seven.
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