RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Sabres, returning to the move they did Thursday in Tampa Bay, let the opponent skate around by itself for three minutes before exiting the dressing room for pregame warm-ups. When the Sabres finally came out, they were led by Ryan Miller, meaning the goaltender will start on back-to-back days.
The Sabres will face the Hurricanes with a 2-1-1 record so far on their five-game road trip.
"We can have a real good trip by winning," coach Lindy Ruff said when the team arrived at RBC Center, which as usual has its fair share of Blue and Gold partyers in the parking lots.
The Sabres will be getting their first look at Carolina goaltender Justin Peters. The rookie, who is 6-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .916 save percentage, has never faced Buffalo.
So I was totally looking forward to a nap on the flight from Tampa to Raleigh, and I got stuck with the two worst seatmates in the history of air travel. The women chatted nonstop at the decibel level of a jackhammer. And when I say nonstop, it's not an exaggeration. They didn't shut up for one second. Talk about self-absorbed, too. I was going to pull out a pen and paper and count how many times the one chick said "I," "me" or "my" but A) I was too lazy, and B) the ink totally would have run out within minutes.
So when they got out prior to me leaving my window seat and I noticed one of them had left a sweater behind, I just let her get off the plane and left it there. Make me a jerk? Maybe. A harbinger of bad karma? Most likely. Don't really care right now.
Now it's time for Furry flashbacks. It's apparently the birthday of Stormy, the Canes' mascot, and they are introducing about 30 mascots in town for the celebration. No Youppi! though, unfortunately. The Baltimore Orioles bird is probably the big attendee.
5:08 p.m.: The Sabres are 3-0 on Sundays. Game on.
5:11 p.m.: Good energy in the opening three minutes by two teams that played in Pittsburgh and South Florida on Saturday.
5:14 p.m.: In honor of March Madness, they had former N.C. State star Chris Corchiani wind the storm warning horn prior to the game. Teams head to the first commercial with 13:37 left with Sabres holding a 2-1 shot edge.
5:17 p.m.: Speaking of the first commercial, here you go.
5:18 p.m.: Miller makes game's first big save when a shot caroms to the slot of the back boards, forcing the goalie to sprawl and stone Zach Boychuk with 13:28 to go.
5:20 p.m.: Adam Mair starts a shoving match when he whacks Peters three times in the crease with 12:17 left.
5:24 p.m.: Eric Staal was one of the players hitting Mair, and he and Craig Rivet just whacked each other, starting another scrum. Rivet goes for slashing, and Chris Butler and Tuomo Ruutu go to the box for roughing with 11:00 left.
5:27 p.m.: This is one of the most physical games of the season so far.
5:28 p.m.: Sabres will get their first power play with 7:30 remaining after Joni Pitkanen hits Derek Roy from behind. No score, but 10 official hits so far, no including the slashing penalty and various stick whacks.
5:32 p.m.: Sabres' power play strikes to take 1-0 lead with 6:13 to go. Peters loses his stick on run-in with Thomas Vanek and grabs one from defenseman. Meanwhile, puck goes to Roy at the point for a slap shot. Peters makes stop, but Tim Connolly was at side of net for rebound.
5:35 p.m.: Ruff said earlier this year Tim Kennedy is no good to the team unless he's on the top two lines. Well, he's on the line with Roy and Vanek, and he's good to the team since getting there.
5:41 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead and 9-6 shot edge.
6:02 p.m.: As mentioned Saturday, Jochen Hecht usually scores ugly, bad-angle goals. Not this one. The left winger has a sweet rush from center ice and makes the score 2-0 with 18:11 to go in the period.
6:06 p.m.: Jochen is motoring, scoring again to make it 3-0. The left winger drove around the net on a power-play and stuffed it into the opposite side with 15:30 remaining.
6:11 p.m.: The Sabres have held the Canes to one shot this period with 13:49 left. Buffalo has four, with two goals.
6:12 p.m.: Here's the Hurricanes' chance, with Vanek going for tripping with 13:36 left.
6:14 p.m.: Another determined PK by the Sabres.
6:15 p.m.: Two days, two opposing goalies yanked as Toni Lydman makes it 4-0 with 11:15 left. Lydman breaks out of Carolina zone as PK expires and uses Vanek as a decoy on a two-on-one. Lydman rips one stick side, forcing coach Paul Maurice to tap Manny Legace.
6:18 p.m.: Canes respond. Sergei Samsonov tips a point shot just 12 seconds after Lydman's goal, making it 4-1 with 11:03 to go.
6:20 p.m.: Told ya Kennedy looked good. He builds lead to 5-1 with 8:49 left. Roy goes cross ice to Vanek, who one-touches puck up to Kennedy. He goes backhand with puck trickling under Legace.
6:25 p.m.: Sabres whistled for too many men on the ice with 6:33 to go.
6:32 p.m.: This is a pretty impressive three-game output, with 14 goals so far. It's still 5-1 with 2:22 to go.
6:37 p.m.: The second-period explosion ends with Buffalo holding a 5-1 lead and an 18-17 shot advantage.
7:01 p.m.: The Hurricanes score 2:07 into the period to cut the Sabres' lead to 5-2, but considering Buffalo is 24-0-0 when leading after two, I wouldn't think they'll cough up a four-goal cushion.
7:03 p.m.: It's amazing how many Frontier High alums and Southtowns folks I ran into in the 300 level during intermission, including my friend Tracey who took a bus from Charlotte.
7:10 p.m.: "USA, USA" chant for Miller with 9:36 to go. It's still 5-2.
7:15 p.m.: Drew Stafford returns after limping to bench after blocking a shot. Sabres in defensive shell with just two shots this period, with 7:58 to go.
7:18 p.m.: Chad LaRose sends Patrick Kaleta airborne with a trip with 6:03 to go.
7:20 p.m.: Busiest player during the Sabres' power play was Miller, who stymies several Carolina short-handed chances.
7:22 p.m.: These teams don't like each other, and really haven't since the big playoff series in 2006. Mair gets tossed with 3:28 to go for hitting LaRose after whistle. Players on ice spend half the commercial break mingling and pushing.
7:23 p.m.: I think it's safe to assume the Sabres will win their third straight, go 3-1-1 on the road trip and head home with a nine-point lead over Ottawa and Montreal in the division.
7:25 p.m.: Of course, as soon as I write that Staal scores on the power play with 3:00 to go. It's 5-3.
7:26 p.m.: Carolina calls timeout with 2:21 to go. Place is going bonkers with scoreboard shots of "Cheer if you think Carolina barbecue is better than Buffalo wings" and the 2006 Stanley Cup banner.
7:28 p.m.: Icing by the Sabres with 44.6 seconds to go, and that leads to a Buffalo timeout.
7:32 p.m.: Sabres survive to win 5-3.