Greetings from HSBC Arena, where those of you anticipating the wit and wisdom of Mike Harrington will have to put up with me until Mike gets done writing about Gary Bettman. The commish just held a news conference.
Well, the lights are already going dark inside the building, which means the booing is about to start. First it will be for anthem singer Doug Allen, then someone else.
And there it was for Dougie! Game on.
7:37 p.m.: 24-6-4.
7:38 p.m.: Sabres open with line of Jochen Hecht-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier. Not sure if that's just a tone-setter or if coach Lindy Ruff has split up Hecht-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville. We'll see after they cycle through the four trios.
7:40 p.m.: Patrick Kaleta just missed taking out Jarkko Ruutu, the much-reviled Sen, then dropped the gloves and threw dozens of lefts on Zack Smith, who threw his share of rights. Kaleta then exhorted the crowd on the way off just 2:57 in. He's proving someone is ready to end the drought.
7:44 p.m.: It appears the Sabres' lines will be Hecht-Gaustad-Grier, Tim Kennedy-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford-Derek Roy-Thomas Vanek (with both Stafford and Vanek playing their opposite wings, as they have been doing the past couple of games) and Adam Mair-Matt Ellis-Kaleta.
7:48 p.m.: Just seconds after Vanek drops Chris Neil with a check (yes, you read that correctly), the Senators take a 1-0 lead. Ruutu flips the puck toward Ryan Miller's glove, but Chris Kelly bats it out of the air before it gets there. Kelly then slips the puck under Miller just as the net comes off with 13:18 to go.
7:50 p.m.: The Sabres are hitting every player in white and red. It seems if you can't beat 'em, beat 'em up --- which I'm sure a good portion of fans would be OK with.
7:52 p.m.: First commercial break, which in the majority of rinks means the first appearance of Ice Girls. In Buffalo, it means the first appearance of a bunch of dudes (and two girls) in sweatsuits. Whoo hoo!
7:55 p.m.: We hit the midway point of the period with the Sabres still playing out of first-period character, which means they're hitting and showing tons of life.
7:57 p.m.: Mike Fisher drops Adam Mair with 8:13 to go. I wonder if Carrie Underwood is here.
Note from One News Plaza: The wireless in HSBC Arena has been out since 8 p.m. The Sabres trail Ottawa, 1-0, after one period. Live blogging will resume when the problem in HSBC Arena is fixed.
9:04 p.m.: Welcome back to HSBC Arena, where the Sabres -- who've long been prone to Internet problems -- have surpassed the Florida Panthers as the worst Web provider in the NHL.
9:05 p.m.: While the Internet was gone (again), the Senators built a 3-1 lead. Peter Regin scored on a top-shelf laser with 5:36 gone. Paul Gaustad answered with 9:08 left, though the Sabres'/NHL's crack scoring staff announced it as Kennedy. Then Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa with 5:57 left on the power play.
9:10 p.m.: The second period has come to an end, with Ottawa holding a 3-1 advantage. The Sabres have a 31-21 edge in shots. The physical momentum, however, has moved in the Senators' direction. They took the Sabres' early shots and are now delivering blasts back, with more force (as a number of wincing members of Blue and Gold will no doubt attest).
9:12 p.m.: I now turn the blog over to Mike Harrington, and I'm certain he might have an opinion or two on the night. So ... good night -- JV.
9:23 pm. Harrington here. A big high-five to JV for helping out while I was on Bettman watch. Fine job as usual. The arena's Internet service has become a running joke -- sort of like watching the Sabres try to play Ottawa. Hasn't been right since the arrogant Sports Illustrated freelance photographer crashed everything last Friday during the NCAA Tournament and then tried to blame his dirty work on CBS. Nice.
Anyway, the Sabres have a 31-21 edge in shots through 40 minutes and are in a two-goal hole. Taking just enough stupid penalties, getting beat on special teams and facing a red-hot goalie who's about to go 8-0 against them. A recipe for trouble. Anyone think playing Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs is a good idea? Didn't think so. Lots of rolling eyes in the locker room yesterday as we pressed the Ottawa issue. Hey fellas: Put up or deal with it.
Will be interesting to see how the NHL deals with the Fisher boarding call in the first period. Bettman is in the house and it's a day after the new rules. It looked like and Ovechkin-Campbell kind of play but Kaleta is back in the game and Campbell, of course, didn't return. That shouldn't matter. Based on the rules, it's a hit in the back and should be a suspension. We'll see.
9:28 p.m.: Vogl's eagle eyes point this out -- The Senators are playing without their top two goal scorers (Fisher and injred Milan Michalek) and their No. 4 goal scorer (injured Alex Kovalev) and still are heading to yet another win.
9:29 p.m.: The Sens hit a post and had three other glorious chances on the PP to start the period -- including one where a sprawled Myers made the save. Didn't happen for them and the Sabres stunningly pull within 3-2 as Pominville steals the puck at the Buffalo line and bursts down the ice to beat Elliott for his 22nd of the year at 1:34. Basically a 2-on-0 with Montador out of the box and Pominville had a good decoy to use before firing his shot.
9:32 p.m.: Crowd is fired up again. Think this streak against Ottawa means a little to them?
9:35 p.m.: The whistles have been put away in this one, folks. Guys are getting hooked and hauled down all over the place. Who said obstruction is gone? Bettman scoffed at that question tonight. But this period has been a joke so far, a throwback to pre-lockout days.
9:38 p.m.: Scoring at HSBC Arena by the Sabres' crew (which, in fairness, is hired by the NHL) is as bad as the Internet service here. The Gaustad-Montador situation the other night. Now the first goal tonight, clearly scored by Gaustad but given to Kennedy. Paul Hamilton of WGR has made this point several times and I can concur: There are more missed scoring calls and scoring changes at HSBC than any arena in the league. It's become laughable here. And they don't even bother to announce scoring changes anymore.because a) there's so many and b). they've got to play their silly blooper films rather than give people game information
9:40 p.m.: Miller robs Alfredsson on a breakaway. The Ottawa captain has been flying tonight. As he often does in this building, where he has 22 career goals.
9:41 p.m.: Unreal. Vanek has a breakaway from his own blueline in, fires a wicked slapshot pass Elliott -- and right off the post. It was an absolute bullet. Gotta wonder if that goes in against another opponent.
9:42 p.m.: There's 8:57 left in the game. Shots are 34-29 for Buffalo.
9:48 pm.: Elliott stops Roy and makes a point-blank stop on the rebound from Stafford. 6:01 left. Shots 37-30.
9:53 p.m.: Elliott stops Montador's riser from the point after nice work down low by Roy-Stafford. 4:14 to go.
9:55 p.m.: Lydman stopped on Buffalo's 40th shot with 3:13 left.
9:56 p.m: WOW. Here's the chance. Too many men on the ice on the Senators with 2:56 left.
9:57: One minute gone on PP, Miller out with 1:56 left.
9:59: Great saves on Pominville and Lydman on the 6-on-4. Then Pominville shanks one and it's deflected by a high stick. Miller back in net with 59 seconds left as faceoff returns to Buffalo zone. Timeout by Sabres.
10:01: Another save on Lydman. icing on Sens. 14.4 seconds left.
10:02: Another icing. 7.1 left
IT'S OVER: Sens hold on to win it 4-2. Alfredsson gets awarded empty-netter at the buzzer as he's hauled down. Shots were 43-31. That's 0-4-1 this year and nine straight losses to the Sens.
taggedSabres game day