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Live from Sabres at Hotlanta

ATLANTA -- Greetings from Blueland, where we're a few hours and 2,500 miles away from the San Francisco Giants taking one more step toward the World Series title. Oh, and the Sabres are visiting the Thrashers, too. Any guesses which place I'd rather be?

Come on, of course it's Hotlanta. A) I'm paid to be here, and that's a good start. 2) I used to live in Georgia, so it's always nice to be back. C) Well, I guess it's mostly because of A).

The Sabres are trying to end a five-game winless skid (0-4-1), and they'll have to face a huge team to do it. The Atlanta dressing room is filled with big dudes. They have eight guys who weigh 220 pounds or more, led by 6-foot-5, 265-pound Dustin Byfuglien (Cheap Plug Alert: Read Wednesday's Notebook for more on Byfuglien). It'll be tough for the Sabres to find room in the offensive zone.

As we get closer to the Giants starting on the West Coast, we'll head back east for a look at the Portland Pirates. The Sabres' minor-league affiliate improved to 5-1 with a win in Williamsville's David Leggio's first AHL game.

Be back when the puck drops.

6:47 p.m.: OK, I'm back early because the best members of the Thrashers' organization just took the ice. The people in Blueland are definitely nice, but I prefer RC Land. If you see me out and about, you can ask me where that is. It's an amazing, amazing place.

FIRST PERIOD

7:08 p.m.: Game on.

7:09 p.m.: First 45 seconds belong to the Sabres, with Chris Mason forced to make a point-blank stop on Cody McCormick.

7:10 p.m.: As usual, we have an intimate gathering of the Thrashers' closest 2,000 friends. This place is empty, but it's still one of the top buildings in the sports. It'd be something if fans actually came.

7:15 p.m.: Sabres take a 1-0 lead and hear applause with 14:57 to go. Tyler Ennis takes a long breakout pass from Steve Montador and streaks toward Mason on a partial breakaway from the Atlanta blue line. Ennis beats the goalie stickside for his first goal of the season.

7:18 p.m.: We hit the first commercial break with the Sabres holding a 1-0 lead and 7-0 shot advantage with 13:34 left.

7:26 p.m.: The next commercial comes with 8:16 to go, and the Sabres have a 9-0 shot edge. The Thrashers can do little. Two fans sitting in the top five rows started a "Let's go, Buffalo" chant that echoed through the arena. The crowd count might be up to 3,000 or so now. I'd count them all, but I'm terrible at math.

7:29 p.m.: Atlanta gets its break as Tyler Myers goes off for slashing with 7:43 left.

7:32 p.m.: So much for that break. No shots still with 5:45 left, two seconds remaining on the power play and the faceoff in the ATL end.

7:33 p.m.: Atlanta gets its first shot with 5:32 left from the slot, and Ryan Miller stops the rebound attempt, too.

7:35 p.m.: Final commercial comes with 3:05 left, and when action resumes the Sabres will be on the power play after Mike Grier absorbs a high stick.

7:40 p.m.: The teams head to the dressing room with the Sabres holding a 1-0 lead and 11-2 shot edge.

SECOND PERIOD

7:57 p.m.: Game on.

7:59 p.m.: Sabres go on the power play with 18:36 to go after a too-many-men call on the Thrashers.

8 p.m.: The Sabres take just six seconds to take a 2-0 lead. Derek Roy wins the faceoff, Tyler Myers passes to Chris Butler along the blue line, get the puck back and whistles a waist-high slap shot by Mason.

8:02 p.m.: The Sabres take a 3-0 lead with 17:26 to go. Mason stops Paul Gaustad but sweeps the rebound right to charging Cody McCormick for the tap in. Timeout for the ATL.

8:04 p.m.: Seconds after Butler breaks up a two-on-one, Jochen Hecht heads to the box for tripping with 16:02 left.

8:08 p.m.: Sabres kill that penalty, but they'll have to kill another as teams head to commercial and Drew Stafford heads to box for slashing with 13:17 to go. Buffalo has an 18-6 shot edge.

8:11 p.m. Andrew Ladd cuts the Atlanta power play 33 seconds short by taking tripping penalty with 11:49 left.

8:17 p.m.: The Sabres' 3-0 lead remains with 9:14 left, but they've built their shot edge to 21-8.

8:20 p.m.: Penalty run continues as Ben Eager high-sticks Stafford with 6:35 left. Eager then takes two runs at Stafford and gets a talking-to from the ref in the penalty box.

8:26 p.m.: Kiss Cam is on, and I feel kind of bad for the camera guys. There's not enough people here to find couples. They put the camera on a few folks, and they obviously weren't dating.

8:29 p.m.: Referee goes to the phone to see if Thomas Vanek has his first goal of the season with 2:21 left. The winger tipped a point shot by Jordan Leopold, but initial look was he deflected it with a high stick.

8:31 p.m.: And as expected, no goal. Still 3-0.

8:34 p.m.: Teams head to the dressing room with Sabres holding a 3-0 lead and dominating 27-12 edge in shots.

THIRD PERIOD

8:52 p.m.: The Sabres are 0-1 when leading after two periods. Game on.

8:53 p.m.: Hecht heads back to the box for hooking after just 68 seconds. It's the eighth penalty of the last 21 minutes.

8:54 p.m.: Tobias Enstrom, playing in his team-record 252nd game, makes the score 3-1 with a slap shot from the point with 18:13 to go.

8:57 p.m.: The organization knows how to make it loud in here with music, horns and sirens. Fans would make it even louder.

8:59 p.m.: What do you know? Another penalty. This time, it's Byfuglien for interference with 15:43 left.

9:01 p.m.: Sabres fail to score their second power-play goal of the night.

9:07 p.m.: Someone gave a big group of fans Thundersticks. Have I mentioned I hate Thundersticks? There's 9:44 left with Buffalo holding its 3-1 lead.

9:10 p.m.: Vanek's drought is over as he streaks down the right wing and sends an absolute laser past Mason with 9:35 to go. That should do it in Atlanta with Buffalo up, 4-1. Go watch the Giants for me.

9:17 p.m.: Not quite a record, but you've gotta love being done with the game story with 5:32 remaining. For those who don't know, which would be nearly all of you, the first-edition story is due as soon as the final horn blows. Nice to beat the clock by this much for a change.

9:26 p.m.: Giants up, 2-1! Sabres have one minute left in their 4-1 lead.

9:27 p.m.: It's over in Hotlanta, and so is the Sabres' winless streak. They improve to 2-4-1.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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