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Live from Sabres-Habs, Year 40

Greetings from HSBC Arena, where the natural order of jerseys has been restored. The Sabres took their pregame skate in white, the visiting Canadiens whirled around in red. I never used to mind what teams wore, but my good buddy J.A. Schneider has railed about the NHL's decision to have the home team wear dark for years, and he finally convinced me it's just plain wrong.

Of course, the way the league sees it, teams can have regular and third jerseys in dark colors, and if the home fans see them both, they might like them both and buy them both.

Well, Milt Ellis just introduced the Sabres' starting lineup, and Ronan Tynan is about to do the anthem. We'll be back.

7:40 p.m.: Ronan is light's out, as usual, and this was the first time he's ever done the national anthem. I was hoping he do both that and "God Bless America," but you can't get everything. Take the Sabres, for example, they can't get a sellout tonight. There are more than 1,000 empty seats.

But they can get local stars. Rick Azar is taking the ice now, followed by Frank Sedita Jr. and Seymour H. Knox IV. Floyd Smith and Henri Richard are coming next. The first standing ovation of the ceremony goes to Richard.

And the second standing ovation, and the loudest, goes to Rick Jeanneret.

It's a little quieter as B. Thomas Golisano gets introduced to do a 40th puck drop with Craig Rivet and Brian Gionta. A deserved ovation for Rip Simonick.

FIRST PERIOD

7:49 p.m.: And the next 40 years are under way.

7:53 p.m.: The Sabres dodge a bullet as Montreal fires wide an open net -- created just 1:20 in when Andrej Sekera takes out his own goalie, Ryan Miller behind the Buffalo net.

 7:57 p.m.: Montreal defenseman and Rookie of the Year candidate P.K. Subban almost took Nathan Gerbe's head off at center with six minutes gone, with almost being the key word. He just missed, then got a whack from Derek Roy for the effort.

8:01 p.m.: And we hit the first commercial break with 10:04 left with no score. Took awhile to get to that commercial, could take only five seconds to get to the next one. For those who haven't timed their bathroom breaks or beer runs through the years, the commercials come at the first whistle after the clock hits 14:00, 10:00 and 6:00. Unless it's an icing. Just thought you should know.

8:05 p.m.: Sabres get first power play with 9:16 left as Benoit Pouliot goes for hooking, according to  Voice of the Aud Milt Ellils.

8:08 p.m.: No shots for the Sabres on the power play, which is now 2 for 18 this season.

8:09 p.m.: It's the Habs' turn to on the power play as Paul Gaustad goes off for hooking with 6:54 to go. Montreal is 0 for 9 with the man advantage through three games.

8:10 p.m.: I just looked at the date, so J.A. if you're still reading this, put me down as a yes to attend the wedding. And tell Dana sorry I forgot to mail the reply card today (since it's due tomorrow). I'm such a slacker.

8:12 p.m.: Sabres catch a break as Tomas Plekanec, who seems to always strike against Buffalo, shoots his backhand wide while staring at an open net with 5:48 to go.

8:15 p.m.: Nice little bump by Jaroslav Spacek along the boards as the final TV timeout of the period hits at 3:39, with the score still tied at 0-0. Was having a conversation with soon-to-be-ex-Sabres.com star Erin Pollina (tonight's her last night with the team) this morning about how much we missed having Spacho around the dressing room. It got me thinking of my favorites through my nine seasons, and they're all defensemen: Jay McKee, Brian Campbell, Toni Lydman and Spacho. They made the room a fun place to come every day.

8:22 p.m.: The teams head to the dressing room with a 0-0 tie, though the Sabres almost made it 1-0 in the final minute. Drew Stafford fed Ennis for a partial breakaway, with Carey Price making the stop with 35 sesconds left. Tyler Myers just missed on the rebound attempt. The Sabres have eight shots, Montreal has six.

SECOND PERIOD

8:40 p.m.: Game on, with a chant of "Go, Habs, go" ringing through the 300 Level.

8:43 p.m.: Welcome back to the lineup, Chris Butler. The Sabres' defenseman gets a quick dose of bad luck with Montreal scoring off his skate with just 1:29 off the clock. Alexandre Picard's shot from the point was blocked, and Picard recovered and pushed it toward the front, where it hit Butler's foot and went past Miller. It's 1-0 Montreal.

8:49 p.m.: The Habs will go back on the power play with 13:37 left after Ennis interferes with Price. The shots are 3-2 this period in favor of Montreal, with the teams combining for just 19 shots. The Sabres introduce Air Force Capt. Anthony King, the recipient of Butler's Tickets for Troops program.

Another year goes by, and this is still the only rink in the NHL that doesn't give a standing ovation to the introduced military personnel.

8:54 p.m.: Sabres kill the penalty while facing three shots.

9:02 p.m.: Long time with no whistle. It's 1-0 still with 3:51 to go.

9:05 p.m.: The Habs are going back on the power play with 2:25 left after Steve Montador roughs Jeff Halpern. The Sabres blew two glorious scoring chances with about 6:30 left. First, Mike Grier's point-blank deflection of a Rob Niedermayer pass went over the net. Then, Grier had Thomas Vanek wide open in the slot but missed him with the pass. Grier went to the bench and went Paul Bunyan with his stick, giving it an overhead two-hand smash over the boards.

9:09 p.m.: The Habs get their first power-play goal of the season as Josh Gorges rings one of the post and in from the point with 1:05 left. It's 2-0 Montreal.

9:10 p.m.: The teams head to the dressing room with Montreal holding a 2-0 lead and an 18-15 edge in shots. The Habs have allowed 37 shots per game, but the Sabres seem intent on bringing that down. The Sabres haven't scored in 115:29. The last time they were shut out in back-to-back games was to start the 2003-04 season when Philly and the Islanders sent them on their way with nothing.

THIRD PERIOD

9:28 p.m.: Game on.

9:33 p.m.: Derek Roy raises his arms and looks skyward as the Sabres finally rediscover the net with 16:34 to play. Price stopped Drew Stafford's wraparound, and the puck moved to Roy at the opposite side of the crease. The center whiffed on his first attempt but had time to recover and make the score 2-1.

9:34 p.m.: The Sabres' goalless drought ends at 118:55.

9:38 p.m.: It's still 2-1 with 13:52 to play.

9:48 p.m.: Montreal holds its 2-1 lead with 6:17 to go. The Habs have a 9-5 shot edge this period.

9:54 p.m.: It's still 2-1 Montreal with 4:40 to go and 17,264 actually making some noise.

9:58 p.m.: Clock has ticked down to 2:28 with the Sabres trying to push for the tie.

10 p.m.: The Sabres try to get Miller to the bench with 34.8 seconds left, but they ice the puck, bringing the faceoff to the Buffalo zone and Miller back on the ice. Timeout, Sabres.

10:05 p.m.: Montreal wins, 2-1. The Sabres are 0-3-1 at home and 1-3-1 overall. They're in Chicago on Saturday night.

---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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