Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres get set to meet the Ottawa Senators and try for a). their first home win of the season and b). their first winning streak. The task just got a shade easier as the Senators took the ice for warmup minus center Jason Spezza. He's apparently going to sit out tonight's game with lingering groin problems and Brian Lee will dress, giving Ottawa seven blueliners.
Spezza sat out the season opener against the Sabres on Oct. 8 but has played the last five games and posted a goal and four assists. There was apparently no indication of any trouble at today's morning skate so that's a break for the Sabres.
9:25 p.m.: We're under way. Sens are 0-3-1 on the road this year. Sabres 0-3-1 at home. Something will give. Ottawa's worst road start since '92 expansion year -- when it lost its first 38!! Sabres' worst start at home since 0-5-2 in '93.
18:48 left: Rivet crunched to the boards by Ruutu in the Ottawa zone. Goes off holding the left arm/shoulder. That doesn't look good. Look for Mike Weber to make his season debut tomorrow night.
17:11 left: Stupid penalty by Kovalev, a holding call in the offensive zone, puts Buffalo on the power play.
15:20 left: Rivet is back on the bench. Wow. Wonder if his shoulder popped out and they popped it back in.
13:17 left: Hecht stopped from the edge of the crease a few seconds after Kaleta destroys Winchester with an open ice hit.
Hey, know what's missing tonight? Those stupid blooper videos they play on the HD board. Hmmm. I issued an opinion on them this morning too. Interesting.
12:44 left: Shots are 9-1 for the Sabres in this period. Lots of offensive zone time. Do they get rewarded?
9:25 left: Elliott up to the task on a sizzler by Montador that boosts the shot count to 11-2.
4:20 left: A Hecht tip wide, a Connolly shot to the midsection. Shots are 16-4 for Sabres. They're really pressing. One question: Where was this kind of play the first 40 minutes? Attendance announced as 18,009, just under 700 shy of a sellout.
1:56 left: Sekera, who's had a solid game, does a spin at the blue line to get open but Elliott makes the save for his 17th of the period. Dude is less than two minutes away from going 9-0 against Buffalo. Ridiculous.
1:22 left: Miller out. Faceoff in Sens' end.
1:11 left: Montador goes for interference at center ice. Killer.
46.8 left: Elliott stops Leopold and holds on. 19-4 shots.
38.7 left: Vanek stopped. You should see the empty seats in the 100 level. It's a one-goal game on a Friday night people. Where are you going?
22.0 left: Alfredsson with the backhand into the empty net for the hat trick and his 1,000th point. Dude has 41 career goals against Buffalo -- tied for most ever against Sabres. Crazy.
it's over: A 4-2 loss. Final shots were 36-32 and 20-5 in the third.
We're under way in this snoozer. I feel bad for the people here. I saw a terrific hockey game last Saturday in Chicago that you could have easily justified paying big bucks to see. This one is a scratch-nickels-together affair.
16:33 left: Looks like Tyler Myers was among those asleep. His blind back pass is intercepted behind the net by Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon eventually outbattles Mike Grier a few seconds later to stuff one past Miller and make it 2-1.
15:15 left: Connolly makes it 2-2 by blasting one through Elliott from the right circle. Leaked through his right arm. Another shot the Sens' goalie must stop. Shots are 16-7 but the Sabres are even. Connolly's first two-goal game since Dec. 27, 2009 at St. Louis. And if you're thinking ahead, he's never had a trick in the NHL.
14:03 left: Roy stopped in tight by Elliott.
13:24 left: Vanek goes for boarding after sending Ruutu into the boards on a dangerous hit. But Shannon goes for unsportsmanlike conduct/diving. Hmmm. (OK, now I get it: Shannon was announced in error. Ruutu did in fact get the penalty but went to the dressing room for repairs so Shannon was serving it).
9:48 left: Great shift by Stafford gets the crowd back into the game and the Sabres carry the momentum to the next shift as well. Stafford powered into the zone and had at least three good chances but just failed to get his stick on the puck.
9:16 left: The momentum doesn't last as Myers is caught up ice and Alfredsson blasts one by Miller on a 2-on-1 for his second of the night and third of the season. That makes it 3-2 for Ottawa and gives Alfredsson 999 career points. In Myers' defense, a poor back pass by Connolly was a big problem on the goal.
5:14 left: Roy goes for hooking, giving Alfredsson and company a big chance. Alfredsson had just one goal coming into tonight. He's got two in this one. Has just killed the Sabres in his career, Jason Pominville's OT goal in 2006 notwithstanding. We all remember the overtime goal that ended Buffalo's season in '07. Alfredsson has 80 points (40-40) in 78 career games against Buffalo.
1:47 left: I've liked Myers' assertiveness his last two shifts, especially on the penalty kill. About time. You're 6-foot-8. Nobody else is. Start using that to your advantage.
28.4 left: Mr. Underwood just cranked one off Miller's mask that left the Buffalo goaltender momentarily stunned.
End-2nd: Ottawa holds its 3-2 lead. Shots were 14-12 for the Senators and are 27-16 through two.
The Sabres will start Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta with Leopold and Myers on defense. Among the Ottawa starters are captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is just three points shy of 1,000 for his career and Mr. Carrie Underwood, also known as Mike Fisher.
Extra touches by the Sabres with a pregame moment of silence for former Rochester Amerks player Craig Charron, who died of cancer on Wednesday. And a nice pregame faceoff between Craig Rivet and Daniel Alfredsson with Paul Gaustad helping Jimmy Szafranski, a Carly's Club member, to center ice to help with the festivities.
14:08 left: Just two quick whistles so far and not much happening here in the quietest building in the NHL. Two solid shifts by the line of Vanek-Roy-Stafford. You can see the Sabres pressing the tempo with the defense joining the rush several times already once the puck gets past center ice.
12:55 left: Shots are 3-2 for Ottawa. Ryan Miller made the toughest save on Alexei Kovalev's bullet from the slot. No surprises on the Sabres' lines: Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta, Vanek-Roy-Stafford, Hecht-Connolly-McCormick, Ennis-Niedermayer-Grier. Same story on defense: Leopold-Myers, Sekera-Rivet, Butler-Montador. Weber is the healthy scratch for the eighth straight game.
10:14 left: The crowd tries to get the Sabres back in the game and the fourth line does too. But Kaleta bounces off David Hale in the corner and Gaustad has his stick pounded away by old nemesis Jarkko Ruutu. Small scrum in front of Miller.
9:58 left: Shots are 4-2 for Ottawa. Sabres, remember, had 30 first-period shots in the last two games at Chicago and Atlanta. It's like they skate in the mud here. Utterly bizarre.
9:14 left: Myers goes for cross checking just before a great bit of back-checking by Stafford prevents Chris Phillips from driving home a rebound.
8:06 left: Montador loses the puck by his own net for the second time in the period and the Sens take advantage as Erik Karlsson's drive from the right point is deflected by Alfredsson past Miller for a PP goal to make it 1-0. Shots are 7-2 for Ottawa. Alfredsson's 998th career point. He has two goals and six points this season.
6:02 left: The Sabres went more than 10 minutes without a shot, then got two in succession and the second one goes in to tie it at 1-1. Connolly left it go with a quick flip shot from near the left point and he gets credit for his second (no tip by Hecht).
4:20 left: Miller stops Foligno from the slot. Shots are 9-4, Ottawa. Elliott really needed to make that save on Connolly. His team has been dominant most of the period and he lets in a 50-foot flip shot to tie the score. That's how you get a 4.62 GAA.
2:33 left: Gaustad for holding in the offensive zone. Unnecessary.
End-1st: It's 1-1 through one and the Senators have a 13-4 advantage in shots. Still shaking my head over one they didn't take in that last power play as the puck squirted out from behind the net to a wide open Kovalev in the right circle and he foolishly tried a pass instead of firing. Break there. Also a break to be tied as Ottawa has had a huge edge in play.