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Quinn resting after surgery

PHILADELPHIA -- Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn is recovering this morning after undergoing heart surgery in the Cleveland Clinic to repair an aortic aneurysm. The surgery was scheduled in advance before it was performed Monday.

Mike Gilbert, director of public relations, said this morning the operation was similar one former defenseman Teppo Numminen had to repair a heart valve during his career. Quinn is expected to remain in the hospital for the next seven to 10 days. The Sabres had no other details.

"Larry Quinn, managing partner of the Buffalo Sabres, successfully completed surgery to repair an aneurysm of the ascending aorta on Monday afternoon," a statement released by the Sares said this morning. "Mr. Quinn is resting at the Cleveland Clinic and will return to his duties at the Sabres as his physical condition will allow."

The Sabres are playing the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Wells Fargo Center.

--- Bucky Gleason


Sabres nearing return to full health


Jason Pominville was awaiting results from a neurological-psychological examination today before taking the next step toward recovering from a concussion. Craig Rivet had a full workout with the Sabres after aggravating a shoulder injury and Shaone Morrisonn joined him along the blue line while coming back from a groin injury.

The Sabres could have all three veterans back during a three-game road trip that starts tomorrow night in Philadelphia. None of the three is expected to be in the lineup against the Flyers but they could return when the Sabres play Atlanta and Dallas later in the week. Pominville was hoping to be cleared for contact while the other two are waiting to regain full strength.

"I've been skating pretty hard," Pominville said. "It's getting better and better. The tough part I've been able to gauge is that I haven't been able to do any battle drills with the guys. Obviously, it's a big part of the game and being in front of the net, trying to find those spots and being in competition with the guys. Once I'm able to do that, I'll know more about where I'm at." 

The question will be which defenseman comes out when Rivet and/or Morrisonn are ready. Chris Butler has played well since being inserted into the lineup. Mike Weber played well in his season debut against the Devils. Andrej Sekera has played much better this year than last.

--- Bucky Gleason

Take two minutes for reading on SI's Hockey Book

Cover Got home from New Jersey and getting ready to pack for the World Series (cheap plug: Follow all things Rangers-Giants this week on the Inside Pitch blog). So I sat down to read a book I got in the mail and I have to say this: Run, don't walk, to your nearest book store or online agent and get The Hockey Book, the latest creation of Sports Illustrated.

There are incredible articles and glimpses into the SI Vault from writers like Michael Farber, E.M. Swift, George Plimpton and even William Faulkner. But this coffee-table suitable tome is all about the photos. Amazing stuff. Both modern day and incredible glimpses back to the Original Six era.

The front cover (above-click for bigger image) includes a pantheon of the game's all-time greats. One of them is Dominik Hasek, resplendent in his black goathead jersey of the 90s (bottom right corner). On Pages 2-3 is a spectacular black-and-white, circa 1998, of a steely-eyed  Hasek, tight on his eyes and facemask. Portrait of concentration.

The two-page spread is a key element of the book. There's one of the 2009 KHL All-Star Game outside in Red Square, another of the Team Canada bench bolting on the ice after Sidney Crosby's Olympic winner in Vancouver (great shots of the fans with their arms in the air and Lindy Ruff on the bench hugging a trainer), and there's Patrick Kane, mouthguard askew, heading down ice to celebrate his Stanely Cup-winning goal.

Found plenty of Sabres references too:

--A net cam view of Sabres prospect Luke Adam getting turned away by a Russian goalie during last year's Canada-Russia junior Super Series.

--Crosby battling Jason Pominville and Henrik Tallinder in the snow at the 2008 Winter Classic in the Ralph.

--Crosby beating backup Jocelyn Thibault during a Penguins-Sabres game in 2007 at the Igloo.

--A full-page overhead of a Sabres-Flyers line brawl during the 1978 playoffs (Terry Martin, Gary MacAdam and Bill Stewart are the Sabres you can identify)

There's several "Wish You Were There" graphic boxes recounting great moments of the decades. Here's one mentioned I was there for: An 8-6 Penguins win over the Devils on New Year's Eve, 1988, at the Igloo. The significance was that Mario Lemieux became the first -- and still only -- player to score a goal five ways in the same game. He tallied even-strength, short-handed, power play, penalty shot and empty net. Wild. I still have the VHS tape of that one.

Incredible day. Incredible book. Here's more on the book from AOL Fanhouse.

---Mike Harrington


Devils' situation about to blow up

NEWARK, N.J. -- What in the world is going on with the Devils? And I'm not talking their 0-4-1 home record or complete no-show in Saturdays' 6-1 loss to the Sabres.

Coach John MacLean must want to see the unemployment line quickly in his first month on the job. I don't care what Ilya Kovalchuk did. When you're a $100 million guy, you can't be a healthy scratch. A rookie head coach, even a popular ex-player like MacLean, won't ever win that battle.

Said MacLean: "It's between him and I. It was my decision. I take responsibility for all my decisions."

I asked MacLean if it was a non-hockey issue (like maybe Kovalchuk showed up late for the game). He wouldn't go there. Simply said it was his decision and that Kovalchuk "knows where I'm going with this."

He wouldn't even say if Kovalchuk would play today against the Rangers. Devils beat writers were told that GM Lou Lamoriello was unavailable. Hmmm. After what this team went through all summer to finally get Kovalchuk, this happens eight games into the season? And how about the fans who paid good money to see this star player and then see him get sit down for no apparent reason with no explanation?

It's not like the Devils didn't know Kovalchuk doesn't play a lick of defense and likes to stay on the ice for a minute or more at a time. But they wanted him to fill seats in this beautiful but often-empty arena in the NHL's newest hinterland. Stay tuned. Things are really heating up here in this tropical paradise.

---Mike Harrington

Three stars

Live from the Rock: Sabres vs. Devils

NEWARK,  N.J. -- Greetings from Pasaaic, which is about where the press box here is in the Prudential Center. As in, high-high-high. So I'll be giving you reports from the blimp from the Sabres-Devils game. Just kidding (sort of).

First order of business: Lindy Ruff just said in his pregame interview with WGR Radio that Craig Rivet aggravated his shoulder last night with that hit in the third period against Ottawa and will be replaced tonight by Mike Weber, who will be making his first appearance of the season. Rivet's injury is not considered serious and he's day to day. 

Here's another warmup bulletin: Ilya Kovalchuk is not on the ice for the Devils. Alexander Vasuynov is on the ice, just up from Albany of the AHL. No word on Kovy's absence. No Martin Brodeur and no Kovalchuk? No excuse for Buffalo. (No excuse for the quality of the wireless in this press box too but I'll keep working on that.)

---Mike Harrington

Third Period

8:47 p.m: Game on.

19:10 left: Let's see if the Devils try to make some statements in this period. Big scrum here results in a roughing penalty on Gaustad.

17:00 left: Penalty killed. But Gaustad goes back in for cross-checking Clarkson, who throw a right cross in retaliation that didn't get noted.

10:07 left: Still 5-0. Devils have all seven shots in the period. Sabres effectively killing the clock.

8:35 left: There goes Miller's shutout as Zach Parise pots a rebound behind Myers to make it 5-1.

8:09 left: Vanek answers right back with his second of the night to make it 6-1. Brutal giveaway by Matthew Corrente to Vanek and Tallinder couldn't stop him from getting his own rebound.

1:00 left: Nothing to report. Still 6-1. We're heading to the locker room.

Second Period

Of note: Here's why I hate NHL stats: The Devils were charged with five giveaways in the first period and Buffalo with one. Butler and Myers made three on the first shift and didn't get charged for them. ... The Devils won 10 of 14 faceoffs in the first period. Niedermayer got the second assist on the Myers goal and, like Grier, that was his first point of the season.

7:56 p.m.: We're under way. 

19:34 left: Huge early momentum right off the bat chance by Zubrus, who's stopped by Miller in alone from the doorstep.

16:50 left: Two-point nights for Grier and Niedermayer. Grier with the steal along the left boards, Niedermayer with the pass in front and Ennis with the tap-in for his 2nd of the season. 3-0 Sabres.

12:23 left: Ennis will learn with experience to not overhandle the puck. Right now, he's the current-day version of Maxim Afinogenov. Great skill but too much dipsy-doo. Don't want any turnovers cycling back to give New Jersey any momentum. The Devils are as dead as this crowd.

11:43 left: The rout is on as Kaleta gets his first of the year, pounding home the rebound of a Leopold flip shot to make it 4-0, Sabres. And that's it for Hedberg. The crowd roars as Brodeur's night off ends. Four goals on 13 shots for your backup won't get the job done and Hedberg disappears down the tunnel.

8:03 left: Zubrus goes for high sticking Roy -- and gets four minutes.

7:00 left: Ennis off the post above a sprawling Brodeur.

4:00 left: The Sabres don't score but it's hard to gripe about the PP. Lots of possession time and some good chances. The best was actually when a puck hopped over Stafford's stick when he had an open net to stuff home a rebound. Shots are 18-12 for Buffalo (10-3 in this period).

3:32 left: Miller stops Clarkson on a 3-on-1 and grabs the puck as it leaks under his arm before anyone else can get it. 

3:19 left: Zajac for holding in the offensive zone sends Buffalo back to another power play.

1:58 left: The power play converts as Roy feeds Vanek for a tap-in. The play was made by Gerbe in the corner as he sped past Tallinder and outfought him for the puck. Tyler Myers doesn't miss Tallinder the way the ex-Sabres is playing tonight. Vanek's second. Gerbe's first point of the season. 5-0 Sabres.

End-2nd: The Devils leave to a richly deserved booing. It's 5-0 and the Sabres had a 14-4 edge in shots in that period. It's 22-13 for the game. Hard to figure this team out.

First Period

16:13 left: Our first whistle. It was a disastrous start for Myers and Butler, who gave the puck away at least three times on an opening shift of 50 seconds that never saw the puck leave the Buffalo zone. Miller made two good saves and then made another one at the 17-minute mark on David Clarkson, who went right around Weber and streaked down the wing for a clear shot.

14:30 left: A Devils PR official just walked through the press box telling people that Ilya Kovalchuk is a "healthy scratch". What in the world does that mean? Did he take John MacLean's name in vain? Did he show up late to the arena? No idea. He did skate this morning. Gonna be a lot more to that story.

13:03 left: The Sabres take a 1-0 lead as Hedberg gives up a brutal goal to Stafford on a routine snap shot from the right circle. Unscreened, right between the legs. Stafford's third. 1-0 Sabres on Buffalo's first shot on goal after Devils had five.

12:02 left: Hedberg stops Gerbe from in front and it's pretty funny to see old friend Henrik Tallinder with a clothesline around the neck of Gaustad in the ensuing scrum.

11:25 left: Rod Pelley off for the Devils after taking Jason Arnott shot in the mush. 

9:43 left: Sabres to the power play as Dainius Zubrus goes for pulling down Leopold in the corner in the Buffalo end. The defense pairs tonight are Butler-Myers, Leopold-Montador and Weber-Sekera. No changes up front as the Sabres are rolling Vanek-Roy-Stafford, McCormick-Connolly-Hecht, Ennis-Niedermayer-Grier and Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta.

4:00 left: A sedate period in front of a sedate crowd. Looks like 10-12,000 range. Shots are 9-4 for the Devils.

3:27 left: Myers blasts home his second of the year from the right circle after a beautiful diagonal pass in the zone from Grier, who gets his first point of the season. Sabres lead, 2-0.

3;10 left: McCormick goes for holding and challenges Colin White, even drops his gloves. White skates away. Devils to the power play.

1:13 left: Hedberg gets a piece of a Niedermayer backhand and the puck just dribbles wide. Watching a Devils game here is like a Sabres game in HSBC: Home team skating in mud, crowd quiet as a library and fans booing regularly. Devils are 0-3-1 at home, just like Sabres entered last night.

End-1st: Sabres lead, 2-0. Devils have a 9-8 edge in shots. Crowd boos them off the ice, a sound the Sabres have heard a lot of this year. At them in HSBC and music to their ears on the road.

Pregame musings: Kovalchuk offcially scratched. ... Buffalo starters on defense are Myers and Butler so it looks like the pairs might get shuffled with the Rivet injury. Butler has been very good since cracking the lineup. ...  I was thinking three games in four nights might mean Patrick Lalime in goal. But Ryan Miller didn't have hard nights in Atlanta or last night against Ottawa. And, of course, the Sabres need a win. ...  People have been clamoring for Weber and he had a terrific year last season in Portland. He wasn't that impressive in preseason. Need to see more decisiveness with the puck.

Cheap plug alert: Be sure to follow my coverage on the Inside Pitch blog from the World Series starting Tuesday, either in San Francisco or Philadelphia (and I'll thus be at the Sabres-Flyers game if the Phillies can come back). Bookmark the blog!!!  Across the ballpark from Rangers Ballpark is Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Looks like I'll have plenty of time on Halloween to get a ticket for the game against Jacksonville. Noon Central start with World Series Game Four not until 7:20 Central and press conferences thus not starting till 4ish.

Quiet morning in Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. -- No morning skate for the Sabres today as they opted to stay back at the hotel for a meeting to prepare for tonight's game against the Devils. No doubt the topics of the meeting will include that terrible first period in Friday night's loss to Ottawa.

The Devils had a light optional skate in the Prudential Center and it's confirmed that Johan Hedberg will start in goal in place of Martin Brodeur. I remain pretty convinced the Sabres go with Patrick Lalime.

Even at this early stage of the season, pretty hard to believe we're looking at the teams that are 13th and 14th in the East standings. And get this: A win tonight by Florida over the Islanders combined with a Sabres loss would drop Buffalo into the conference cellar. Holy moly.

A word from last night on Daniel Alfredsson's 1000th career point: Alfredsson is the fifth player to post No. 1000 against Buffalo. The others were Montreal's Henri Richard (Dec. 20, 1973 at the Aud), the Islanders' Denis Potvin (April 4, 1987 at Nassau Coliseum), Detroit's Steve Yzerman (Feb. 24, 1993 at the Aud in a 10-7 Buffalo win that also featured Alexander Mogilny's 60th goal of the season), and Mogilny himself for Toronto at HSBC Arena on March 15, 2004.

(Thanks to Sabres information director Kevin Snow and the Elias Sports Bureau for that note).

---Mike Harrington

Three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Senators

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.

---Mike Harrington

Third Period

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. 

Second Period

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. 

First Period

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.

Six Sabres prospects to face Russians

The Russians are coming, and six Sabres prospects will be there to meet them.

The Canadian Hockey League -- which is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League -- is welcoming Team Russia for a six-game series next month featuring some of the world's top junior players. Six are Sabres draft picks.

The series starts with the QMJHL hosting two games, and defenseman Jerome Gauthier-Leduc will play in both. The OHL is up next, with forwards Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno playing in the second of two games. Defensemen Mark Pysyk and Matt MacKenzie will play both games for the WHL, while Brayden McNabb will play in one.

As always, my childhood street hockey buddy Kris Baker has the latest on all the Sabres' prospects at Today's report starts with Kassian, who has five goals and 16 points in seven games with Windsor.

---John Vogl

Sabres will miss Brodeur Saturday in New Jersey

The Sabres won't have to worry about Martin Brodeur blanking them for the second time this season when they meet the New Jersey Devils Saturday night in the Prudential Center because New Jersey coach John MacLean said today that backup Johan Hedberg will make his first start of the season.  

Brodeur posted his 112th career shutout Thursday at Montreal and No. 111 was his 1-0 overtime victory Oct. 13 in HSBC Arena.

Hedberg is a 37-year-old veteran of 293 NHL games who burst on the scene with Pittsburgh late in the 2000-01 season. He beat the Sabres and Dominik Hasek in the teams' memorable seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series, which ended on Darius Kasparaitis' overtime goal.

Brodeur has played all seven of the Devils' games so far, going 2-4-1 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, numbers that are well off his career norms. Hedberg's record against Buffalo is certainly a reason for the call: He's 12-2-2 against the Sabres in his career with a 2.60 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He has played for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas and spent the last four years in Atlanta.

It might be the battle of the backups Saturday night as the Sabres could very easily give Patrick Lalime his second start, so Ryan Miller doesn't play three games in four nights.

---Mike Harrington

Morning skate report: Morrisonn improving

About a dozen Sabres took part in an optional morning skate in preparation for tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators. Jason Pominville and Shaone Morrisonn, both on the road back from injuries, were among them. Morrisonn skated on his own beforehand and then stayed on the ice and joined the team for the first time since suffering his groin injury in the final three minutes of the Oct. 13 overtime loss to New Jersey.

"It's getting better every day so that's really positive," Morrisonn said. "I don't know if I caught a rut in the ice or what happened that night. But I felt that pop and I couldn't really move. It hurt to walk for a couple days but from a week ago, it's making great progress."

Struggling Brian Elliott is expected to be in goal here tonight for Ottawa. After winning 29 games for the Senators last season, he's 1-2 with an ugly 4.62 goals-against average and .863 save percentage this year.

Maybe seeing Buffalo will get Elliott back on his game as he's been an absolute Sabre-killer, going 8-0 against them with a 1.89 GAA and .937 save percentage. 

Ryan Miller, meanwhile, will play for Buffalo. For the season, he's 2-3-1, 2.35 and .915. But, like his team, Miller has been much better of late.

Miller's first three starts: 1-2-0, 3.39, .880
Miller's last three starts: 1-1-1, 1.33, .951

With New Jersey's win last night in Montreal, the Senators (1-4-1) are last overall in the NHL with three points. And GM Bryan Murray has been threatening changes, even indicating he's spoken to Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher about a possible deal.

---Mike Harrington

Is it a hat trick if no one sees it?

West Seneca's Lee Stempniak, who entered the game with no goals, posted his first career hat trick Thursday night for the Phoenix Coyotes in a 4-2 win over Los Angeles. One problem: There was basically nobody in Arena to see it. Announced attendance was 6,706 although estimates from Arizona media was in the 2,500-3,000 range. Arizona Republic reporter Sarah McLellan tweeted this picture -- and it's not during warmups. It's from the second period.

Memo to Gary Bettman: Why all the effort to keep a team in a town that doesn't care? Same with Atlanta and Florida. 

---Mike Harrington

Pominville encouraged by progress

Jason Pominville still isn't sure when he'll be back in a game for the Buffalo Sabres, but the right winger is encouraged by the rapid progress he's making.

Pominville, who has been out since suffering a concussion Oct. 11, practiced with his teammates for the first time today in HSBC Arena. He did all the noncontact drills, including end-to-end sprints at the end, and came through fine.

"It felt good. It’s definitely a big step," Pominville said. "Yesterday, I was out there on my own, didn’t really do much, just skated around and shot pucks. I wasn’t out there that long. Today, to actually be able to participate in a few flow drills was good, and I felt good, so that’s a big step."

Pominville reflected on his changes from the first few days after the injury, when he wasn't even allowed to watch television, use a wireless phone or surf the Internet. That inactivity sapped his fitness level, but he's eager to rebound after doctors gave him the OK to skate with the team.

"The game shape part is something that’s I’m going to have to work on," Pominville said. "I’m up to the task. I want to be back out there."

---John Vogl

Pominville on for practice in limited role

Jason Pominville's comeback road is continuing today as he is on the ice with the Sabres, albeit in a red non-contact jersey, for today's practice in HSBC Arena. It's certainly starting to look good for Pominville to go through practice in a full role next week and then zero in on a return to game action. Perhaps it could be the Atlanta-Dallas road trip on Oct. 29-30.

Shaone Morrisonn (groin) skated on his own for about 25 minutes prior to practice. He is not on the ice with the team. All other players are taking part in the workout.

---Mike Harrington

Ticket sales open for Sabres show at Albright-Knox

Tickets went on sale today for "Forty: The Sabres in the NHL", a special photographic and multimedia exhibit honoring the team's 40th anniversary at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The exhibition will run from Nov. 7-Jan. 9. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $5 for children 6-12 and free children under 5 and gallery members. Tickets are available at or the gallery's admissions desk.

The exhibition features more than 200 photographs and film documenting the team’s history, and will also debut a new and innovative video installation dubbed "NHL in 360.° Many of the photos were taken by Sabres team photographer Bill Wippert, a Buffalo News staffer, and former Courier-Express and News staffer Ron Moscati. The video will include a player's-eye view of the game as HD cameras were affixed to players helmets for an up-close look at the action.

The Nov. 7 opening day will run from 10 am through 10 pm and will include several additional activities, including Sabres guests in the Gallery throughout the day. All visitors to the exhibit receive a souvenir program featuring images from the exhibition and excerpts from several essays. Among the writers are former News critic Richard Huntington and Jean Knox, the widow of Seymour H. Knox III.

From January 2 through January 5, the Stanley Cup and a selection of trophies from the Hockey Hall of Fame will be on display at the Gallery in conjunction with the World Junior Championships.

The Sabres have also published a limited-edition coffee table book entitled "Sabres at Forty," a compilation of photos and interviews from Sabres alumni, staff, and coaches. The book will sell for $39.95 and is available at shop AK at the Albright-Knox, and the Sabres Store at HSBC Arena.

---Mike Harrington

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Pick the three stars

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.


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.


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.


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

Canucks' Rypien suspended indefinitely for fan altercation

ATLANTA -- The NHL has suspended Vancouver's Rick Rypien indefinitely, pending a hearing, for grabbing a fan in Minnesota as the forward exited the ice following an altercation with the Wild's Brad Staubitz. The video is below.

---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 |

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 |

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 |