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Pominville back on the ice

ATLANTA -- Jason Pominville laced up his skates and took a spin around the Philips Arena ice today following the Sabres' morning skate, the first time the right winger has been on the ice since his Oct. 11 concussion. Coach Lindy Ruff said it's a sign of things to come.

"Tomorrow will be a bike ride and a lot longer skate, probably half an hour," Ruff said. "By Friday, I would think he would be able to get to maybe the same on the ice but ramp up the workload a little bit. Hopefully, by maybe as soon as Monday he’ll be full practice."

Pominville rode a bike before skating. He said he had no problems riding on the team plane, which worsened Tim Connolly's condition during one of his comebacks from concussions.

"He’s gone through two bike rides where he’s felt better," Ruff said. "Usually, a plane ride doesn’t affect it when they get to a certain point. I was just happier he got through yesterday’s bike ride with no ill effects."

Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn joined Pominville on the ice but will miss tonight's game against the Thrashers with a groin injury.

"Morrisonn’s doing better," Ruff said. "Groin’s are funny things. The individual knows when he can push it and when he can’t and he’s doing as much as he can right now."

---John Vogl

Atlanta goalie set to skate today

While the Sabres were skating their blades dull Monday, a player on the team they're facing next was preparing for his first skate in a while.

Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec is scheduled to skate with the Thrashers today for the first time since fainting early in the season opener and suffering a concussion. Coach Craig Ramsay hasn't set a date for Pavelec's return to a game, but the goalie certainly won't be ready for the Sabres' visit to Philips Arena on Wednesday.

"He has to do one more test [today]," Ramsay said. "That shouldn't interfere with him at least practicing, which would be nice to see him get back out there and that's one step closer to playing a game. He's not at that level yet. We're just going to get him on the ice and we'll see what comes from this test and get him started back."

---John Vogl

Video: Sabres Surprisingly Winless at Home

The Sabres are six games into their season with a 1-4-1 record and remain winless at HSBC Arena. John Vogl and Jerry Sullivan think the team doesn't have chemistry and camaraderie yet.

Ruff: Pominville to see doctor, Morrisonn improving

The Sabres had a skate-your-blades-off practice today, with the players gasping for air and falling to the ice after the long run of end-to-end sprints. The two injured players were fortunate enough to miss it.

Defenseman Shaone Morrisonn (groin) and right wing Jason Pominville (concussion) have yet to rejoin their teammates.

"Morrisonn is better. He was on the bike a little bit today, so he’s progressing," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Jason is doing better. He’ll see the doctor today and hopefully resume exercise in the next couple days. The earliest would be tomorrow. That would mean off-ice first. He hasn’t done anything yet. He’s been down [to the arena] a couple times."

---John Vogl

Post-game thoughts

CHICAGO -- Here's what's cluttering my mind after the Sabres' 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks Saturday night in the United Center. When you have 15 minutes to write a game story, like you do when you're not in the Eastern Time Zone, lots of stuff comes into your head after the fact.

Home vs. road: How in the world can this team be so good in Ottawa and again tonight and so patently cruddy in HSBC Arena? Is it the food and water? The stupid blooper reels on the HD board? Doug Allen's pointing? Makes no sense.

"At home, we really just got away from our game," said Lindy Ruff. "We just played a smart efficient game here. We came out smart, our puck movement was smart. When we hang on too long, we get too much one-on-one. We dominated zone time. At home, you just have the tendency to try to make 
a little fancier play."

Marian Hossa: He wears No. 81. He's good. He's sneaky. The Sabres might want to pay attention to him. Two games in a row, he snuck off the bench behind the Buffalo defense and scored on a breakaway via a home run pass.  Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold lost him tonight.

"A mistake on our part in the read by the two defensemen to make sure they kept him in front of us," Ruff said. "Maybe they took for granted for just a second how fast he is."

"You can't let that happen," admitted Myers. "Especially with a guy like that, he's going to finish."

On the good side: Steve Montador was plus-2 and was dynamite. I wanted to see much more of him than just 14+ minutes. Really liked Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe and Cody McCormick. 

On the bad side: Still nothing from Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly, who at least was better than Friday night. No goals yet from Tyler Ennis as well. Rob Niedermayer went 3-9 in the faceoff circle and continues to add nothing. The Sabres were just 21-40 on draws (Connolly was 1-8). The Hawks' key guys did damage, with Patrick Sharp scoring twice for the second straight night. The Sabres' big guns again silent. You don't win most nights when your goals come from Stafford/Gaustad/McCormick.

Myers continues to be downright awful at times. He's minus-7 for the season, which might be the worst in the NHL. He's trying to keep his spirits up. I talked to him for a few minutes tonight for our story coming in Monday's paper (cheap plug). But he just has to be better or this defense will continue to suffer as a group.

In the net: Can't fault Lalime on any of the goals. He made a couple nice saves. Still, just 17 saves on 21 shots doesn't get the job done when the guy at the other end is stopping 38 pucks and standing on his head. He wasn't real happy with the tying goal by Dave Bolland, although the Hawks winger came in alone after speeding by Craig Rivet. The puck slid through Lalime's legs.

"You try to follow him but you have to open up at some point as you move across," he said. "He just got me by the time I got my paddle down and it squeezed through."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Three stars

Live from Chicago: Sabres vs. Hawks

CHICAGO -- Greetings from Level 7 high atop the massive United Center, with the famous Chicago Stadium-sounding organ about 20 feet to my left, as we get set for tonight's Sabres-Blackhawks battle. Not much in the way of pregame activity here today with both teams playing last night (the Hawks won in Columbus while the Sabres ... well, if you don't know how they did, what are you doing on this blog anyway?)

This is one great town and I've been here numerous times, both on personal trips and the 2005 White Sox-Astros World Series. Last time here was for Niagara vs. Kansas in 2007. For 10 minutes, I thought I might be on to something big. Thirty minutes and 107-67 later, it was time for Sully and I to get set for an early-morning flight home. 

Lots of walking time today as well as a magnificent drive through Wrigleyville and down world-famous Lake Shore Drive.  Spectacular views of downtown and Lake Michigan. On a beautiful sunny afternoon, even got some mist on the rental car from Buckingham Fountain. Fun stuff.

DSCN1077 And as for lunch, what better offering than Chicago deep dish pizza? The Blackhawks became the first NHL team to litter their practice jersey with corporate logos this year but at least it's small -- and it least it's for Giordano's, which is possibly the best deep dish on the planet.  

I know folks will say there's better deep dish here, sort of like we tell people there's better wings than the Anchor Bar (which there are) and there's better Italian than Chef's (I'm a big Chef's believer, however, so we'll go on that topic). But this stuff was awesome. Cheesy, saucy, crusty. It was massive. I got more for later. You at least get a picture of this sensational concoction (be sure to click on it for a bigger view!). Forget about appetizers or salads when you're attacking one of these. You just dig in and stay pizza-focused. I was desperate to keep eating.

Did someone say desperate? Focused? Gotta get some hockey cliches in there. As games on Oct. 16 go, this one is as massive for the Sabres as that pizza was for me. They're a mess right now. Offense is non-existent, key players absent, a couple injured. Get this one: Tyler Myers is minus-6 -- tied for the worst rating of any NHL player! (Patrick Kane, by the way, is minus-5 for the Hawks).

We also await whether the Sabres go for any retribution against Niklas Hjalmarsson in the wake of Monday's hit on Jason Pominville. I'm guessing not much happens. NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell, who obviously equates a blindside, concussion-causing hit with an obscene sexual gesture based on his Hjalmarsson-James Wisniewski decisions, will be playing close attention to this one. CBC reported this evening Campbell called Patrick Kaleta and told him to mind his Ps and Qs tonight after Kaleta said Tuesday the Sabres could take care of things themselves tonight.

The Sabres have to focus on hockey tonight but let's see what happens if this thing turns into a blowout either way. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Third Period

10:27 p.m.: We're under way.

18:20 left: Thomas Vanek, still stuck on no goals, tries to pass on a 3-on-1 break with Stafford and Leopold. Fire away, dude.

17:35 left: Nice save by Lalime on Bolland, who broke free down the left wing.

16:00 left: Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta bottle the Hawks in their end for 45 seconds, drawing boos from the crowd. Just outworked every Chicago player for the puck at several spots in the zone.

11;53 left: Huge break for the Sabres. Butler was going for tripping Kane but during the delayed penalty, Toews foolishly cross-checked Butler in front to cancel the power play before it even began. So it's 4-on-4.

11:04 left: Lalime stands up to a strong shot from Duncan Keith after Roy is stripped in the corner by Sharp. Solid work for Lalime in his first start of the year. 

10:24 left: Bolland ties it up, beating Rivet to the outside as he streaks down the left win and sliding the puck between Lalime's legs. 3-3. Rivet simply not fast enough anymore.

9:56 left: Sabres have to hold on as the crowd is back in it. Lalime stops Kane from in front. Shots are 33-21. 

9:07 left: Leopold goes for high sticking Brouwer. Trouble now.

7:08 left: Sharp on a tap-in with one second left on the PP after a great behind-the-back between the legs feed from Kopecky. Hawks lead, 4-3.

3:51 left: Kopecky drills Roy into the end boards and he's slow getting up. Kopecky goes for boarding. Let's see: Hawks have drilled Pominville and Roy in two games. Too bad this one is so late. You would think that warrants response.

3:09 left: Here's the chance now. Nick Boynton for hooking. Sabres up two men for 1:18.

2:47 left: Disaster there. Leopold's shot is blocked and he trips Toews trying to recover the puck back to Connolly.

32.8 left: Lalime out. Shots 41-21. And Keith goes for slashing, giving Buffalo one more power play.

It's over: A tough 4-3 loss. 

Second Period

9:36 p.m.: We're under way.

18:56 left: Cue Chelsea Dagger on the first shot of the period. Hossa beats Lalime on a breakaway after a ridiculous 100-foot pass from Seabrook splits Leopold and Myers. Nice shot off the post. 2-2. Myers a minus-2 and a minus-8 for the season. 

15:00 left: Both 19s are stoned by the goaltenders as Turco stops a Connolly backhand and Lalime is sharp on Toews' chance from in front.

13:32 left: The Sabres will be shorthanded as Grier drove the glass out behind Turco. That wasn't the call however. Butler and Niedermayer get roughing calls and Stalberg goes for the Hawks after a mini scrum.

12:40 left: Sekera with a big hit on Toews, who's taken a couple tonight. Not much action toward Hjalmarsson, who took one hit from Stafford and a glancing one from Kaleta.

11:28 left: Just as the power play ends, Buffalo gets one as Hossa goes for tripping Grier. Attendance announced at 21,293. And unlike HSBC, there's no empty seats in that count either.

9:10 left: One of the best PPs of the season for Sabres but no goal.  Turco stopped Roy, Myers, Gerbe (on Myers' rebound) and Gerbe again. Good work at the point by Myers and Butler. Shots are 24-13 for Sabres. 

2:45 left: The Sabres are winning virtually every battle and are finally rewarded as Cody McCormick is first stopped on a deflection of a Hecht pass but that jams home his own rebound under Turco, who started the problem with a giveaway behind his net a few seconds earlier. McCormick's first as a Sabre. Sabres lead, 3-2. Shots are 29-14. 

End 2nd: Sabres lead, 3-2. Shots were 10-7 and that makes it 29-16 through 40 minutes. Solid performance thus far.

First Period

19:09 left: Sabres get a quick power play on an interference call against Tomas Kopecky.

17:01 left: Decent power play but no goals. Marty Turco solid with big saves off Sekera and Roy. Shots are 4-0 for Sabres.

15:13 left: Icing against Hawks puts puck back in Chicago zone, where it's been most of the time. Big hit a few seconds ago by Kaleta against Jonathan Toews. 

13:57 left: Connolly, who actually seems to be doing productive things out there for once, fakes Viktor Stalberg right to the ice as the crowd groans. Turco makes the save, his sixth of the period. Lalime has yet to face a shot. So far the Sabres have skated like this: Hecht-Connolly-McCormick, Vanek-Roy-Stafford, Ennis-Niedermayer-Grier, Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. With Myers-Leopold, Montador-Butler and Sekera-Rivet.

13:35 left: The Tyler Myers horror show continues. Lose the puck making a routine move from the backhand at the Hawks line, sending Kane and Sharp off on a 2-on-1. Perfect pass by the South Buffalo kid for a one-timer to Sharp to make it 1-0. So  6 1/2 good minutes down the drain. 1-0 Hawks.

13:08 left: Great answer by the Sabres, who deserved a goal thus far. Stafford gets it, backhanding home a Montador rebound. 1-1.

12:51 left: And they deserved a second one as Gaustad's pass to Gerbe in front goes in off Nick Leddy's skate to make it 2-1. Shots are 9-1. The Myers giveaway could have been a huge downer. Quite a reaction. Two goals in 17 seconds and three goals in 44 seconds. Sabres lead, 2-1.

10:50 left: The Hawks tie it up as Montador gets locked up with Lalime in the crease after going in with Kopecky. Or do they? Kopecky called for incidental contact. That's a terrible call. Should have been a goal.

10:00 left: Rivet off after taking a stick to the face under the left eye. He stays on the bench. The action is pretty crazy in this one so far.

4:53 left: Stafford goes for high sticking as he nailed Kopecky in the face with the stick going behind him as he was trying to streak away. Tough break.

2:50 left: Lalime strong on the PK with a big glove save on Dave Bolland and another stop on Toews.  Shots are 13-8. 

1:57 left: Dowell for hooking puts Sabres back on power play. Wondered if Ennis was going to get a penalty shot when the whistle went. It was close. McCormick had banged the puck home just before the whistle and the goal was waved off because the Hawks quickly swept the puck out right to McCormick.

1:08 left: Strong work by Vanek down low. Just missed one chance and fed Myers for a good shot. 

End-1st: Sabres lead, 2-1, and had a 19-9 edge in shots. Can't argue with that period at all. Of course, folks in HSBC Arena have to wonder where this has been the last four home games. And Sabres played a good first Monday against the Hawks too. We'll see.

Warmup update: It is Patrick Lalime leading the Sabres on the ice, meaning he'll make the start. And Patrick Kane is out for the Hawks. The United Center might have the loudest warmup music in the league. Holy moly. Even louder than the Air Canada Centre, which just plays downright annoying heavy metal lyric-less drivel.

Starting lineup announced for Sabres: Lalime in goal, Montador and Butler on defense. Here's the line: Hecht-Connolly-McCormick. Lindy the Line Juggler no doubt at it tonight. Weber again the lone healthy scratch. Morrisonn/Pominville injured.

Looks like Kane is a go

CHICAGO -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville just told the media in a pregame briefing he expects South Buffalo native Patrick Kane to play tonight after Kane missed last night's win in Columbus with the flu.

"We're hopeful," Quenneville said. "He skated this morning, kept feeling a little better. Unless something goes the other way here, we're expecting him to come in and be ready."

The Blackhawks certainly have to be wary of the Sabres exacting revenge for the Jason Pominville hit by Niklas Hjalmarsson on Monday night, but Quenneville said that's not his team's focus.

"You have to worry about your own game and play the game in front of you," Quenneville said. "You've got to be smart. Discipline is important going into any game."

Marty Turco will start in goal for Chicago after posting his first win as a Hawk Friday in Columbus. The Sabres are expected to give backup Patrick Lalime his first start of the season. Chicago is 0-2 at home, losing to Detroit and Nashville, but is 2-0-1 on the road.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Kane on the ice

CHICAGO -- Only a few Blackhawks are on the United Center ice this morning but the first one to get out there was Patrick Kane. Coach Joel Quenneville said after last night's game that Kane was feeling much better after his bout with the flu. I would imagine the South Buffalo native will be good to go tonight.

Kane stopped to take a couple pictures with longtime former Sabres and Hawks defenseman Jerry Korab, who owns a packaging business and lives in suburban Chicago. The Sabres, remember, acquired Korab from the Hawks in 1973.

The Blackhawks did not make Kane available to the media because it was not an official team skate with only a couple players on the ice. Quenneville will be updating his status tonight at 5 p.m. Central. The Sabres are not coming to the United Center at all. Lots of video this afternoon before that nap, boys.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Around the rinks from Chicagoland

CHICAGO -- Getting ready to head over to the United Center to see who's skating this morning, a question mark since both the Sabres and Blackhawks played last night. Although in the case of the Sabres' 2-1 loss to Montreal, I can only use the term played loosely. This team's offense has basically not shown up for the first five games, except for Derek Roy. He's got five of their nine goals! Be sure to catch up with John Vogl's game report after Mike Grier's in-game outburst and Lindy Ruff's post-game proclamations.

The Hawks, meanwhile, ruined the Blue Jackets' home opener with a 5-2 win Friday night. They played without Patrick Kane (flu) and the South Buffalo native is iffy for tonight. Let's see if the Hawks go back to Corey Crawford, who was solid in the final 57 minutes here Monday, or keep Marty Turco in goal after Turco got his first win last night. The Sabres will likely go with Patrick Lalime for the first time this season.

So who's leading the NHL in goals thus far? Tied for the top is none other than Roy, current offensive leader of the sleepwalking Sabres. He's tied with former teammate Clarke MacArthur, who has five goals for the 4-0 Laffs no more. The Leafs won in New York last night in overtime, 4-3. They're 4-0 for the first time since 1993. MacArthur is the first player in the storied and stumbling history of the Toronto franchise to score in his first four games as a Leaf. Heady stuff.

It was a rough night for the Rangers and I'm not just talking about the loss. Chris Drury joined the lineup for the first time this season and promptly went back out in the second period with a new break of his troublesome index inger -- and now he's going to miss another six weeks. Wow.  In addition, Marian Gaborik is going to be out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. Looks like Tim Kennedy's stay in Hartford is going to be a short one.

The Sabres aren't the only team having trouble at home. The Penguins got their first win in Consol Energy Center after three losses with a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Islanders. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Lindy furious with his players' conduct

Lindy Ruff has had it. He benched Tim Connolly for most of the third period of tonight's 2-1 loss to Montreal. The Sabres' coach then said he'd go down to 2 1/2 lines Saturday in Chicago if players aren't competing for ice time. Here are his comments.

---John Vogl

Three stars

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

Butler, Miller in against Habs

The Sabres have completed their optional morning skate, and defenseman Chris Butler will replace injured Shaone Morrisonn in the lineup tonight when Montreal visits HSBC Arena.

"I think I've got a good opportunity, and I'm focused on making the best of it," Butler said today.

Ryan Miller will start the season with his fifth straight appearance in the Buffalo goal. Tonight is the 40th anniversary of the Sabres' first home game, played Oct. 15, 1970. Here is a clip from The Buffalo Evening News recapping the game, penned by Hockey Hall of Fame honoree Dick Johnston.

---John Vogl

Hawks' Kane out tonight, questionable for Saturday

The Sabres might not see South Buffalo native Patrick Kane when they play their return engagement against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night in the United Center. Kane was ill and missed practice Thursday, and he did not make the trip to Columbus for tonight's game against the Blue Jackets. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Hawks will likely call someone up from the minor leagues to replace him.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Buffalo Evening News clip from Sabres' debut on Oct. 15, 1970

Sabres debut 

Click on it for a bigger view!

Morrisonn out for the weekend

Sabres defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, who suffered a groin injury Wednesday late in the the 1-0 overtime loss to New Jersey, skipped practice today and will miss Friday's home game against Montreal and Saturday's road game in Chicago.

"He’s just got a groin injury, and he’ll miss tomorrow," coach Lindy Ruff said today. "I would assume if he misses tomorrow, he won’t be ready for Saturday. It’s going to be a little bit of time."

Either Chris Butler or Mike Weber will replace Morrisonn in the lineup. Ruff refused to say which blue-liner would move in, but early signs point to Butler.

---John Vogl

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Vote for the three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. cap-strapped Kovalchuks

OK, OK. I know. The Sabres are playing the Devils tonight in HSBC. All 16 of the Devils, who continue to make a mockery of the league (my words AND Derian Hatcher's) by being unable to field a full team due to the salary cap. First-year coach John MacLean -- who threw his team off the ice at today's morning skate -- refuses to use that as an excuse for his 0-2-1 club.

I did not see MacLean's blowup. I was in the press room doing a Sabres blog post and heard the Devils leaving the ice, so I headed to the hallway by their dressing room door. The players walked by en masse and many were smiling and laughing. Hardly the reaction I would think MacLean wanted. We went in the dressing room for the next 10 minutes (talking to Henrik Tallinder and Adam Mair) and the interviews were cut short as Hall of Famer and assistant coach Larry Robinson pulled them all into a small office for another chat, termed as for the penalty killers. Uh-huh.

Maybe Robinson was reminding them about all the fans they have back in bucolic Newark. Maybe giving them a little of this:

Whatever. Jokes aside, the Devils have a serious situation going. They're 0-2-1 and their 14 goals against are the most in the league. Martin Brodeur has a 4.11 GAA and .859 save percentage (although Ryan Miller has hardly been a world-beater at 3.40 and .880).

Anton Volchenkov (nose) and Brian Rolston are out tonight, with Rolston heading into a four- to six-week absence for surgery on a sports hernia. Looks like they'll be able to get their desperately needed cap relief by putting him on longterm IR. And the man causing a lot of this trouble, $102 million winger Ilya Kovalchuk, has no goals and is minus-three thus far.

Let's just say this is a game you have to feel the Sabres need. They've never lost their first three home games under Lindy Ruff (it hasn't happened since 1993). In fact, they had not dropped their first two at home under Ruff (hadn't happened since the arena's 1996 inaugural under Ted Nolan). No crisis here yet. Emphasis on yet. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

OVERTIME

9:22 p.m.: The puck is dropped

4:07 left: Kovalchuk wins it with a bomb off the post on a Matt Taormina feed. Horrible play in the zone by Sekera, who might be watching from the press box on Friday. Terrible 1-0 loss.

Third Period

16:00 left: Was wrapping up some print edition duties but you didn't miss anything. Still scoreless. Two shots for the Devils thus far. Nice music choice here: "One is the Loneliest Number."

13:49 left: Out of town, old friend Clarke MacArthur has his fourth goal in three games and the Leafs have a 4-2 lead at Pittsburgh on the way to a 3-0 start.

12:10 left: Miller stops Patrik Elias on a partial breakaway. It's the Devils who have found their legs. Shots are 4-0. Yep, nearly eight minutes without a shot for Buffalo.

10:28 left: Another huge cheer as Roy gets Buffalo's first shot of this period, an easy save that Brodeur holds on to. It's 5-1 for Devils in this period, and 31-17 for the game.

5:53 left: Couple good chances for the Sabres. Morrisonn just wide from the slot and Ennis stopped by Brodeur. Does it seem like these teams are just doing nothing dangerously so they get at least one point? It's a long time to drag that out. Attendance is announced as a sellout of 18,690. Pretty legit tonight. Almost no empties in the 300s.

5:10 left: Miller stops Langenbrunner from in tight after Niedermayer is outworked behind the net by Arnott, who pushed the puck in front. 

21.0 left: With almost no whistles for four minutes, the action really heated up. Couple strong saves by Brodeur and Miller keeps the scoreless  tie by robbing Zubrus at the tail end of what started as a 3-on-1. That can't happen in the final 30 seconds.

We go to OT: Shots were 8-8 in the third and it's 34-24 for the Devils. First OT for the Sabres. Devils are 0-1, losing their opener to Dallas.

Second Period

Of note: Scorers have taken away the Myers shot on goal and changed the first-period count to 15-1. Must have looked at a replay and determined it was going wide? Did it not get through? Didn't see a replay but it clearly looked like it was a pad save and you heard the thud? Hmmm. Update: The ruling was that the shot hit Vanek in the leg and never got through. 

18:26 left: Myers loses the puck at the blue line to cause an offside. The point men have simply not been strong enough on the PP. Stafford had a shot 36 seconds into the period to draw more Bronx cheers -- and equal the first period total.

16:02 left: Brodeur's best save as Roy curls around Andy Greene and gets in alone. One of the few times you've seen some real chug in the legs of a Sabres forward. The Devils only have three lines. Shouldn't the Sabres' strategy be to skate them out of the building and wear them down? 

12:52 left: Finally seeing some skating here. Fourth line had a good shift at the start before getting hemmed in and needing Miller to bail them out. Grier outskated Tallinder in the Devils' end and Montador fired wide on a good drop pass. Brodeur just made another shot on the Sabres' seventh of the period. (Devils have four).

9:00 left: Gotta hand it to Puddy's Devils. Even with skill guys like Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, they play some deadly boring hockey. Maybe that's why they've been 0-2-1 so far -- too wide open. They've got it tightened back up tonight. Sabres have a 9-5 edge in shots in this period. Good thing for the folks here this was only a Value game. Not much bang for their few bucks.

7:05 left: Fourth line has good pressure but Kaleta takes a bad interference penalty in the offensive zone by dumping Jamie Langenbrunner. Excellent shift by McCormick, who again used his size to work down low and got a good shot off that Brodeur had to stop.

6:20 left: Miller stops Jason Arnott's hot one-timer up in the neck area. He's a little stunned by that one.

2:21 left: It's definitely opening up. Probably plays more to the Sabres advantage. Shots are 13-10 for Buffalo in this period.

1:05 left: Brodeur stops Vanek on a slapper from the right wing and then from the circle right off the faceoff. Sabres have 15 shots this period.

End-2nd: It's zip-zip through 40 minutes. Shots were 15-11 for the Sabres and 26-16 for the Devils. You know how sometimes a low-scoring game can have riveting action? This is not one of them.


First Period

Of note: Three ex-Sabres in the Devils' starting lineup. Adam Mair, making his New Jersey debut, is at center and Dainius Zubrus is at left wing (David Clarkson on the right). And old friend Henrik Tallinder is on defense. The Sabres are going with Stafford-Roy-Hecht, with Leopold-Montador on defense.

More alumni news: The Rangers have just sent Tim Kennedy to Hartford of the AHL in order to make room on the roster for Chris Drury. Guess that arbitration decision worked out well for the South Buffalo kid, huh? Shoulda taken the deal, Timmy. Shoulda taken the deal.

The gold "Pominville Population" sign that hangs nightly above Section 312 and counts up No. 29's goal total is in its usual spot. Next to it instead of a number, however, is a white banner that says simply, "Get Well Soon".

19:03 left: Montador goes for delay of game for a puck-over-glass violation. Yeesh.

17:00 left: terrific kill by Hecht, Connolly, Grier among others. Devils never got set up until final 30 seconds and Miller made just one save. Kovys, however, have first five shots of the game.

13:22 left: Sabres doing very little in the Devils' zone. Still no shots on goal against the team with the worst defense in the league thus far (14 goals in three games). Pretty funny to look at the Devils' bench and see all the players spread out and comfy, compared to what looks like a tight fit on the Buffalo side. That's what happens when you play this short-handed. 

12:44 left: Sekera cranks one off the post past a beaten Brodeur.  Still no shots.

11:20 left: Big hit in the corner on Mark Fraser lands Kaleta in the box for charging. McCormick was with him. 

9:10 left: Another penalty over after Miller robbed Clarkson from just to the right of the crease. Great stretch of the leg. Shots are 9-0. As in more than half a period gone with no offense.

8:05 left: This is '09-10 Miller goaltending. He just robbed Travis Zajac after a brutal Hecht giveaway on a blind pass to the slot and then stopped our man Kovalchuk from in tight. It's 12-0 on the shot clock. Yes, 12-0. Brodeur must be wondering if he's got a full team in front of him!

7:42 left: McCormick understands situations. He just went toe-to-toe with Fraser and got it going with a huge left. Fraser came back and won the second half of the bout with a few rights but that at least got the crowd back into this one.

5:32 left: Sabres finally get a break as Clarkson goes for goalie interference. The way the 2-for-15 power play has been thus far, we'll see how big a break it really turns out to be. Shots are 14-0. Almost Bills-like.

The lines tonight without Pominville are Stafford-Roy-Hecht, Ennis-Connolly-Vanek, Grier-Niedermayer-Gerbe and Gaustad-McCormick-Kaleta. Same defense pairs: Leopold-Montador, Morrisonn-Myers and Sekera-Rivet.

3:42 left: Gerbe gets the first shot, a 10-footer from nearly on the goal line to Brodeur's left -- and the crowd lets out a huge Bronx cheer. The power play was downright silly. Connolly continues to give the puck away at the point and guys are consistently outworked for it along the wall. Nice tip by Vanek goes wide and no other real chances.

24.9 seconds left: Classic Kaleta-drawn penalty as he pounds Travis Zajac right in front of Rob Ray and then Zajac gets the roughing call on retaliation.

End-1st: With the crowd roaring -- basically begging -- the Sabres to shoot, Myers does and Brodeur makes a solid pad save in the final 20 seconds. So we're scoreless through one and the shots are 15-2. The Sabres' passing has been sloppy, they've accomplished nothing on their forecheck and simply aren't skating anywhere close to the way they did against Chicago. Brodeur has been terrible thus far this season and they haven't challenged him at all. Chalk this one up to Miller and come out better in the second. Yikes.

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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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