Greetings from high atop HSBC Arena as the Sabres get set to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning. If you missed the news that broke in the 6 p.m. hour -- and why weren't you here on this blog or with me on Twitter? -- Ryan Miller is out again with a lower body injury and is listed day to day. Patrick Lalime will start in goal and Jhonas Enroth will back up. Mike Smith is starting for the Lightning.
Great. Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in goals (19) and points (34) and is coming off a hat trick Thursday in Philly. He's got to like Lalime instead of Miller. Cheap Plug Department: Be sure to read more about Stamkos in my notebook in Sunday's paper.
This one is waaaay far away from behind a sellout or close to it. The Sabres were less than 300 shy last night. This might be the smallest crowd of the season. It's just tough on the wallet for lots of people to come two days in a row. Keep it here for all your updates.
Sabres starters: Leopold-Montador-Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. Goal: Lalime.
8:55 p.m.: We're under way.
18:00 left: Sabres don't score on the power play and Smith has to make a good glove save on Kaleta after he Lalimed him the puck in the slot (albeit on the forehand). Nearly as brutal. Maybe it's something in the water at that end of the ice.
14:05 left: Myers just limped off the ice after a collision in the Buffalo zone.
13:07 left: Good save by Smith on Pominville. Shots are 5-1 for Buffalo. Lightning doesn't appear all that interested in generating much offense.
12:15 left: Myers is back on the ice.
11:05 left: Smith robs Gerbe from the slot and Kaleta just fails to get a hold of the rebound.
9:40 left: Smith again, stopping a Connolly backhand from in tight. Shots are 8-1. Smith is 1-3-1, 3.58, .886 in his career against Buffalo. The Sabres usually have pretty good success against him as those numbers show. Easily his best showing against the Sabres.
1:30 left: Sabres trying to get even, Lightning holding on.
23.1 left: Faceoff in Tampa zone. Officials have put the whistles away. Crowd howling as several trips go uncalled. Shots are 11-3 for Buffalo in the period.
It's over: A 2-1 loss. Shots are 30-22. Goaltending the difference.
8:03 pm.: We're under way.
19:00 left: Smith with a good stop on Gaustad on a partial break out of the box. Sabres did a good job on the kill. No problems.
17:26 left: Good answer by Connolly gives the Sabres a 2-1 lead. He takes a rebound out of mid-air and bounces it home after Smith robbed Pominville from in front on a one-timer off a neat Hecht feed. NOPE. No goal. Replay shows Pominville whacked it with his glove off Smith's pad and that's where Connolly knocked it in from. Seems like a good call. Score remains 1-1.
15:52 left: Nice stop by Lalime on another Purcell tip-in on the backhand. A few seconds after Malone put one off the post to Lalime's right.
12:49 left: Stamkos goes for interference on Kaleta at center ice.
8:34 left: Just a terrible, terrible goal allowed by Lalime. Goes to routinely sweep the puck to his left with one hand and sends it right to Adam Hall. Makes one save but Hall easily pushes the rebound past him. Bolts lead, 2-1. Unassisted. Or should I say assist to Lalime.
5:37 left: Shots are 8-7 for the Sabres and Lalime's brutal mistake has taken the life out of the building. He got a few Bronx cheers the last time he touched the puck. Nothing like the crushing he took when he made a similar misplay last year against Minnesota but still. That was awful.
4:39 left: Gaustad goes for tripping. Bad giveaway by Myers left Gaustad no choice.
35.2 left: Moore goes for holding the stick, putting Buffalo back on the power play. I'd give you more updates, trust me, if something was happening.
End-2nd: Tampa leads it 2-1. Shots were 11-9 for Buffalo and it's 19-18 for the Lightning through two.
17:23 left: Sabres are matching Hecht-Connolly-Pominville-Sekera-Myers vs. the Downie-Stamkos-St. Louis line. Hecht has taken both faceoffs.
16:50 left: Lightning have the only two shots. Lalime makes routine glove stop on Stamkos.
15:08 left: A Thomas Vanek scorned is never good for the opposition. Vanek gets leveled by Mattias Ohlund at center ice, gets up and carries a loose puck down the right wing -- firing a bolt past Smith to get the Sabres a 1-0 lead. Took a teeth-chattering hit and simply got up made the opponent pay. Wow. Sabres lead, 1-0, on their first shot on Mike Smith. Vanek with a cut lip too. His 17th goal in 21 career games vs. Tampa.
10:30 left: Smith stops Connolly from in front.
9:49 left: Stupid scoreboard blooper time. Shots are 3-2 for the Sabres.
9:32 left: Vanek goes for hooking in the Tampa zone. Didn't seem like a whole lot.
7:25 left: Vanek stopped on breakaway out of the box by Smith right after Lalime made two solid stops, including one on Stamkos. Looked like the Vanek shot actually hit the post and not Smith's pad.
5:06 left: No changes in the lines again. It's Ennis-Roy-Vanek, Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier and Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. Defense pairs remain Sekera-Myers, Leopold-Montador and Morrisonn-Rivet.
4:27 left: Lalime squares up nicely to swallow up an unscreened slap shot from the right point by Victor Hedman. What a sensational cross-ice pass from Stamkos to get the puck there.
3:40 left: Gaustad and Dominic Moore hook up at the Tampa line and get roughing penalties. Maybe Gaustad was telling Moore he was a joke here after he got acquired at the trade deadline two years ago.
1:50 left: Tampa ties it at 1-1 courtesy of a nice turnover from Connolly inside the Tampa line. Ryan Malone strips him and gets the puck into the Buffalo zone. Eventually, Teddy Purcell scores on a nice tip-in after a good feed in front from Randy Jones. No chance for Lalime.
1:07 left: Gaustad goes for unsportsmanlike conduct. He drops his gloves and gets set to go with Steve Downie, who just ducks his head and does nothing. Nice move if you can pull it off. Gaustad backs off and goes to the box. Downie is normally more than willing to go; he leads the Lightning with 66 penalty minutes.
1.9 left: The Sabres fail to clear and Lalime has to make a nifty glove grab on Downie to keep it tied.
End-1st: It's 1-1. Shots are 10-7 for Tampa Bay.