Greetings from HSBC Arena as the suddenly surging Sabres (3-0-1 in their last four) meet the even-hotter Vancouver Canucks (8-1-0 in their last nine). Before we get to some game background and the warmups, a piece of news: Thomas Vanek's wife, Ashley, had twin boys via Caesarean today at noon. That's a full line of three boys now to join 3-year-old Blake.
According to Vanek's personal web site, Luka Robert weighs in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces and 20 inches. Kade Ashton is 5 pounds, 12 1/2 ounces and 18 1/2 inches. Vanek was not on the ice for today's optional morning skate but will be in the lineup tonight. The Sabres need him too against one of the NHL's most explosive teams.
The Canucks are on quite the tour of the Eastern US and Canada. They opened the trip with a 2-0 loss at Montreal but posted wins at Ottawa (6-2) and Toronto (5-3). They took Sunday off, with most of the players attending the Bills-Lions game, and finish the trip Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Sabres are 0-3 thus far against the West this year and here's my favorite West stat of the season thus far: The teams that enter tonight 1-5 in the West (LA, Detroit, Vancouver, Anaheim and St. Louis) are a combined 34-2-4 at home. Yes, 34-2-4. That's how you get the job done. Sabres, take note.
Just noticed a new sign is posted above Section 304 by season-ticket holder Jessica LaPoint, the author of "Fans Show Up...Why Don't You?" that's been displayed the last two games and got plenty of pub, both print and broadcast, across North America. Tonight's sign says simply, "Thank You! Keep Showing Up." She should keep coming up with thoughts of the night. She'll be the 40th anniversary version of "Taro Sez", the memorable quips on the facing of the balcony in the Aud that were a spoof of what might have been said by fictional Sabres draftee Taro Tsujimoto.
Keep it here all night for your live updates.
4:20 Left: Sabres kill it off.
22.2: MYERS WINS IT. BEST OVERTIME EVER. 7-2 SHOTS FOR BUFFALO OODLES OF CHANCES. All alone in front. Craziness. Final shots were 39-39.
Did you really want me to be typing during all that? Sorry, no chance. Not tonight. Up and down action. Almost no whistles. Great play by Vanek to bother Hamhuis from behind. Great shot by Myers. Sabres 4-0-1 in their last five -- all in overtime. Five straight in OT is a franchise record.
Of note: Leopold and Montador are plus-3. Vanek, Roy and Ennis are plus-2. The Sedins are minus-2. Vanek has six shots on goal. The Sedins have five each. Raffi Torres came into this game with seven goals but he's been invisible. Minus-1 and only played 8:16. Playing about as well as he did here last spring, which means he's been terrible. Still want to know how Dan Hamhuis suddenly became Nicklas Lidstrom during the free agency period. He's played 13:30 and you don't even notice him. And they gave him six years and $27 million? Crazy. The Canucks have won 30 of 47 faceoffs and Roy is just 1-10.
8:55 p.m.: We're under way.
15:31 left: Sabres keeping Canucks to the outside quite well but Myers takes a cross-checking penalty to give the visitors a chance to get back in contention. Retaliation.
15:12 left: Can't give this power play those chances. Henrik Sedin feeds Alexander Edler at the point and his laser beats Miller clean off the post to make it 3-2. Sedins have two points each and Canucks are 2 for 4 on the PP.
14:02 left: Not far from another Niklas Hjalmarsson play as Bieksa drills Pominville in the back. This time, luckily, Pominville doesn't hit the boards. Bieksa gone for two.
11:30 left: Eagle-eyed Bob Matuszak of the AP notes Patrick Kaleta is not on the bench. And a check of the shift chart shows he hasn't been on the ice since the middle of the second period. And now the Sabres come in with the report of an upper-body injury to Kaleta and he will not return. Shots are 6-5 for the Sabres in this period.
10:39 left: Disaster. Montador and Leopold, who were having a great night, blow coverage and Samuelsson has a tap-in to tie the game at 3-3. Great pass from Henrik Sedin, who has assisted on all three goals.
8:20 left: Schneider stops Ennis in front on a great Vanek feed after the Sedins had the Sabres hemmed in for an entire shift.
5:58 left: There's Torres. Wipes out Myers. Sabres lucky nothing developed there.
4:44 left: Vanek, Roy and Ennis nearly connect but Kesler wipes out the net and crashes into the post. Looks like he got metal to the mush. Up slowly.
2:43 left: Still 3-3. Shots are 12-7 for the Canucks, who have had a big edge most of this period.
1:21 left: Holy moly. McCormick for boarding behind the Canucks net. Seemed like a pretty obvious call on Malhotra.
On to OT -- for the fifth straight time. Excellent job by the Sabres on that PK so far. No shots for the Canucks. They'll have 39 seconds of 4-on-3 to start overtime. Shots are 37-32 for Vancouver.
7:59 left: The puck is dropped.
14:00 left: Much of the skating has stopped in this period. Much tighter. Good job by the Sabres to slow the Canucks down. Shots are 2-1 for Vancouver in the period.
13:43 left: Hecht for slashing the stick out of Andrew Alberts' hands behind the Canucks' net.
12:42 left: The Sedins are definitely magicians. Henrik was just wide on two great chances but Daniel doesn't miss on a slapper from the right circle. Looked like Miller never moved with a screen in front of him (Morrisonn?) Sabres never got the puck out after the Hecht penalty and they had a couple chances. Daniel's 12th. Sabres lead 2-1.
10:17 left: A "Go Canucks Go" chant. Not as strong as "Go Leafs Go" but definitely jarring. After all, this team plays 3,000 miles away. And they're playing better the last few minutes. Shots just 4-2 for Vancouver but the visitors are definitely buzzing.
8:06 left: Shots are 6-2 for Vancouver. Sabres not doing much. Vanek had five shots in the first. Haven't noticed him in this period.
6:35 left: Vanek makes Bieksa look silly with a similar move as the OT winner Saturday but doesn't shoot. Gets the puck back. Doesn't shoot. It goes to Roy, who feeds Montador at the point and he shoots. Bullseye! Montador's third and second in two games. Sabres lead, 3-1. Leopold and Montador are both plus-3 tonight. Montador now leads the NHL at plus-14.
4:58 left: Aaron Rome goes for interference for plowing over Vanek in the Canucks' crease.
3:30 left: Roy-Pominville-Connolly all over the Canucks. Connolly robbed point blank by Schneider.
2:56 left: Another call on the Canucks. Alexander Edler for tripping.
End-2nd: Sabres lead 3-1 through two. Shots were 11-10 for Buffalo and it's 25-24 for the Canucks.
Sabres starters: McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier-Leopold-Montador. Goal: Miller
Canucks starters: Raymond-Kesler-Samuelsson-Bieksa-Edler. Goal: Schneider (no Luongo).
16:33 left: Niedermayer for high sticking, a few seconds after Ellis appeared to clip Bieksa but wasn't called. Just can't give this power play chances with penalties like that in the offensive zone.
15:26 left: The Sabres ran all four lines in the first three minutes. It's McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier, Hecht-Connolly-Pominville, Ennis-Roy-Vanek and Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta. Defense pairs also stay the same: Leopold-Montador, Sekera-Myers, Morrisonn-Butler.
14:20 left: One shot on the Vancouver PP. More solid work by the Buffalo penalty killers, who are 17 of their last 18. Shots are 4-0 for the Canucks.
13:22 left: Miller spears Samuelsson's slapper as the winger broke down the right side with plenty of room to work. Miller's fifth save. Basically no offense for Sabres so far.
Lots of Canucks fans in the house, like there have been for them on this trip in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. There's even four guys in blue Canucks jerseys bouncing a Canadian flag and Canucks banner in the first row behind Rob Ray between the benches. Hey season tix holder: Bet you made a pretty profit on that deal. This one is a sellout, by the way. A Value game so the 300 level is packed. Empties in the 100s and 200s.
11:38 left: Sabres take the 1-0 lead as Ennis taps it home from in front on a Roy feed after some awesome forechecking by Vanek in the left corner. It was on Buffalo's first shot of the game after the Canucks had nine! A dribbler through Schneider. He's got to make that save when his team has dominated for eight-plus minutes.
10:10 left: The Sedins nearly convert a highlight-reel 2-on-1 but Niedermayer with some great backchecking helps break up the play with the net pretty empty.
9:44 left: During a TV timeout, it's scoreboard blooper time. Borrowing the other half of the title, this is a nightly blunder.
8:49 left: After Miller made his best save from in front on Manny Malhotra, Schneider redeemed himself a few seconds later by robbing Vanek.
7:15 left: Great shift by the Gaustad line ends with a crunching hit from Kaleta on Rick Rypien, he of the attack on the Minnesota fan. Rypien follows Kaleta all the way across the ice to the bench but Kaleta simply skates off.
6:27 left: Buffalo nailed for too many men on the ice. Shots are 10-4 at the start of this power play.
6:13 left: So much for that power play. Daniel Sedin gone for slashing. Stupid penalty. Dude lumberjacked the stick out of Roy's hands in the Buffalo zone. No reason for it.
5:13 left: Good work by the Sabres on the 4-on-4, especially Sekera, creates a hooking penalty on Burrows. So it's a 4-on-3 power play for the Sabres.
4:04 left: Sabres held the puck wisely until Vanek returned from the penalty, giving them a two-man edge for 14 seconds. And Vanek had two great chances that Schneider stopped. Still 51 seconds left on th Burrows penalty.
3:09 left: Schneider stops Roy, play called by hand pass. Sabres have the last five shots and it's 12-9 in that department. Remember, it was 9-0.
2:58 left: The Sabres make it 2-0 as Niedermayer, who's having his best game at home by a mile feeds McCormick. The first shot was stopped but McCormick backhanded it back into Schneider and the goalie flubbed it right into the net, failing to pull it out before it went over the line.
End-1st: A wild final minute with both teams having great chances, topped by two more from Vanek that were turned away by Schneider. Shots were 15-13 for the Canucks, who had the last two after the Sabres pulled even. Solid final 12 minutes taking advantage of the backup goaltender, who has been terrific until tonight for the Canucks.