Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres get set to meet the Los Angeles Kings. It's become a sad day for hockey fans as word broke tonight at 6:30 that former NHL coach Pat Burns has died after his long bout with cancer. Memo to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee: Shame on you. You really blew this one. What purpose did it serve to not induct Burns this year? The top name this year was Dino Ciccarelli for God's sake. Yeeesh. Here's a terrific obit on Burns from Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger, the longtime Devils beat writer who was in Burns' office in 2003 after the coach got his long-awaited Stanley Cup victory.
As for news from the warmup, Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe are both on the ice, meaning the Sabres still haven't decided if Kaleta is playing tonight. Jonathan Bernier led the Kings out, as expected, and will get the start in goal. Update: Looks like Kaleta and Gerbe will both be in the lineup. Don't see Matt Ellis on the ice.
And it's official: The Sabres' scratches are Ellis, Chris Butler and Mike Weber.
Keep it here all night for your updates from the arena.
9:24 p.m.: Lo and behold, the second goal has now been changed to Vanek. His seventh.
9:25 p.m: New addition to the inventory at the Sabres Store just brought for a look by information guru Kevin Snow: The Sabres' slick 40th anniversary yearbook. Super collection of full-page color photos of every player. It's $10. I still gotta get my 40th anniversary coffee table book. That's I think $39.95.
9:28 p.m.: We're under way.
18:48 left: Ryan Smyth for holding in the offensive zone. Sabres back to the power play.
17:50 left: Another PP goal. Pominville's shot leaks through Bernier and Connolly breaks his 0-for-November by tapping it home. Sabres lead, 3-2. That's 2 for 4 on the PP against the NHL's No. 1 PK. Just the second game this year with two power-play goals (the other was the Oct. 26 loss at Philadelphia).
12:47 left: Bernier stops Sekera and Myers just misses the rebound. Sabres doing a great job of puck possession in this period. Shots are 4-0 for Buffalo. And Johnson is going for cross checking Gaustad. Can they really come up with three power play goals in one game?
11:42 left: Great save by Bernier on a Roy tip.
10:44 left: Great save on Vanek in front just as the penalty ends. Shots are 7-0 for Buffalo.
10:30 left: Leopold and McCormick (rebound) are stopped. That's 9-0.
9:50 left: Miller makes a solid save on Williams on the Kings' first shot.
8:54 left: Gaustad goes hard to the net, doesn't get the puck but draws a hooking penalty on Dwight King. Sabres 2 for 5 on the PP and here's another chance.
4:43 left: Hecht nearly pickpockets Bernier behind the net. The goalie holds for a faceoff. Shots are 10-3 for Buffalo. A terrific period so far with a game up for grabs. Outplaying a solid team for the final 40 minutes just like Wednesday in Washington. Gotta start better. Attendance is 18,418, less than 300 from a sellout.
4:39 left: Hecht with a one-time rifle from the slot. His second of the year. Great feed off the boards from Pominville. Like i said, super period. Sabres lead, 4-2.
1:30 left: This would be the Sabres' first regulation win since Oct. 23 at New Jersey. That's 12 games ago.
It's over: A 4-2 win after a solid final 20 minutes. Final shots were 36-26 for LA, but 12-9 for Buffalo in the third.
8:32 p.m.: We're under way.
19:23 left: That's how you start a period. The Gaustad-Kaleta-Gerbe line gets some pressure as Sekera brings it in from the left point and Kaleta tips his shot from the circle past Bernier. Game tied at 1-1 on Kaleta's second,
18:38 left: Connolly goes for hooking. Actually, it's Hecht but Connolly's No. 19 is on the board. In Marv Levy-speak, this game has been pretty overofficious.
16:07 left: Another penalty killed. Good shot block by Sekera, among others. Shots are 5-2 for the Kings and 17-8 overall.
15:14 left: More great work by Gerbe and Kaleta and Bernier has to make a sensational right pad stretch save on Gaustad alone in front to keep the game tied.
15:00 left: McCormick and Matt Greene go for roughing. McCormick was set to go and had shed the stick and gloves but the linesmen stepped in. Crowd boos.
14:08 left: Doughty hobbles off after taking a bomb from Connolly on the ankle. That would be a huge loss for the Kings.
13:40 left: Great save by Miller on a one-timer from Justin Williams.
12:53 left: McCormick gets his man right out of the box this time, pounding down Greene. They're both going to get five and the crowd loved it.
11:35 left: Wayne Simmonds beats Miller from the slot to make it 2-1 as the Sabres overskate the puck leaving the zone, notably Ennis, and Rivet might have screened his goalie on the shot from the slot. That's a big, fat minus-2 for Rivet.
11:17 left: More trouble. A tripping call on Connolly behind the Kings' net.
9:49 left: Sabres holding on with the PK. Close call as Jack Johnson's shot dribbled out of Miller's glove and went just wide. As JVogl wrote the other night in Washington, Miller's glove hand has been noticeably off this year compared to last.
9:25 left: Nothing wrong with Miller's reflexes however. Great save on a neat tip from the slot by Simmonds. Shots are 10-4 in this period and 22-10 for the Kings.
5:55 left: Myers and Sekera play with the puck in front of Miller and the goalie eventually has to make a good save from the point. Connolly, meanwhile, keeps firing pucks into the first man to come at him, in the best spirit of Ales Kotalik. Wonder how long Ruff can keep defending the $4.5 million man who doesn't have a goal this month (and is in the middle of his 10th straight scoreless game). But to paraphrasea what the coach said recently, "he's got more points than a lot of guys." Uh-huh.
5:06 left: Johnson goes for elbowing. Kaleta lucky he didn't get a slashing call in retaliation.
4:38 left: The PP connects against the NHL's No. 1 PK. Vanek tips home Roy's shot from the point after Pominville, who is completely snakebit and stuck on one goal, misses two tips from in front. Vanek's seventh makes it 2-2.
4:22 left: Lineup shift update -- Kaleta with a goal and a penalty drawn that leads to a power-play goal. Rivet? Minus-2.
4:10 left: What might be the NHL's goofiest stat crew has awarded the goal to Roy. How about watching the players' reactions? Everyone saw Vanek tip it home. (By the way, we all doubt Kaleta touched the first one too but I digress).
1:10 left: Miller with the great save on Kopitar after Brown bowls over Sekera to get the puck in front.
End-2nd: It's 2-2 through 40 minutes. Shots were 15-8 for LA and it's 27-14 through two.
Sabres starters: McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier-Sekera-Myers. Goal: Miller
Kings starters: Brown-Kopitar-King-Scuderi-Doughty. Goal: Bernier.
Nice touch by the Sabres to hold a moment of silence in memory of Burns and Army Specialist Blake Whipple, the Amherst native who was killed recently in Afghanistan and was buried on Monday.
18:05 left: Maybe the food poisoning is still bothering Rivet. On his first shift, he hooks Brad Richardson at center ice as Richardson was blowing by him and is gone for hooking. Rivet simply has not speed or mobility left. A play like that sends a distinct message he's done.
16:00 left: Sabres kill the penalty with two shots on goal, including a good save by Miller on Jack Johnson.
15:35 left: Shots are 7-1 for LA.
15:03 left: The Kings take a 1-0 lead as Dustin Brown goes wide around Morrisonn and beats Miller with a blistering snap shot to the stick side. That makes shots 8-1. Solid start just like Wednesday in Washington, eh?
14:15 left: Big scrum develops between the benches and Gaustad goes with Kevin Westgarth. Pretty even until the end, when Westgarth got the upper hand. They both get five.
11:41 left: Doughty goes for hooking Vanek in the LA zone. Let's see if the Sabres wake up. We've seen this act before: After the Washington-Vancouver wins, the Sabres clearly felt like they were back. Now it's two straight games they haven't shown up at the start.
9:23 left: Blistering one-timers wide of the PP by Pominville and Sekera. Gotta hit the net. A few seconds after it ends, Ennis breaks through and is hooked down. Scuderi goes for hooking. Sabres back on the PP. Kings came into the game leading the league in PK at 90.1 percent -- including a perfect 35-for-35 at home.
7:21 left: Penalty over. Sabres 3 for 37 at home this year on the PP. Terrible passing. Not enough battles. And the final 30 seconds of the PP featured Ennis-Gerbe-McCormick with Rivet and Leopold at the point. On a power play? Seriously, Lindy?
3:53 left: Leopold goes for holding as this is one dead-as-a-doornail period. Shots are 10-6 for LA.
2:38 left: Myers goes on a ticky-tack interference call along the boards on Doughty. It was but that was a 2006 call. They gonna call that every time tonight.
1:08 left: Sabres survive the two-man (they had given up a league-high four goals on two-man disadvantages). Nice block by Morrisonn helped.
:40 left: The penalties are over. Solid job on the PK.
:00 left: The period is over. Not such a solid job. Shots are 12-6 for LA and the Kings hold their 1-0 lead as Vanek just missed a goalmouth pass from Ennis in the final two seconds. It came after Ennis made a great play to backcheck on Anze Kopitar as he was trying to break into the Buffalo zone. Let's see if the Sabres get some momentum in the second period from killing off the two-man penalty.
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