Happy Black Friday from a non-shopper high atop HSBC Arena as we get set for the battle for 11th place in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the Northeast Division, aka the second meeting of the year between the Sabres and Leafs.
Ryan Miller will be back in goal and that's all fine and well but this team has to score. One goal the last two games doesn't cut it. Miller said this morning "that's not the norm for this team" but we'll have to see.
Lots of action this afternoon, including the Isles snapping their 14-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over the woeful Devils, Carolina's 3-0 win in Boston and Pittsburgh's wildly entertaining 2-1 win over Ottawa (shots were 44-40 for the Senators and Marc-Andre Fluery followed up his shutout here Wednesday with 43 more saves!). The Sabres are in Montreal tomorrow night but there will be no disadvantage with the back-to-back becase the Canadiens are in Atlanta tonight. The Thrashers are currently eighth in the East with 23 points (the Sabres and Leafs are tied with 19).
There are a TON of Leafs fans here as you would imagine. And the large Sabres' flag that gets passed around over the heads of the fans in the 100 level just got held up and scrunched up in Section 102 by some of those blue-clad scoundrels before some Sabres fans came to the rescue. And there were HUGE renditions of "O, Canada" in the crowd.
No sellout by the way. Thank platinum pricing. Lots of empties up top.
Sabres starters: Stuart-Hecht-Pominville-Myers-Sekera. Goal: Miller
Leafs starters: MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin-Schenn-Kaberle. Goal: Gustavsson
9:22 p.m: Puck dropped with Leafs on PP.
18:40 left: Sabres with another kill.
17:42 left: Miller with a good pad save on Kessel. Miller moving well tonight, out to the top of the crease, sharp with the legs. Doesn't look hesitant at all in the wake of the injuries.
16:46 left: Miller stones old friend MacArthur from the edge of the crease to his right.
14:30 left: Miller stops Kessel streaking down the right wing -- and Kessel appeared to get Miller in the neck area on the way by. Show me a replay. Thank you, MSG and apologies to Kessel. It was an inadvertant stick to the mask by Leopold, who was skating with Kessel behind the net. Super camera work there.
10:33 left: Sekera for hooking. Maybe it was, maybe it was a dive. But there's no way that should be called by the ref standing on the center red line. He's 100 feet away.
9:02 left: Special teams the story of this night. Kaleta pots a short-handed goal, back-handing home a rebound of a Gaustad slapshot. Sabres lead 3-0 on their first shorty of the season. Toronto power play has been Laff-worthy tonight. Entered the game 3 for 36 on the road. Easy to see why.
4:53 left: Scrum in front and Francois Beauchemin chirps at Miller, who chirps back while Montador holds the Leaf off. Hip crowd chants "USA, USA." Orr goes for roughing.
3:27 left: Kessel breaks the shutout by potting his own rebound. Sort of. Miller made the save and puck was sent right back to Kessel by Leopold. That's a shorty for the Lears. Sabres lead 3-1. It was the Leafs' 33rd shot of the night.
2:08 left: Attendance is 18,004. Leafs have outshot Sabres, 29-12, in final two periods. Miller is the No. 1 star of this one.
1:20 left: Leafs' net is empty. Icing call on Buffalo puts faceoff in Sabres' end.
58.4 left: Leafs ice the puck. Monster has to go back in net. Sweet Caroline time. Guess there's some good times in being 9-12-3.
It's over: A solid 3-1 win. Final shots are 36-28 for Toronto.
8:34 p.m: We're under way.
19:02 left: The Hecht line pins the Leafs for the first 45 seconds. The Laff fans showed up en masse for the national anthem and the banner theft was crafty. Their team has been a complete no-show.
17:55 left: Big stop by Miller off slick rookie Nazem Kadri, who broke free in front. Kadri still looking for his first goal in his sixth game. Hey, has Clarke MacArthur been on the ice?
17:08 left: Vanek robbed again by Gustavsson off a great Ennis feed. Vanek's fourth shot of the game. Just noticed Pominville had five shots -- five! -- in the first period. He's got to start putting the puck in the net. Shots are 21-8 for Buffalo in this one.
15:11 left: Grier goes for hooking.
9:26 left: Leafs playing much better. Grabovski has been particularly good but he just shot wide from alone in front after Kaberle got through three Sabre inside the zone.
7:25 left: Big save by Miller on Kulemin, who stole the puck from leopold at the Buffalo line. We haven't had a whistle in a lonnnnnnnnnnnng time.
6:56 left: I had to open my mouth. Weber back to the box for the third time for holding, when he dragged down MacArthur. We've played 13 minutes of the period in just 17 minutes of real time. Shots are 9-5 for the Leafs.
In the crowd and on the HD board: Henry Winkler of Happy Days and Cindy Morgan from Caddyshack. They started the "Celebrity Lookalike" feature and put a picture of the Fonz on the board. Then cut to the real Winkler. Tricksters. The pair is here for the World's Largest Disco (kudos to Vogl for that note. I woulda had no clue).
4:50 left: Leafs 0 for 4 on the PP tonight and 0 for their last 32 against Buffalo.
3:23 left: Gaustad, he of one goal in 36 games, nearly tips one by Gustavsson reaching with one hand for an Ennis feed.
1:56 left: Ron Wilson certainly got on his team during the first intermission. They've been way more committed in this period. Shots are 12-5 for Toronto but Miller holding firm. Stupid blooper video time.
58.9 left: Grier to the box again for tripping. At some point, the Leafs' PP has to break through, right?
End-2nd: Sabres still lead 2-0 but almost a complete turnaround in shots. It was 15-5 for Toronto -- including the last 12. Sabres didn't have one for final 16 minutes.
18:05 left: Gaustad goes for boarding. Pretty dangerous hit from behind on Kessel.
16:50 left: Say what you want about their fan base but the Leafs contingent give this place a buzz it just doesn't have any other night. The rink is alive tonight.
16:00 left: That's the 29th straight penalty the Sabres have killed against Toronto, dating to March 27, 2009.
15:46 left: Kaleta drills Kulemin and Luke Schenn challenges him. Kaleta obliges and they go. Schenn ends up on top but Kaleta gives it the "raise the roof" gesture going to the box and the crowd responds. That might be the best rock-em-sock-em bout of Kaleta's career. A flurry of lefts from both. They both get five.
15:10 left: This is one onery game so far. Colton Orr just challenged Gaustad for the earlier hit and got a couple good shots from behind. Weber jumped in to stop it. Hmmm. Wonder if that's a third-man in. Or is it a fight if Gaustad is covering up? Update: Wow -- six-minute tripe minor to Orr and just two for Weber. Huge break for the Sabres.
13:55 left: Just a few seconds after Luke Adam whiffs on a wide-open net for his first NHL goal, Adam sets the screen as Jordan Leopold rifles one home to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead. That ends the Sabres' shutout streak at 121 minutes, 13 seconds. Leopold's sixth. He's third on the team. I don't know whether to say good for him or shame on the forwards. (The AP's Bob Matuszak points out the Sabres have scored on their first shot twice in the last three games. The other was Vanek's goal Saturday against Tampa).
13:39 left: The Gaustad hit on Kessel seems to have the Leafs running around and forgetting hockey. Now Kris Versteeg is gone for elbowling a punch to the face of Gerbe.
12:30 left: Roy has had three shots blocked on this 5-on-3 from the point. Gotta get them through.
12:10 left: Like I said, get them through. Vanek with a rifle from the left point for his ninth to tie Roy for the team lead. Adam gets an assist for his first NHL point. 2-0 Sabres
9:10 left: Not too many "Go Leafs Go" chants right now, eh? Shots are 7-3 for Buffalo. This is just the third game all season the Sabres have scored twice on the power play. And it took just under eight minutes for them to get there.
8:45 left: Weber goes for charging. Definite hit in the back. Undisciplined. He's way more aggressive than Rivet but he has to be under control too.
8:06 left: Grier wide on a short-handed breakaway after a great stand-up play and feed from Myers. Gotta hit the net there. Put it in and the Leafs are pondering timeouts, goaltending changes and close to total collapse.
6:39 left: That's 30 straight penalty kills against Toronto by the Sabres.
4:49 left: You have to wonder if Pominville is ever scoring again. Three chances from the doorstep in 16 seconds (thanx to JVogl for that count!).
4:10 left: Miller stops Kessel on a breakaway after Sekera lets the puck get right through him at the Buffalo line.
1:25 left: Vanek robbed all alone on the edge of the crease. Even had time for a deke too. Super shift by Adam, who kept the puck in at the line and found Vanek. Shots are 15-5 for the Sabres. Easily one of their best periods of the year.
End-1st: Big cheers for the Sabres, who lead 2-0 and have a 16-5 edge in shots.
taggedSabres game day