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Gerbe coming back, Kaleta out, Rivet just waiting

The Sabres are definitely making one roster change for Wednesday's game in Washington. Captain Craig Rivet is waiting for them to make another.

Left wing Nathan Gerbe, who has been out since suffering a fractured jaw Oct. 29, has been cleared to play and will be in the lineup against the Capitals. He will replace right wing Patrick Kaleta, who left Monday's 4-3 overtime victory against Vancouver with an upper-body injury. Kaleta is day-to-day.

The injury swap forces the hand of coach Lindy Ruff, who historically doesn't like tinkering with his roster when the team is hot. The Sabres finally are with a 4-0-1 record in the past five games.

Ruff's stance is tough on Rivet. The captain had food poisoning last week, but he said today he has been healthy enough to play.

"I've been good to go for a while," Rivet said. "I think any time you're not in the lineup you're disappointed, but it gives me an opportunity to work on some things.

"You know what? I don't disagree with what he's doing. When a team's hot and they're playing well and things are clicking, you need to stick with them. I think our team has played very well. We've played some very tough teams in the last couple games and played some good hockey, so we need to continue with the lineup that's winning games."

---John Vogl


Lindy Ruff

Tuesday morning papers

Here's a look around the NHL, starting right here in the B-lo with the team that's on a 4-0-1 run:

*The Sabres needed extra time for the fifth straight game Monday, and for the fourth time they celebrated at the conclusion. Tyler Myers' goal with 22.2 seconds left in OT gave the Sabres a 4-3 victory over Vancouver and moved them to 4-0-1 during the run of close affairs.

By accumulating nine of a possible 10 points over the last five games, the Sabres have moved from last place in the Eastern Conference to 10th, just one point out of the eighth-place playoff spot.

*Jerry Sullivan catches up with red-hot Derek Roy, who has points in five straight games and is trying to prove he is one of the NHL's top centers.

"I want to be an elite player in this league," Roy said. "I don't want to cruise through my career and just get 60, 70 points or whatever. I think that's a part of being a human being and growing up. Whatever you do in life, you want to be skilled at it. You want to be the best. I'm trying to approach it that way every day."

*Buffalo Sabres winger Thomas Vanek had a good excuse to skip the morning skate as his wife gave birth to twin boys at the noon hour Monday. A few hours later, he was skating all over the HSBC Arena rink in yet another solid performance.

*NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell is getting attention for a series of e-mails, including one that urges Stephen Walkom, then the director of officiating, to find out if a penalty against his son late in an untelevised game was called properly. In a subsequent e-mail, Campbell says he would have had to fine himself had he attended the game where his son was called for tripping - which he refers to as a "weak penalty" that "makes me sick."

Contacted by TSN for his reaction, Campbell said: "For me, it's much ado about nothing. Stephen and I would have banter back and forth, and Stephen knows I'm a [hockey] dad venting and both of us knowing it wouldn't go any further than that."

*Because the Islanders have dropped 10 games in a row in the final year of coach Scott Gordon's contract, it was hardly a surprise that Gordon was fired Monday.

---John Vogl

Three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Canucks

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. 

---Mike Harrington


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.  

Third Period

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.

Second Period

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.

First Period

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.

Morning skate report: No Luongo for Canucks

The Sedins are in town but if you're thinking you're going to see Roberto Luongo in goal tonight, think again. The Vancouver Canucks have completed their pregame skate in HSBC Arena and Cory Schneider -- who is 3-0 with an 0.90 GAA and .969 save percentage -- will continue the bizarre run of backup goaltenders the Sabres will see. 

(Just went over the game-by-games with WGR's Paul Hamilton and we've come up with 10 backup goalies against the Sabres in 19 games if Luongo doesn't go tonight. Ten!! The Sabres are 4-3-2 in the first nine)

Not much news from the Sabres camp other than Lindy Ruff saying captain Craig Rivet is "getting very close to playing" on the road back from food poisoning. Interesting dilemma there for sure once Rivet is ready.

The Canucks have not been here since Oct. 17, 2008 (a 5-2 Buffalo win). This will be the 109th meeting between the 1970 expansion cousins and the Sabres can even the all-time series with a win tonight as they are 44-45-19 against the Canucks.

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are tied (what else?) for fifth in the NHL with 20 points. Daniel has 11 goals while Henrik has just two. The Canucks are second in the NHL on the power play at 28.3 percent (Buffalo is 28th at 11.4). On the road, Vancouver is No. 1 at a whopping 32.4 percent (11 for 34).

'I thought we did a great job on [Washington's Alexander] Ovechkin last game," said Sabres center Derek Roy, who is one point back of the Sedins with 19. " Now we got the Sedin twins coming in. They have some firepower. We have to really check those guys close and keep an eye when they're on the ice."

"They know exactly where each other is going," said coach Lindy Ruff. "They're great passers, either forehand or backhand. They read off each other very well. Tremendous players. That continuity playing that period of time is something you can't teach in this league."

Ryan Kesler is second on the Canucks with nine goals and who's third? None other than ex-Sabre Raffi Torres, who flamed out here last year and was a scratch for the final two playoff games but has rebounded with seven goals in Vancouver.

---Mike Harrington

Sunday morning papers

As 16 of the Sabres take part in an optional skate inside HSBC Arena this morning, here's a look stories from around the NHL, starting right here in the B-lo:

*The fans have been trekking to the foot of Washington Street night after night this season waiting to be entertained. Finally, in the eighth home game of the year, Thomas Vanek and the Sabres delivered with a 3-2 overtime victory over Washington. His winner moved the Sabres to 3-0-1 in their last four games and 1-6-1 on home ice this season.

"We've been playing some exciting hockey -- if you've been a fan of the visiting team," Sabres defenseman Steve Montador said. "We had to get that first one to get us started at home, and we definitely want to build."

*There are garbage goals and there are superstar goals. Thomas Vanek had one of each Saturday night. He was more than satisfied by the first one but left everybody in HSBC Arena heading out into the night talking about the second one.

*Bucky Gleason caught up with Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn, who has no plans for major changes to his hockey department, such as firing Sabres coach Lindy Ruff or General Manager Darcy Regier. Quinn believed the Sabres could turn around their slow start with their current roster, but he also made it clear they wouldn't sit around if changes were in order.

"We're not going to fire Lindy," Quinn said. "Obviously, we're not where we want to be. The best way to get where we want to be, it's with Lindy. I don't think there's anybody else I would rather have doing that. One of the reasons I went down [to the arena] the other day is to take a temperature of the place. I don't think Lindy has lost any players or anything like that. We're not going to fire Lindy."

And Regier?

"I feel the same way about Darcy," Quinn said. "You're going to go through periods like this. The worst thing you can do is point fingers at each other and blame people. Sometimes, things you do don't work out in the short run. If we have to make changes, we'll make them. Darcy knows he can do that. In the meantime, Lindy feels he can turn this situation around."

*While the Sabres were winning their first home game, the Kings set a franchise record by improving to 8-0 in Los Angeles.

*The Montreal Canadiens are holding their breath that a new injury to top defenceman Andrei Markov's right leg is not too serious. Markov was helped off the ice at 14:50 of the third period of Montreal's 7-2 win over Carolina on Saturday night after a collision with Hurricanes' star Eric Staal. He appeared to injure his right knee — the same knee that needed surgery this summer after he hurt it during the playoffs.

---John Vogl

They said it after the Sabres' first home win

Here's some audio from the locker room after the Sabres' 3-2 overtime victory over Washington:

---Mike Harrington

Thomas Vanek

Ryan Miller

Lindy Ruff

Three Stars: Sabres 3, Capitals 2 (OT)

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Caps

Welcome to HSBC Arena and the continuing saga of Which Buffalo Team Will Win a Home Game First (minus Canisius edition). Tonight, the Sabres get yet another chance against the Washington Capitals. If they don't beat the East's top team, I fear they will lose the coveted title. Seriously now, the Bills HAVE to beat the Stafford-less Detroit Lions tomorrow, don't they? 

The Sabres are certainly a little better looking tonight than they have been. They're 2-0-1 in their last three and Ryan Miller will be back in goal. The Caps are going with rookie backup Braden Holtby -- who is 2-0 with a 1.70 GAA and .931 save percentage in his two games.

Crazy run of backups against the Sabres whether it's injury (Brodeur), illness (Lundqvist) or opposing coaches simply not respecting this offense. At some point, the Sabres need to fire up seven goals against one of these guys (like they did in that 6-1 win over Jersey's Johan Hedberg last month).  Of course, that would require Thomas Vanek to actually shoot the puck too. I still hate the thought that it was a good pass to Derek Roy in overtime. I don't want my $6.4 million man passing from the slot in overtime EVER. And I don't care who's open. Sorry. 

But like Lindy Ruff says, we're looking ahead. Enough about the last game. Same lineup for the Sabres, meaning Craig Rivet and Mike Weber are the scratches. Be sure to read today's earlier post for an update on Rivet. Helps Ruff out of a pickle for now: He's sick and the team's winning so he sits. What happens if they keep winning and he's ready? Uh-huh. 

Strange but true: Derek Roy has 18 points -- tied for eighth in the NHL and fourth among centers. Gotta give it up to him. Alexander Ovechkin leads the Caps with 23 points (9-14) while Alexander Semin has 21 (12-9). They're third and fourth in the league, respectively. 

And yes, the "Fans Show Up, Why Don't You?" sign is again up above Section 304. The Sabres, in case you've been under a rock for a month, are 0-6-1. They're now moving the large Sabres banner through the 300 level instead of the 100 level. Anything to change things up I guess. (Conspiracy theory: Maybe management wants it to cover that banner. Oops, just saw the sign on the HD board as the banner went underneath. The Sabre-censors missed that one!).

And an AWESOME new 40th anniversary video for pregame featuring alumni interviews and LOADS of hockey. Got rid of all the cultural references. HUGE improvement.

More pregame: Super job by the Sabres to honor Mike Grier for his 1,000 game. NHL Senior Vice President of Operations Jim Gregory was on hand to present Grier with a silver Tiffany plaque. Sabres GM Darcy Regier presented Grier with a silver stick and the framed jersey he wore game No. 1,000, Nov. 3 in Boston. Grier's wife and two children, in blue Sabres jerseys, joined him on the ice. Super touch. Solid video salutes from Gaustad, Miller, Pominville and Rivet as well as some opponents like Williamsville native Todd Marchant of Anaheim, who played with Grier in Edmonton. 

Keep it here for the latest from the Sabres and Ovechkins. 

---Mike Harrington


Sabres open with Pominville, VAnek, Roy and Connolly. Four forwards. 

4:30 left: Faceoff. Holtby has stopped Pominville twice.

3:42 left: Icing on Caps. Penalty over. Puck off post on Connolly shot. Looked like Vanek got a piece of it.

1:44 left: Shot partially blocked by Green on a 3-on-1. Close call.

1:00 left: VANEK COAST TO COAST. HIGHLIGHT REEL. ALL-STAR STUFF. Stuffs home the backhand. Praise be. A win at home. Place goes nuts.

Third Period

9:01 p.m: We're under way again. Twenty minutes to go for the Hallelujah chorus of a home win in Buffalo for SOMEBODY. 

16:44 left: Caps have the first three shots of the period and lots of zone time. Mr. Boudreau clearly had a few things to say. 

14:00 left: Shots are 5-1. Sabres really don't think they can just rely on Miller to hold on for 20 minutes, do they? Against this team? 

12:51 left: Hate to say I told you so. But I told you so. Backstrom with a perfect shot just under the crossbar using Morrisonn as a screen. Game tied at 2-2 and shots are 7-1 in this period.

10;02 left: Ten minutes away from a fourth straight overtime. Sabres have to generate more offense here. This would be one devastating loss if they don't pull it out. 

6:36 left: Pominville doesn't convert Hecht's goalmouth pass on a 2-on-1 which was Buffalo's best chance of the period. Fair is fair: Great steal by Connolly set the whole thing up. 

4:18 left: Shots are 7-3 for the Caps. Attendance announced at 18,690, the third sellout of the season. And the place is definitely packed. 

2:54 left: Backstrom goes four minutes for high sticking Morrisonn. A few seconds after Vanek just fails to go backhand-forehand at the doorstep. Gotta score the go-ahead goal here. Just have to.

1:14 left: Timeout, Sabres. Holtby has stopped Pominville on one shot and Leopold just missed on a rebound. Sabres have three shots so far. They would have 1:06 of 4-on-3 to open overtime if they need it.

13.9 left: Crowd boos as Myers ices the puck with a long pass. Ridiculous play.

On to OT -- again. Shots were 7-6 for the Caps in that period and 24-23 for Washington for the game. Caps have gone nearly 13 minutes without a shot.

Second Period

8:06 p.m.: We're back at it.

16:14 left: Jason Chimera goes for cross checking, a retaliation on Kaleta. AND he gets two more for unsportsmannlike conduct. Will the power play do anything any time soon? It's 1 for 24 in the last seven games before tonight and 0 for 1 tonight. That's 1 for 25 if you're scoring at home (I'm still in baseball mode a little coming off post-World Series vacation).

12:10 left: Three shots and not much possession as the PP falls to 1 for 27. Here's how it went: Giveaway by Pominville, save on Connolly, giveaway by Ennis, save on Hecht, bad pass by Hecht, bad pass by Ennis, Montador shot blocked, Connolly giveaway (boos), offside (boos), Leopold shot stopped. Terrible.

11:09 left: It's not like the Caps are doing anything in this game. They have one shot in the period so far. Sabres have four. Another brutally boring game in Buffalo. Do the Sabres ever player interesting hockey in this building? The games in New York and New Jersey, win or lose, were good to watch. This is plain terrible. 

9:50 left: Sabres finally get it in gear as Montador rifles one all the way through from the right point. Nice backhand feed off the boards to him from Grier. We're heard the ping off the post all the way up here. Montador's second of the year puts him at plus-11 -- or 22 goals better than minus-11 Myers. Game tied, 1-1.

6:18 left: Shots are 7-2 for the Sabres in the period. The Caps seem sucked into the Sabres' lifeless approach. They're doing nothing. Is Ovechkin even on the ice this period?

3:55 left: Tomas Fleischmann goes for high-sticking Ennis in the mush. Fleischmann gets four minutes and Roy gets two for hooking. Repeating: Will this power play do anything? People in front of the press box: Stop trying to do the wave. This isn't 1986.

3:31 left: STOP THE PRESSES, STOP THE PRESSES. A power play goal. By Vanek no less. Leopold's shot is blocked by Green but it rolls to Holtby's left and Vanek, mercifully, has a tap-in. Poor guy looked so relieved he just skated away and didn't even put his arms up. Sabres lead, 2-1. 

1:53 left: Sabres really dominating as Caps continue to sleep. Shots are 11-2. Wonder if Washington will come out breathing fire in the third after Bruce Boudreau peels some paint off the walls in this intermission.

End-2nd: We hear cheering in HSBC Arena. Praise be. It's 2-1 for the Sabres, shots were 11-4 in that period and 17-17 for the game. The last 10 minutes were about the best we've seen Buffalo at home this year. Winning all kinds of physical battles for the puck. 

First period

7:14 p.m: We're under way a few minutes late. Buffalo starters: McCormick-NIedermayer-Grier-Sekera-Myers.

18:16 left: Memo to Lindy -- You will not win a home game as long as Tim Connolly is still on the ice. First shift, first brutal giveaway. Right to Nicklas Backstrom, whose slapshot handcuffs Miller badly. Goalie dropped it right between his legs out of the glove but it rolls just wide of the open net.

17:22 left: David Steckel goes for delay of game (puck over glass). Let's see if the power play can do anything. 

17:01 left: Not so far. Brutal giveaway by Vanek creates a 2-on-1 but at least he backchecked hard to break it up.

15:20 left: One shot on goal. Biggest highlight: Strong hit by Connolly, of all people, on Mike Green.

13:07 left: Shots are 4-3 for Caps. At first TV timeout, a video salute for Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier's 1,000th games. A few boos for Regier when his name is mentioned. Too bad Lindy's moment gets ruined by including the GM, whose name is not on high on most fans' lists right now.

11:57 left: WHO KIDNAPPED TYLER MYERS THIS YEAR? He wipes out going around his net with no one around him, gives the puck away and it goes to the left point where Karl Alzner blasts it past Miller to make it 1-0, Caps. 

10:08 left: Video birthday wish to Gilbert Perreault, who turns 60 -- 60! -- today. He waves to the crowd. Still haven't heard the tape of his Elvis impression after a game this year. Why? They only play it here when the Sabres win. Oy. 

8:56 left: Another great contribution from Connolly. Slashing penalty. 

7:06 left: Niedermayer feeds Kaleta on a short-handed 2-on-0. Holtby with the great glove save.

6:15 left: Kaleta strips Holtby behind the net and feeds an open Roy in front of the yawning cage but the Caps get back just in time to stop Roy's chance.

5;13 left: SHOOT VANEK, SHOOT. 

4:42 left: Miller stones Ovechkin on a breakaway and the crowd is on its feet. Finally, some life here. Huge play. Maybe that can change some things. Great stop with the left pad.

End-1st: It's 1-0 for the Caps and shots are 13-6. Miller keeping the Sabres afloat so far. Not much going on offensively. Again.


Sabres-Caps: Keep an eye on special teams

With Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green in town, the special teams are going to be a huge point of emphasis for the Sabres in tonight's game against the high-flying Washington Capitals. Buffalo is 0-6-1 at home and can't let the Caps run wild with the man advantage if it wants to snap that skid.

Even with all their talent, the Caps' power play went 1 for 33 in their playoff loss to Montreal last year (shades of 0 for 19, eh?). Things started badly this year as Washington was just 4 for 39 in its first 10 games and had an 0-for-16 run in one five-game stretch. The Caps hit town, tonight, however on a six-game winning streak and are 9 for 22 in those games.

The Sabres, meanwhile, have dramatically picked up their penalty killing since Jason Pominville's return. They're 15 of 16 the last five games with him on the ice -- and 23 of 24 on the season with him. Without Pominville, that 95.8 percent clip drops to just 69.8 (30 of 43).

"It's been better. Special teams have been one of the issues at home," said coach Lindy Ruff. "We need improved special teams. ... If you kill them off, and we know Washington has got some lethal weapons on their power play, you can give yourself a chance."

---MIke Harrington

Enroth back to Portland; Rivet had food poisoning

Jhonas Enroth wasn't on the ice for the Sabres' morning skate and after it ended, the team officially announced he was sent back to Portland and will thus not be on the roster for tonight's game in HSBC Arena against Washington. Thanks for nothing, kid. 

Pretty interesting call. With five rugged games coming in the next eight days, Ryan Miller isn't playing all of them. But it looks like Patrick Lalime will play at least one of them. Gotta figure Lalime's days here are numbered if he lays another egg, whether the Sabres buy him out (they do that now -- see Kennedy, Tim) or simply send him to Portland.

Enroth went 2-1-1 with a 3.43 GAA and .876 save percentage with the Sabres.

Craig Rivet, still coming back from the flu, is on the ice. Doubt we'd see him playing tonight. We'll see what Lindy Ruff says about his progress after practice. Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe skating in red (non-contact) jerseys.


Ruff on Enroth: "If we need him, we can always bring him back. In the meantime, he needs to play. He's gaining ground. He played well for us. There's some areas of his game he needs to work on. He also helped us get five out of six points."

Rivet said he suffered from food poisoning that struck full force when he returned home from last Saturday's game in Toronto. The captain lost eight points and started feeling better when he got an IV on Tuesday. 

"The last couple days have been pretty good," Rivet said. "I started getting strength back and the weight is coming back."

Ruff said Rivet needs full practices with the team and "has a ways to go" before he would be considered for a spot back in the lineup.

---Mike Harrington

Miller to play Saturday, Rivet not ready

The Sabres, who have five of a possible six points in their past three games, get their top player back for the next one. Ryan Miller made it through today's practice in HSBC Arena and coach Lindy Ruff said the goaltender will be in the nets Saturday when the Sabres host the Washington Capitals.

Ruff said no decision has been made yet on whether to send rookie Jhonas Enroth back to Portland or keep him on the Sabres' roster as a backup. Enroth started four of the five games during Miller's hip injury.

Captain Craig Rivet, who skipped the team's journey to New Jersey and New York because of the flu, still has "catching up to do," Ruff said, and won't be ready to play against the Capitals.

The audio of today's chats by Miller and Ruff is below.

---John Vogl


Ryan Miller


Lindy Ruff

Enroth role up in air with Miller returning

LGA -- Good morning from LaGuardia Airport, where I arrived way too early for my flight back to Buffalo. That said, it sure was nice to zip around Manhattan and the highways leading to the airport with absolutely no traffic.

The Sabres flew back to Buffalo following their 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers on Thursday night. It would have been a regulation loss if not for stellar saves by Jhonas Enroth, who started his third straight game and helped give the Sabres five out of six points.

The Sabres will have a decision to make on Enroth as early as today. Ryan Miller might be ready to start Saturday when the Sabres host Washington, pushing Enroth out of the crease. The Sabres obviously have more confidence in Enroth than Patrick Lalime, so do they keep him in town as the backup or send him back to Portland to play more games?

Whatever they do, keeping all three goalies on the roster would be a mistake. Remember Mika Noronen? I do. I'll always think the two-time minor-league player of the year would have been a quality NHL goalie if the Sabres hadn't made him the third wheel in a dysfunctional situation.

---John Vogl

Three stars

Live from Sabres at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Greetings from the World's Most Famous Arena, where I'll actually get the news out of the way before flapping about the day.

The Sabres will face a backup goalie for the second straight night after Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist showed up at Madison Square Garden this afternoon feeling ill. He will give way to old friend Martin Biron, the former Buffalo netminder who is 1-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.

Now, back to more important things. First, I'll take a second to remember all the real heroes out there on Veterans' Day (including my late grandfather, Mel Klumpp, who served as a Marine in World War II). Thanks for everything.

New York always loves a parade, and the Veterans' Day parade went past my Fifth Avenue hotel for four hours. I saw the start at 11:30 a.m., and when I came back at 3:30 p.m. after my day on the island, it was just wrapping up. That's a lot of drumming and marching and waving. Among the final groups was the Guardian Angels, and it was cool to see Curtis Sliwa posing for pictures and shaking hands with folks.

What was hot in addition to cool was the World Financial Center Greenmarket down near the World Trade Center site. I'm a big fan of Hot Apple Cider, and Red Jacket Orchard at the market had the best ever. Obviously fresh, it also had just-cut pieces of apple in it for an added burst. Good stuff.

Roasted chestnuts are also out and tasty, as the Big Apple gets ready for Christmas season. There's nothing like Christmas in New York, and workers were getting Rockefeller Center ready while early birds skated on the ice nearby.

In a bit of bad news, my second-favorite restaurant in North America has closed. Roberto Passon, which had an unreal Mango and Arugula salad, is no more. (It appears my favorite, The Mission in Scottsdale, Ariz., is still open.) Roberto Passon's absence led me back to Virgil's Barbecue, which restated its case as having the best brisket ever -- and I've lived in the South. The ribs still leave something to be desired, though.

Well, back to hockey soon since I assume most of y'all care more about that. Not sure why, but oh well ...

6:39 p.m.: The Sabres are going back to Jhonas Enroth as their goaltender for the third straight game. The rookie has the Sabres on their first two-game winning streak of the season.

Also, David Letterman is sitting in Section 50.

6:42 p.m.: From the Kids Say the Darnedest Things Department, here's a blistering take on the Sabres by Canisius High School senior Derik Wagner in today's Next Section of The News. And you die-hards and fanatics think Bucky Gleason is tough on your boys ...

6:47 p.m.: And with the copy editor in me coming out, the thing that stuck out for me most in Wagner's piece was his correct use of the word "uninterested." Even some professional journalists insist on using disinterested, which means impartial. Nice job, kid (or the copy editor who fixed it in case he had it wrong.)

7:02 p.m.: Letterman's got some sweet seats. He's here with three other dudes. No idea who they are, but they're all getting a kick out of the video scoreboard. I used to do a pretty good Letterman imitation during a Panama City Spring Break trip a few years back.


7:08 p.m.: Good job by military woman Corinne Powers, who was shaking the microphone nonstop because of nerves but held it together for a solid national anthem. Game on, with the Sabres trotting out Cody McCormick-Rob Niedermayer-Mike Grier and Jordan Leopold-Steve Montador for the starting lineup.

7:14 p.m.: Niedermayer takes the first penalty of the game, going for hooking with 16:01 left.

7:17 p.m.: Enroth makes saves on Brandon Dubinsky and Erik Christensen to kill penalty, and Biron stops Niedermayer on breakaway when he steps out of box.

7:19 p.m.: It's 0-0 with first commercial coming with 11:43 left. The Sabres have five of the eight shots. There's just a constant buzz in this rink. It's awesome. The Sabres are celebrating their 40th anniversary, while the Rangers are unveiling a heritage jersey Friday to celebrate their 85th anniversary. That's an impressive run.

7:21 p.m.: I was a little worried in New Jersey last night that my computer was partly to blame for my Internet woes. Nope, it's flying in here. Yet another reason to despise Newark.

7:23 p.m.: This is also the only arena where the press box is behind the net, and boy am I glad they put netting over the glass. I would've just been ducking a puck I think.

7:25 p.m.: The Sabres take the second penalty, with Paul Gaustad headed to the box for interference with 9:40 left. Just prior, Patrick Kaleta welcomed Marian Gaborik back to the lineup with a hard hit. Gaborik, who missed 12 games with a shoulder injury, was wondering how his shoulder would respond. No better person to test it than Kaleta, eh?

7:30 p.m.: Enroth stones Dan Girardi, the recipient of a cross-ice pass in the faceoff circle, to kill the second penalty. It's 0-0 with 7:16 left, with Rangers holding an 8-7 shot edge.

7:31 p.m.: I see a kid in a San Francisco Giants hat. Yee haw! World Series champs baby!

7:33 p.m.: If it weren't for the puck hitting teammates' skates, Enroth would have a lot fewer goals allowed. Brandon Prust pushed the puck from behind the Buffalo net to the front, where it hit Shaone Morrisonn's skate and then Tim Connolly's skate. No one cleared it from Connolly's feet, and Ruslan Fedotenko cleaned it up to give New York a 1-0 lead with 5:56 left. A puck deflected off Chris Butler's skate and past Enroth in New Jersey.

7:37 p.m.; Gotta admit -- I'm so jealous when I look around the press box and see that every other writer gets to be just a hockey writer instead of a writer/blogger. I used to really, really love that job.

7:41 p.m.: Sabres are stuck on seven shots as we hit the final minute.

7:42 p.m.: Sabres go to the dressing room in a 1-0 hole, with the Rangers holding a 14-8 shot edge.


8 p.m.: Game on.

8:03 p.m.: Jochen Hecht feeds Connolly for a wide-open, point-blank shot in the slot, and Connolly fires it over the net with 17:56 left.

8:05 p.m.: Biron makes a fine glove save on Niedermayer while down to keep the Sabres off the board with 16:44 to go.

8:09 p.m.: Sabres get their first power play when Michael Sauer boards Kaleta with 14:48 left. Gaustad and Fedotenko go for roughing after the play.

8:11 p.m.: Rangers easily kill the penalty.

8:12 p.m.: First commercial break comes with Rangers holding their 1-0 lead. They have a 15-11 shot edge.

8:15 p.m.: Sabres head back to the box with McCormick going for elbowing with 11:13 left.

8:17 p.m.: Leopold goes for hooking Derek Stepan -- who hasn't scored since getting three on the Sabres in the Rangers' opener -- with 9:52 left. It's a five-on-three for 39 seconds.

8:20 p.m.: Sabres kill the penalties.

8:22 p.m.: Biron keeps it 1-0 with a save on Leopold with 6:40 left. Thomas Vanek carried the puck into the New York zone and threaded a pass from behind the net through the slot for Leopold. The shots are 17-13 New York.

8:23 p.m.: Tie Domi is here.

8:30 p.m.: A great play by Vanek allows the Sabres to tie the game at 1-1 with 4:27 left. The left winger abused a New York defenseman to get around the Rangers' net, and Derek Roy picked up his jam attempt. Biron made the save, but Tyler Ennis jammed the loose puck home.

8:32 p.m.: There's 3:09 left and I noticed Sean Avery for the first time.

8:35 p.m.: Sabres call timeout with 59.2 seconds left to get rest for the Vanek line, which was tired but has to stay on because of an icing call.

8:36 p.m.: The timeout didn't work. No one bothers to pick up Artem Anisimov on the doorstep, and he banks a shot off the post with 47.5 seconds left.

8:38 p.m.: The Sabres answer with 2.9 seconds left to head to the dressing room in a 2-2 tie. Rob Niedermayer sent the puck to the front, and Grier backhanded it home just before time expired. The Sabres have a 19-18 shot edge.


8:56 p.m.: The Sabres start the period with a 20-18 shot edge after the officials add one during intermission. Game on.

9:02 p.m.: Sabres catch a break when referee waves off Fedotenko goal with 15:45 left, saying he blew the whistle before the puck went in. Replays show Fedotenko hit the puck off Enroth's glove and into the net before the goalie ever covered it.

9:05 p.m.: It's 2-2 still with 13:44 left.

9:14 p.m.: Stellar saves by Enroth, including a pad stop on Alex Frolov while down with 9:50 left, keeps the score 2-2 with 9:17 to go.

9:16 p.m.: Tripping call on Gaustad with 8:43 to go.

9:20 p.m.: Sabres get a power play with 6:06 left when Brian Boyle goes off for tripping. Letterman must be a real fan because he's still here, wasn't just a token appearance.

9:23 p.m.: Biron makes big save on Jason Pominville's power-play blast to keep it 2-2. There's 4:05 left.

9:32 p.m.: The teams are going to overtime. The Sabres will pick up points in all three road games on this trip. It's 2-2 with Sabres holding a 30-27 edge in shots.

9:38 p.m.; Anisimov scores with 3:28 left to give the Rangers a 3-2 win.

---John Vogl

Take your pick

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Devils done, Rangers up next for Sabres

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Lindy Ruff got it all. The Sabres' 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils on Wednesday gave him his 1,000th game and second straight win.

"You can't build unless you put one on the back of the other one, and we've done that," Ruff said. "But when you're in the hole you're in, you need to run a pretty good string together. The easiest way to get back in the picture is win four or five straight."

They get the chance for three tonight when they visit the New York Rangers, who get Marian Gaborik back after a 12-game absence.

The Sabres are expected to have just a team meeting with no skate this morning, which should give me a full day in one of my favorite cities (no, not Secaucus ... I'll be in Manhattan soon). It'll also give Ruff time to chat about his fine new defense pair of Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera. Myers had a goal and two assists against the Devils and was plus-3.

"We thought we’d go with a more offensive look, and I thought it paid off," Ruff said after the game. "They’re both strong skaters. They’re both good offensively, and tonight I thought it worked. Hopefully that works again."

What's not working is the Ilya Kovalchuk experiment. The Devils $100 million man was booed after missing a golden scoring opportunity to win the game late and again when he ended the game by losing the puck on his shootout well before he got to the net.

"I was kind of surprised he dropped the puck," Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth said. "I didn’t know if he was allowed to pick it up again or anything, so that was kind of surprising."

---John Vogl

Three stars

Live from Sabres at New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. -- Greetings from yet another empty building on the road, as the Sabres face the Devils in sparkling Prudential Center in not-so-sparkling Newark. The plush seats that make up the six center-ice sections are five-eighths empty with minutes to go till puck drop.

As you should know from reading earlier blogs, the Sabres are without goalie Ryan Miller (knee) and captain Craig Rivet, who stayed home with the flu. The Devils are without goalie Martin Brodeur (elbow).


7:08 p.m.: I think five-eighths may have been an overstatment. Three-quarters is more like it. Of course, considering it costs $30 to park here (yes, Accounting Department, I have the receipt), I wouldn't come to a game at this place, either.

Game On.

7:10 p.m.: Andrej Sekera is Tyler Myers' blue-line partner.

7:13 p.m.: Devils make announcement at first whistle congratulating Lindy Ruff on coaching his 1,000th game for the Sabres tonight.

7:14 p.m.: I think this might be somewhere around my 500th game covering the Sabres. Think anyone will congratulate me? (That's just a total guesstimate, by the way, when I factor in nine seasons, with 70 games or so each of the last three. I have no idea how many games it's been, nor do I care at the moment. I can tell you this has been the least-fun team to cover, and that has nothing to do with its win-loss record. OK, enough rambling -- for now.)

7:26 p.m.: Jhonas Enroth likes to make glove saves with a flourish, and possibly because of that it's 1-0 New Jersey. Enroth swiped his glove at Patrik Elias slap shot, and he didn't catch it clean. The puck dropped in front of him, and Jason Arnott drove the net and backhanded it home with 9:48 left. The Devils have five shots, the Sabres four.

7:29 p.m.: Sabres get first power play when Dainius Zubrus trips Derek Roy with 7:23 left. The Sabres pulled Enroth for the extra skater during the delayed penalty, and a bad pass sent the puck all the way down toward the empty Buffalo net, but the puck hit the outside of the post to keep the score 1-0.

7:32 p.m.: To no one's surprise, the Sabres fail to score on the power play. They are now 1 for 21 over the past six-plus games.

7:36 p.m.: New Jersey does not have Ice Girls (instead they have dudes dressed in white coveralls who remind me of that faceless garbage man who would carry Oscar the Grouch around on Sesame Street), but it does have the Devils Dancers. It's still 1-0 with 2:48 left.

7:44 p.m.: And at the end of one period, it's New Jersey with a 1-0 lead and a 9-8 edge in shots. And here's a picture of Bruno the Trashman, who I thought wore white but I guess not.300px-Bruno

It's been a long time since I tuned in to Sesame Street, but that's still who I was thinking of.


7:58 p.m.: Game on.

8:02 p.m.: The Internet in here is superslow, so like four minutes ago the line of Patrick Kaleta, Matt Ellis and Paul Gaustad were stopped on two great scoring chances by goalie Johan Hedberg, who just stymied Thomas Vanek on a wrap-around with 17 minutes left.

8:09 p.m.: While I was waiting for the blog to refresh, the Sabres scored twice in 13 seconds. Jason Pominville's shot from the slot went over Hedberg's glove with 14:38 left, and Derek Roy ripped a slap shot over Hedberg's glove that sent the water bottle flying with 14:25 to go. The Devils called a timeout, and it's 2-1 Buffalo.

UPDATE FROM ONE NEWS PLAZA: Technical problems in the Prudential Center have delayed tonight's live blog. If the issues get resolved, coverage will continue as soon as possible.

---John Vogl

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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 |

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 |

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 |