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World juniors preview available

The world junior tournament hits high gear today with The Buffalo News' preview section, which is available at newsstands with quality print content you won't see online.

The News has a world juniors blog to cover the tournament, and it is available by clicking here. The links to all the online preview stories can be found here.

---John Vogl

Morrisonn cleared to return, won't play

The Sabres once again have eight healthy defensemen, with Shaone Morrisonn cleared to return from the concussion he suffered Dec. 3 against Columbus. Morrisonn, who has missed seven games, will sit out his eighth straight Thursday when the Sabres host Florida in HSBC Arena. He needs more work before facing a game situation.

"Today was his first good workout," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He needs to practice. He hasn’t been involved. He’s had a couple light skates, but he needs to practice."

Ruff said this week's surgery to repair Tim Connolly's fractured nose went well, though there is no timetable for the center's return. Right wing Patrick Kaleta was back at practice after sitting out the final two periods of Tuesday's 5-2 victory over Anaheim. Kaleta was boarded by the Ducks' Jason Blake.

---John Vogl

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Live from Ducks at Sabres

Greetings from HSBC Arena, where we have a matchup of the engaged goaltender, Ryan Miller, and the backup goaltender, Anaheim's Curtis McElhinney. The Ducks' Jonas Hiller had a 45-save shutout over Boston on Monday and coach Randy Carlyle decided to rest him on the second night of back-to-back games.

According to a recent count by Mike Harrington, this will make the 16th time this season the Sabres are facing a backup goalie. They are 10-3-2.

I have to take a second to give major memory points to fellow writer Bob Matuszak of the Associated Press, who walked into the press box and immediately said, "Hey, they're playing your favorite Christmas song." Indeed, for this first time this holiday season I got to hear "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses. I don't know what was more exciting, that I got to hear it or that he remembered it from previous seasons.

Craig Rivet, wearing the bright yellow "C," was the last Sabre on the ice for the pregame skate. He's been seething for more than a month while sitting out, so I bet he gets in a fight tonight. That's a lot of anger to build up.

"There’s a lot of good and bad emotions that I’ve had over the last month, month and a half, but tonight is not about me," he said. "It’s about me fitting into a team that I want to try and help these guys play better. I want to play better. Things are not going to happen in just one game, but I’m going to start with tonight to try and build some momentum. I’m going to give everything I have."

FIRST PERIOD

7:08 p.m.: The Sabres start with a forward trio of Rob Niedermayer, Cody McCormick and Mike Grier. The Ducks have their top line of Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Game on.

7:12 p.m.: The first power play goes to the Sabres, as Anaheim gets whistled for too many men with 16:15 to go.

7:14 p.m.: And the first power-play goal goes to the Sabres. Drew Stafford works a give-and-go with Derek Roy, cuts to the net and slides a low backhand past McElhinney, who is 2-3-1 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. Well, he was that until the goal.

7:20 p.m.: Miller makes a big save on Ryan with 13:21 to keep the Sabres up by one. Miller, by the way, was none to pleased word of his weekend engagement at The Mansion got leaked.

7:25 p.m.: Rivet and Nathan Gerbe welcome each other back to the lineup and give the Sabres a 2-0 lead with 9:55 left. Rivet pinched to the right corner and fired to the net, and Gerbe buried the rebound for his first goal of the season.

7:32 p.m.: The Sabres are back on the power play and Jason Blake is gone from the game after a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct for hitting Patrick Kaleta from behind into the glass with 6:24 left. Kaleta got up after a short injury rest. 

7:37 p.m.: Tyler Ennis gives the Sabres a 3-0 lead with 3:03 left. McElhinney stopped Andrej Sekera's slap shot but directed the rebound right to Ennis.

7:42 p.m.: The Sabres finish one of their better first periods with a 3-0 lead and 17-4 shot edge. Of course, it helps when the opponent is short-handed for six minutes.

SECOND PERIOD

7:53 p.m.: Still a few minutes from puck drop here, but Mike Harrington is up in Toronto for a Team Canada world juniors exhibition and asks that you check out his blogging at this link.

8 p.m.: The second period starts with punches, as McCormick and Getzlaf stand at center ice, ignore the opening draw and just start swinging.

8:02 p.m.: And on the next faceoff the center swing again. Kyle Chipchura and Gaustad fight with six seconds off the clock. Chipchura dominates early but Gaustad hangs in and rallies late.

8:04 p.m.: This period may never end. Steve Montador creates another whistle just 30 seconds in with a cross-check. It's Anaheim's first power play.

8:06 p.m.: Sabres back at full strength.

8:09 p.m.: Ennis scores his second of the night with 15:20 left to give Buffalo a 4-0 lead. Seconds after he fed Thomas Vanek for an opportunity that didn't get through, Ennis skated through the slot and slipped a shot from close range between the post and McElhinney.

8:11 p.m.: My buddy Joe Best just texted that Versus' television choice has really, um, upset him. Duke, you do nothing but sit on the Internet all day -- if you try hard enough, you can probably find a pirated version of the scoreboard feed somewhere.

8:17 p.m.: Nice glove save by Miller on Brandon McMillan to keep it 4-0 with 10:32 left.

8:19 p.m.: The third fight of the period has George Parros, one of the NHL's heavyweights, taking down Mike Weber with ease with 10:02 left. Not the guy Weber or any inexperienced fighter wants to face.

8:29 p.m.: The Sabres hit the final commercial break with 5:06 holding their 4-0 lead and a 30-9 shot edge.

8:33 p.m.: Jochen Hecht goes to the box for hooking with 3:30 left.

8:38 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room with a 4-0 lead and 31-13 shot edge. If they lose this, they're worse than terrible.

THIRD PERIOD

8:55 p.m. The puck drops without incident.

8:57 p.m.: the Sabres are back on the power play just 1:09 in as Cam Fowler goes for holding the stick.

9:05 p.m.: It's still 4-0 with 13:53 left as Corey Perry goes off for slashing.

9:11 p.m.: OK, game story is done notebook should stand for the night. It's 4-0 with nine minutes left. Really, there was no reason for Buffalo to lose this game. Ducks were playing their fifth East Coast game in seven nights, they faced a 45-shot barrage Thursday in Boston and they were using their backup goalie. It all adds up to an easy Buffalo win.

9:15 p.m.: Fans chanting for five goals.

9:21 p.m.: Hecht's hooking penalty ends Miller's hopes for the 20th shutout of his career. Perry does the honors with 4:24 to go. Still, Miller will get his 199th career win. One more will make him the 67th goalie to reach 200. Teammate Patrick Lalime was the 66th.

9:24 p.m.: Rivet scores with 2:57 to go. Welcome back.

---John Vogl

Rivet, Gerbe back in lineup for Sabres; Miller engaged

Craig Rivet's long, infuriating wait to contribute to the Sabres is finally set to end. The captain will be in the lineup tonight when Buffalo hosts the Anaheim Ducks in HSBC Arena.

Rivet hasn't played since Nov. 20, a span of 11 games. He's been in the lineup only five times since Oct. 26, missing two with the flu and an additional 16 because coach Lindy Ruff made the captain a healthy scratch.

"It’s a good feeling that I’m going to get another opportunity to get back in and help this team, help this team get on the right track and get myself on the right track," said Rivet, who has been keeping in shape with intense on- and off-ice workouts. "It has not been a lot of fun, but it’s going to help me in the long run. It’s going to help me get back to where I want to be and where I know I can play.

"I’m excited to get back in here tonight. It’s been awhile since I’ve played, but I’m excited. I’ll keep things simple tonight and just play hard."

The full audio of Rivet's interview is available below.

Rivet will be joined in the comeback department by Nathan Gerbe. The left winger has been scratched in three straight games and will play alongside center Derek Roy and right wing Thomas Vanek.

"The last couple games offensively I thought they did some nice things," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We just need him to finish. He hasn’t been able to finish. I think putting him back with Derek and Van will give him that opportunity again."

Forward Luke Adam has been summoned from minor-league Portland but will not play.

"Portland is shut down right now, so if we get somebody hurt we wouldn’t have a player, so we’ve got another player here in case something happens," Ruff said.

Meanwhile, in the celebrity gossip department, goaltender Ryan Miller reluctantly confirmed that he became engaged to girlfriend Noureen DeWulf over the weekend.

"We’re definitely happy," Miller said. "I’m a little surprised it got out there that quick, but we’re happy, excited. She’s an awesome person. I’m really happy, and we’re just trying to enjoy the holiday season."

---John Vogl

Check out our new World Juniors blog

With the Sabres free-falling into 12th place in the East, remember tonight's game against the Ducks is a radio-only job. Thank Versus for that.

While you're thinking hockey, be sure to bookmark and head over to our new blog with the latest World Junior updates. Canada won its exhibition opener over Switzerland last night, 8-0, and I'll be heading to Toronto tonight to check out Canada vs. Sweden.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Video: Sabres' Offensive Struggles Continue

The Sabres returned home Dec. 20 from a disastrous Florida roadtrip. Mike Harrington has the latest on Tim Connolly's injury, the playoff outlook and the team's captain situation.

Update on Connolly: Headed for reconstructive nose surgery

The Sabres admitted after Saturday's game in Tampa that Tim Connolly's nose was badly fractured but he still finished the game wearing a full shield. The situation is now this: Connolly needs reconstructive nose surgery but the team is hopeful he might only be out a week.

"It's bad. We have to get it taken care of," Lindy Ruff said after practice Monday in HSBC Arena. "Everything needs to be reconstructed. There's nothing there right now."

Ruff said there will be a callup from Portland but wouldn't specify who, although the obvious choice would be Luke Adam and the Maine Hockey Journal is reporting that Adam has already gotten the call.

The lines that skated today were: 

Gerbe-Roy-Vanek
Stafford-Hecht-Pominville
Ennis-Gaustad-Kaleta
McCormick-Niedermayer-Grier

Shoane Morrisonn is skating in a red (non-contact) jersey.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sunday morning papers

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's that time once again. The time to catch up on the NHL news, starting in the goal-forsaken B-lo, with another edition of Sunday Morning Papers:

*The Buffalo Sabres boarded their plane for Florida on a 4-1-1 run and feeling good about their game. They trudged back on it for the return flight to Western New York as outclassed losers of two straight.

The Tampa Bay Lightning dealt the Sabres their second straight loss Saturday, earning a 3-1 victory in St. Pete Times Forum. The Sabres were outskated for long stretches, outshined on special teams and just plain left out of the win column during their Sunshine State weekend.

"We were playing fairly well coming in," Sabres right wing Mike Grier said. "We've dug ourselves a hole. We've got two games before the Christmas break, and we've got to hopefully go home and get a couple wins, regroup and hopefully find a way to score some more goals."

*Donald Fehr assumed the role of NHL Players' Association executive director Saturday, as the union announced that its membership voted with an overwhelming majority to name the former head of the baseball union as its leader.

"Overwhelming majority just shows the confidence that we have in him," said Buffalo Sabres defenseman Steve Montador, a member of the NHLPA's constitution committee. "We're excited to have him. I think he's the guy with the most experience. Even though he doesn't know hockey, there's nobody else around that has the type of experience for the type of labor union that we are."

*In Inside the NHL, Bucky Gleason catches up with Todd Marchant. He's 37 and skated into the weekend with 1,150 regular-season games over 17 seasons on his NHL resume. His career is older than the Internet. It's old enough to have a driver's license. Heck, he has T-shirts older than NHL veterans who attended his hockey school, which is older than his four children.

Marchant, in his sixth year with the Ducks, returns Tuesday to HSBC Arena for what could be his final NHL game in Buffalo. He still lives in Williamsville during the offseason and is renting his home to Sabres center Rob Niedermayer, his former teammate in Anaheim.

"Any time you get a chance to come back to your hometown and play, it's very special," Marchant said. "And this may very well be my last time playing in Buffalo. It's special, and you have to enjoy it."

*Bucky has the Sabres ranked 25th in the 30-team league in his weekly power rankings.

*No one -- not the oldest centenarian nor the most rabid local historian -- can remember an event that brought more visitors to downtown Buffalo for a concentrated period than the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship.

Just like the NCAA basketball tournament and the NCAA Frozen Four that between them have come to Buffalo five times since 2000, young college-age athletes will lure mostly packed houses -- including thousands of out-of-towners -- to HSBC Arena downtown.

But the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments were two-day events, played out over three days.

The World Junior Hockey Championship will run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, with only one off day, New Year's Day. The tournament, showcasing the world's best 18- and 19-year-old hockey players, will bring 21 games to HSBC Arena and another 10 to Niagara University's Dwyer Arena.

"It's the NCAAs, for 11 days, with beer," Buffalo Sabres public relations director Michael M. Gilbert quipped.

*Here's the take on Saturday's game from the Tampa angle, done by two of my three fellow attendees at a Yankees-at-Dodgers game last June during the NHL draft, Erik Erlendsonn of the Tampa Tribune and Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times.

*Tim Thomas stopped Alex Ovechkin with 11 seconds left, giving Boston a 3-2 victory and sending the Capitals to their eighth straight loss.

---John Vogl

Vote for your three stars

Live from Sabres at Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Sabres are in trouble. Tampa Bay has Sabres Edge legend Sean Bergenheim on its roster, and he's a Buffalo killer (at least when I'm in attendance).

I ripped on him during his Islander days because I'd never heard of him, and he promptly scored twice as the Islanders shut out the Sabres. He's got six goals and 13 points for the Lightning, numbers that are sure to go up tonight.

The Lightning has won two straight and has points in five straight home games. They're going with Mike Smith in goal, while the Sabres are returning to Ryan Miller. He lasted just 20 minutes in Friday's 6-2 dismantling at the hands of Florida.

Caught up with Steve Montador prior to the game to discuss the big NHL news of the day. The players' association has hired legendary baseball union head Donald Fehr as its executive director.

"Overwhelming majority just shows the confidence that we have in him," said Montador, a member of the NHLPA’s constitution committee. "We’re excited to have him. I think he’s the guy with the most experience. Even though he doesn’t know hockey, there’s nobody else around that has the type of experience for the type of labor union that we are."

For more from Montador and Fehr, see Sunday's paper.

FIRST PERIOD

7:38 p.m.: Soulful rendition of the national anthem by sax player BK Jackson. Game on.

7:42 p.m.: Tim Connolly heads to the dressing room just 1:32 into the game after getting his face smashed off the boards on a check by Nate Thompson. Both players were going for the puck in the corner, with Connolly putting his hand up tro try to fend off Thompson. It didn't work. Connolly was driven facefirst into the boards, then as he was falling to the ice Thompson's hip hit him into the boards again. Connolly stayed down and was helped off by athletic trainer Tim Macre while holding a towel to his face.

7:46 p.m.: The Sabres kill a cross-checking penalty against Mike Weber. It's 0-0 with 14:45 to go.

7:55 p.m.: This is the most physical Sabres game in quite some time, with hard hits all over the ice. Cody McCormick ran over Dominic Moore -- who was infamously compared to a kittycat by Patrick Kaleta on an MSG feed last season -- and Kaleta followed McCormick's hit by crunching Martin St. Louis along the boards. St. Louis slowly went to the bench holding his side and got attention from the medical staff.

8:01 p.m.: Slight delay while Miller unbuckles his pads to fish out the save he made on St. Louis with 7:16 left. It's 0-0 with Tampa holding a 7-4 shot edge.

8:05 p.m.: A few nice saves keeps it 0-0 with 4:02 left. Miller stops a point-blank chance by my boy Bergenheim, while Smith stops a McCormick blast and gets help when Thomas Vanek winds up for a one-timer and has his stick shatter.

I love the Tampa crowd. Always the best standing ovations for military members, which tonight goes to Army Cadet Michael Eads.

8:13 p.m.: At the end of one it's 0-0 with the Lightning holding a 10-7 shot edge.

SECOND PERIOD

8:32 p.m.; No sign of Connolly as the teams return.

8:33 p.m.: I can't believe Kaleta skated only 4:53 in the first period. It seemed like he was out there every other shift.

ALERT: Connolly is back with a full shield.

8:35 p.m. Connolly is getting worked on by Macre on the bench as the Sabres go on the power play thanks to Ryan Malone's interference call with 17:13 to go.

8:37 p.m.: Miller forced to stop short-handed breakaway by Dana Tyrell.

8:40 p.m.; Malone comes out, Pavel Kubina goes in for slashing Paul Gaustad with 14:29 left.

8:43 p.m.: Penalty killed again.

8:48 p.m.: It's 0-0 still with 9:45 to go, and Kaleta has one fewer stick. He lost it while taking down Steven Stamkos out of view of the refs, and Ryan Malone grabbed it, took it to the bench and broke it. The Lightning will be on the power play after the commerical with Weber in the box.

8:53 p.m.: Simon Gagne scores on the power play with 7:44 left, lifting a backhand from the crease after Jordan Leopold and Montador leave him to follow Vinny Lecavalier. Lightning right back on the power play after Derek Roy goes for hooking with 7:26 left.

8:57 p.m.: Miller singlehandedly keeps it 1-0 with three short-handed stops on Stamkos.

9:02 p.m.: Stamkos deserved a goal and he gets one with 1:50 left to make it 2-0. Miller had no chance as Malone went cross-ice to a wide-open St. Louis, who went to the slot for a wide-open Stamkos.

The shots were 13-10 when Weber went off for tripping with 9:35 left. The shots are now 27-11 in Tampa's favor with 57.4 seconds left.

9:06 p.m.: For anyone wondering if Jochen Hecht still plays for the Sabres, apparently the answer is yes. He outskated Mike Lundin for a puck, knocked the defenseman away and fed a driving Jason Pominville for an apparent goal with 47.7 seconds left.

It's under review, however.

9:08 p.m.: It counts, it's 2-1 Tampa.

9:09 p.m.: I think the PA announcer just called Hecht "Johan." Only his second point in seven games and the name is wrong.

It's the end of two, with the Lightning holding a 2-1 lead and 28-12 shot edge.

THIRD PERIOD

9:29 p.m.: The Sabres are 2-14 when trailing after two periods.

9:33 p.m.: Leopold breaks up a three-on-one with 16:27 left.

9:33 p.m.: Bergenheim goes to the box for high-sticking Montador with 16:13 to go.

9:44 p.m.: It's still 2-1 Tampa with 9:35 to go.

9:47 p.m.: Sabres go on power play when Lundin goes off for hooking with 9:05 left.

9:49 p.m: PP shortened to 1:43 after Tyler Myers goes off for tripping with 7:22 left.

9:53 p.m.: Miller stops Lecavalier on a penalty shot with 5:45 to go.

10:02 p.m.: Sabres lose, 3-1, as St. Louis scores into empty net with 1.6 seconds left.

---John Vogl

No lineup changes for Sabres

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Sabres, who were spanked, 6-2, by Florida on Friday night, will go with the same lineup tonight against Tampa Bay. Shaone Morrisonn (concussion) and healthy scratches Craig Rivet and Nathan Gerbe were the only players to take the ice for the optional skate today in St. Pete Times Forum.

The Lightning will have captain Vinny Lecavalier back for the second straight game. Tampa Bay won the first meeting of the season between the teams.

---John Vogl

Vote for your three stars

Live from Sabres at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Greetings from South Florida, where few things say Christmastime like Coronas and crab legs on the beach in 75-degree weather. Good times, good times.

Based on my flight down here early Thursday morning and by all the folks in Sabres and Bills gear on Vanilla Ice's favorite street (A1A, Beachfront Avenue), this should be like a home game for the Sabres. There's a huge contingent that flew down from snowy, cold Buffalo to see the Sabres play the Panthers tonight and watch the Bills play down the road in Miami on Sunday.

Smart move considering it's 75 degrees.

Ran into Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad and Jason Pominville along the beachfront Thursday night, and Gaustad said Kaleta could hardly take a few steps without running into a Buffalonian he knew.

Good move by the fans to come down considering it's 75 degrees. Oh, did my sun-tanned fingers type that already?

FIRST PERIOD

7:31 p.m.: OK, now that is a little more of the Christmas spirit. The Panthers Ice Dancers (along with Atlanta and Dallas, the best in the NHL) did a routine to "Let it Snow" in two-piece, white elf-like outfits. I'm sorry you missed it.

7:33 p.m.: Former Sabres forward Steve Bernier will be out for the opening faceoff for the Panthers, who are using Tomas Vokoun in net. The Sabres, who are starting Ryan Miller, will open with the line of Tim Connolly between Tyler Ennis and Kaleta.

7:37 p.m.: Quality anthem by Tory Trowbridge of the musical "Cats." Game on.

7:39 p.m.: Good thing all the Buffalo people came or there'd be a lot less than the 7,000 or so people here.

7:41 p.m.: The Panthers fans get to cheer first on Bryan McCabe's goal just 1:40 in. Miller came out to stop his first slap shot, but McCabe got the rebound and skated left to get an empty-net angle.

7:42 p.m.: Sabres on the power play as Bryan Allen hooks Kaleta with 17:23 left. The Panthers opened with the first four shots of the game.

7:45 p.m. Panthers allow one shot in killing the penalty.

7:48 p.m.: A quick whistle by the refs prohibited the Sabres from tying the game with 15:02 left. Vokoun stopped but did not cover a shot by Mike Weber, and Gaustad quickly flipped the puck home. The whistle went before he did so, though. It's 1-0 Florida with Buffalo holding a 5-4 shot edge with 12:47 to go.

7:53 p.m.: Steve Montador scores to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead with 11:37 left. Yes, you read that right. A shot by Florida's Marty Reasoner hit Montador's skate in front and caromed into the net.

7:54 p.m.: Sabres get another power play as Darcy Hordichuk goes off for holding with 11 minutes left.

7:56 p.m. Save by Vokoun on Derek Roy's doorstep chance allows Panthers to kill penalty.

7:57 p.m.: Crowd has gotten bigger. Probably around 10,000.

7:59 p.m.: It's 2-0 Panthers with 7:03 left.

8:03 p.m.: Reasoner gets his second goal and third point to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 5:52 left. Defenseman Jason Garrison shot wide on purpose, and the back-board carom went right to Reasoner, who fired before Miller could slide across the crease.

8:07 p.m.: Gaustad goes for hooking with 4:40 left.

8:09 p.m.: David Booth beats his buddy Miller on the power play with 3:32 left to make it 4-0. For all the fans who made the journey -- well, at least it was 75 degrees.

8:14 p.m.: The period comes to a merciful end for the Sabres, who trail, 4-0. They also took a penalty just before the buzzer, so Florida will have a two-minute power play with fresh ice when the second period starts. Sabres hold 14-10 shot edge, not that it matters.

SECOND PERIOD

8:31 p.m.: No surprise here -- Patrick Lalime is in net for the Sabres.

8:35 p.m.: Sabres kill the interference call on Rob Niedermayer.

8:38 p.m.: Niedermayer goes back to the box for cross-checking with 15:17 left.

8:41 p.m.: Sabres kill the penalty but still trail, 4-0, with 13:16 to go.

8:42 p.m.: Not sure if Tom Golisano is here to possibly see his team in his home state for the final time, but if so, I'm sure he's thinking "sell, sell, sell" after watching this.

8:47 p.m.: It's 4-0 with 8:50 to go.

8:55 p.m.: Kaleta rolls around with Dennis Wideman while Gaustad exchanges swipes with McCabe as the teams head to the commercial break with 4:42 to go. It's still 4-0. The Sabres have 18 shots, the Panthers have 16.

9:01 p.m.: Lalime has no chance as the Panthers make it 5-0 with 1:02 left. Stephen Weiss' cross-ice pass found a wide-open Michael Frolik, who had no trouble burying the shot before Lalime could slide across.

9:03 p.m.: Derek Roy gives the Buffalo backers reason to wake up, scoring on a top-shelf slap shot with 18.5 seconds left to make it 5-1.

9:04 p.m.: The Sabres finish the period with a 5-1 defict, 26-17 shot edge and 1:53 left on a power play.

THIRD PERIOD

9:22 p.m.: Sure, why not add a short-handed goal to the debacle? Chris Higgins steals the puck from Jason Pominville behind the Buffalo net, gives it to a wide-open Weiss at the top of the crease, and the Panthers have a 6-1 lead with just 13 seconds gone.

9:27 p.m.: Tim Connolly scored ont eh power play with 18:19 left, and Kaleta is in the box for four minutes after going high and late to hit Dmitry Kulikov on a dump-in with 16:40 to go.

9:38 p.m.: It's 6-2 with 11 minutes left with the Sabres going on the power play after a cross-check by Hordichuk.

9:46 p.m.: Bryan Allen gives the Sabres another power play, going off for cross checking with 6:21 to play.

9:50 p.m.: The Panthers kill the penalty.

9:54 p.m.: That's it as the Sabres limp to Tampa for Saturday's game with a 6-2 debacle. It's the third time they've given up a six-pack this season. Chicago and Philadelphia also did it.

---John Vogl

Sabres focused on getting even

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Sabres have a chance to even their win-regulation loss record tonight against the Florida Panthers. A victory in BankAtlantic Center would put the Sabres at 14-14-4.

"It’s important," coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate. "We want to play well. We want to feed off our last win. We want to get this road trip started off the right way."

The Sabres are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind eighth-place Boston.

"We’ve got to keep trying to push up the ladder, close that gap between that group of teams that’s kind of put some distance between eighth to ninth place," Ruff said.

The Sabres are facing a Florida team that built a 3-0 lead over Carolina in the opening minutes of their last game yet lost, 4-3.

"The way they lost their last game, you really feel that they’re going to come out and try to really come out hard," Ruff said. "That’s one of those ones you want a mulligan on because that’s two points you let slip away. I would think tonight they’re going to come out and try to make amends for it."

There will be no lineup changes for the Sabres. Ryan Miller will start in goal, and Craig Rivet and Nathan Gerbe will be the healthy scratches. Shaone Morrisonn (concussion) took a light skate today with his teammates.

"It’s good to get out and get a sweat," Morrisonn said. "With concussions, it’s kind of a process with the way you’ve got to come back and stuff, but I feel like I’m making progress. Not as quick as I want to be, but it’s something you can’t judge."

---John Vogl

Party in the Plaza gets world-sized boost

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Sabres are in the process of making their Party in the Plaza even better for the world junior championships. They began construction today on the "Labatt Blue Hockey Lodge," a 20,000-square foot party tent that will serve as a party headquarters during the tournament that runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. 

The tent will feature live entertainment, food and drink, and flat screen TV's to watch all the action every day.

---John Vogl

Morrisonn ready to exercise

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Shaone Morrisonn, who has been suffering from a concussion and has missed the past four games, is ready to resume exercise after being shut down for a week.

"Shaone is going to start skating," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after practice today in HSBC Arena. "He’s symptom free now, so we’re going to get him riding a bike, we’ll get him skating, and we’ll see how he progresses."

The Sabres are set to head to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to meet the Panthers on Friday. They are coming off a 3-2 victory over Boston. Their special teams keyed the victory, with two power-play goals and a stop during a two-man disadvantage.

Meanwhile, Bucky Gleason reports that the Sabres' sale to Terrence Pegula remains on track.

---John Vogl

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

Three Stars: Sabres 3, Bruins 2

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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 | jvogl@buffnews.com

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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 | mharrington@buffnews.com


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 | amoritz@buffnews.com

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