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Live from Sabres at Boston

BOSTON -- Marc-Andre Gragnani's situation is hardly enviable. The defenseman was called up to play forward for tonight's game against the Bruins, so his NHL season debut figured to be a test right off the bat. The Sabres are wrapping up their pregame skate, and Gragnani's hope for offensive production just took another hit.

It appears Gragnani will play left wing alongside center Rob Niedermayer (no goals) and right wing Mike Grier (two goals). If the kid was hoping to make an offensive impact, he's got his work cut out for him.

The other lines: Thomas Vanek-Jochen Hecht-Jason Pominville; Tyler Ennis-Tim Connolly-Cody McCormick; and Nathan Gerbe-Paul Gaustad-Patrick Kaleta.

Chris Butler and Craig Rivet will be the healthy scratches, while right wing Drew Stafford will miss the game with a groin strain.

More when the puck drops.

FIRST PERIOD

7:08 p.m.: Ryan Miller, in the crease for the 23rd straight game, is staring down the ice at Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask is 4-2 in eight career games against the Sabres but was yanked after one period the Sabres' wild 7-6 victory on New Year's Day.

7:12 p.m.: Gragnani's first shift comes with 17:22 left and he's playing as the seventh defenseman at the moment. Ennis double-shifted to skate alongside Niedermayer and Grier.

7:15 p.m.: Zdeno Chara gets his stick on a Vanek's wide-open shot attempt, and at the same time (15:51 left) Bruins teammate Steven Kampfer goes for hooking.

7:19 p.m.: First commercial comes with 12:34 left. The Sabres' power play was brief as Jordan Leopold failed to clear the puck from the Sabres' zone, forcing Gragnani to take a tripping penalty with 15:23 to go. Boston's Nathan Horton had a breakaway during the four-on-four, but he shot a backhand wide on Miller with 14:47 left. Miller made a nice pad save on David Krejci with 13:15 to go. And Craig Rivet sat down next to me to say hi but was quickly ushered away by the Sabres' media guy.

7:22 p.m.: Vanek heads to the box for slashing with 11:39 left.

7:25 p.m.: Second commercial comes with 9:21 left. It's scoreless and shots are 7-7. So, aside from a 30-minute nap on the plane and another 25-minute nap following a lobster lunch, I haven't slept since Tuesday night because I drove home from South Carolina overnight following a fine, touching memorial service for my mom's husband Wednesday afternoon. I was looking forward to sleeping in a bit in the morning, but USAirways already canceled my 9:10 a.m. flight to Buffalo and I had to rebook on the 7:30 a.m. flight. So, so much for that plan. That said, I'm not the least bit tired anyway.

7:29 p.m.: Bruins take a 1-0 lead with 8:59 left. They win a faceoff in the Buffalo zone, and Dennis Seidenberg unleashes a shot from the point with Horton in front for the screen.

7:34 p.m.: Gragnani is staying on defense so far.

7:39 p.m.: Milan Lucic trips Tim Connolly with 3:14 to go.

7:42 p.m.: The Bruins kill the penalty and head to the dressing room for the first intermission with a 1-0 lead and 13-11 shot edge.

SECOND PERIOD

8 p.m.: Wow is it loud in here. Just called the office to tell them the notebook was in, and couldn't hear a thing with the music over the speakers. Anyway, game on.

8:02 p.m.: McCormick quiets things with a goal with 18:56 left. He blasts a shot off the left post, then gets the puck back in the slot, moves right and fires into the yawning cage to tie the game, 1-1.

8:04 p.m.: Brief break as a panel of glass behind the Buffalo net cracks with 18:26 to go.

8:07 p.m.: Gerbe goes for tripping with 18:10 to go.

8:10 p.m.: Sabres easily kill the penalty.

8:12 p.m.: And Bruins easily take a 2-1 lead with 15:09 to go. Shawn Thornton gets the puck along the boards, feeds Blake Wheeler on the left side of the slot, and Wheeler quickly finds a wide-open Gregory Campbell on the right side of the slot.

8:20 p.m.: Sabres get a power play with 10:49 to go when Wheeler is whistled for interference.

8:21 p.m.: Miller's glove prevents Mark Recchi from scoring short-handed with 10:34 to go.

8:22 p.m.: Gerbe continues his run of fine play with a power-play goal with 9:24 left. Tyler Myers sets up Gerbe with a cross-ice pass, and the former Boston College star buries a shot from the bottom of the left circle. It's 2-2.

8:24 p.m.: Extended standing ovation and brief "USA, USA" chant for Staff Sgt. Thomas Sousa during the commercial break. One of these days, these cool moments that occur in 29 NHL arenas will make their way to HSBC Arena.

8:27 p.m.: Mike Weber helped to the dressing room with 8:19 left after going down with a slap shot off his left leg.

8:31 p.m.: Kaleta goes to the dressing room in serious pain with 5:45 to go. He dived to block a shot -- and it went off his left hand, which is already broken from blocking a shot.

8:33 p.m.: Weber walks back to the bench with 4:10 to gone.

8:38 p.m.: Sabres head to the dressing room with 2-2 tie and 24-22 shot edge.

THIRD PERIOD

8:57 p.m.: The final period has begun for the sellout crowd of 17,565.

9 p.m.: No sign of Kaleta on the bench.

9:02 p.m.: Vanek uses Connolly as a decoy and fires a shot high, stick-side past Rask to give Buffalo its first lead, 3-2, with 14:47 to go.

9:08 p.m.: The 5-foot-5 Gerbe goes after the 6-foot-9 Chara following a whistle with 12:23 to go.

9:19 p.m.: It's still 3-2 with 6:37 left.

9:25 p.m.: Vanek sets up Jason Pominville with 3:20 left to increase the Sabres' lead to 4-2.

9:30 p.m.: Gaustad takes a cross-checking penalty with 57.4 seconds left.

9:31 p.m.: Sabres win their second straight and improve to 7-2-1 in the past 10.

---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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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