The World Juniors logo remains at center ice but the Sabres are reclaiming HSBC Arena for one night for tonight's game against the Boston Bruins. It's also a special night as Alexander Mogilny and late, great Buffalo News hockey columnist and Hall of Famer Jim Kelley get inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame.
We all wish Kell was still here and were really hoping he'd make it to this date once he learned of his poor cancer prognosis. That didn't happen but we salute him in this space again. We have provided blanket coverage of the World Juniors with Jim in mind because that tournament would have found him in his glory. Some sensational hockey so far.
As for the hockey tonight, the first bit of news is that is appears neither Shoane Morrisonn or Craig Rivet are getting scratched. Both are on the ice for warmups, so Buffalo is dressing seven defensemen with one of them likely to take turns up front. Nathan Gerbe is not on the ice so we'll wait for the official lineup sheet.
Update: That's the fact. Gerbe/Kaleta/Butler are the scratches. Morrisonn and Rivet stay in.
Sabres starters: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville-Myers-Sekera. Goal: Miller
Bruins starters: Marchand-Bergeron-Recchi-Ference-Chara. Goal: Rask
Because of the Hall of Fame ceremonies, tonight's faceoff will be in the 7:20 range. Stay tuned.
7:29 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Somewhere in that great rink in the sky, the late, great Jim Kelley is alternating squirming -- and laughing at those of us in his chairs on deadline -- that he was partly responsible for a 25-minute delay of an opening faceoff.
19:33 left: Miller with a great pad save on a rocket from the right circle by Johnny Boychuk.
18:31 left: The Bruins jump to a 1-0 lead as Savard beats Gaustad clean on a faceoff and Andrew Ference beats Miller clean from the point.
17:54 left: Great shift by the Connolly line, poor play behind the net by Rask and Pominville backhands it home to tie the game at 1-1. Pominville got cross-checked after the play by Savard and Weber came in to wipe out Savard. Good to see.
17:11 left: The Bruins take a 2-1 lead as Rob Niedermayer scores his first of the year. Oops, wrong net. Dennis Seidenberg's shot hits him in the body and goes past a stunned Miller. Two goals on four shots for Boston. No goals for Buffalo in 28+ games for Niedermayer.
14:24 left: What's up with this? Hecht loses a faceoff clean and Boychuk's shot gets past Miller on a deflection by Brad Marchand. Three goals on eight shots. Bruins lead, 3-1. Memo to the Sabres: We can only imagine what Jim Kelley would have written about these 5 1/2 minutes. Yeeesh.
11:30 left: Boston's Wheeler gone for delay of game (puck over glass).
9:35 left: Tough hit along the boards on Luke Adam by old friend Daniel Paille.
9:04 left: A few seconds after Gaustad takes out Wheeler, McCormick goes with Adam McQuaid. Has the early edge before falling at the end.
7:00 left: Shots are 9-8 for the Bruins, who have a two-goal lead mostly on the strength of two clean faceoff wins.
6:15 left: The Sabres pull within 3-2 on a sensational give-and-go in the Boston zone from from Connolly to Vanek, who pots the backhand past Rask. Of course, a trip of Ference by Vanek certainly helped the play too. No call. Fortuitous.
5:59 left: Here's a big chance for the Sabres to get even as Savard goes for slashing. What is this? Canada-Sweden?
5:45 left: Big chance? Bruins go up, 4-2, as Chara pots a layup on a 2-on-1 past a sprawling Miller. Seventh short-handed goal of the season against Buffalo, tied with Tampa Bay for most in the league. When your power play struggles, you can't be minus on it. Terrible. Way, way, way, way too easy.
1:24 left: Boychuk to the locker room with a right leg injury.
45.0 left: Rask stops Vanek, who tried to blast one through him as he went through the right circle.
40.1 left: Big goal for the Sabres as Stafford pushes the puck out from under Rask's glove and left leg just inside the post. Bruins lead, 4-3. Stafford's 11th.
End-1st: Crazy period of shinny ends with Boston leading 4-3. Shots are 16-11 for Sabres. Not defensive play and goaltending at its finest, that's for sure.
8:27 p.m.: Two changes in the arena, with Tim Thomas taking over the Boston net and me (John Vogl) taking over for Harrington so he can do the Mogilny-Kelley notebook.
8:28 p.m.: The Sabres get a power play just 22 seconds in as Mark Recchi hooks Paul Gaustad, who barrels over Thomas. Welcome to the game, Mr. Vezina Trophy favorite.
8:30 p.m.: Bruins easily kill the penalty and return to applying pressure.
8:31 p.m.: Boston gets its chance on the power play with 15:54 to go as Drew Stafford gets whistled for hooking. We'll see if the teams can get the eighth goal of the game. The Sabres and their opponents averaged 5.48 goals per game in HSBC Arena through the first 19 outings, and now in the 20th they strike for seven in 20 minutes.
8:36 p.m.: The Sabres tie the game, 4-4, with 13:43 left as Stafford steps out of the box, gets an outlet pass from Paul Gaustad, fakes a slap shot in the right dot and quickly fires a snap shot before Thomas can reset.
8:43 p.m.: Thomas stones Pominville twice with 10 minutes left to keep the score 4-4. Pominville wound up from the slot, got stopped, and then had his rebound chance tipped away.
8:49 p.m.: Big round of applause as Team USA's world junior team is announced on the Jumbtron. They're sitting way up in Section 315, a couple rows from the top. I'm sure Emerson Etem will complain. It's 4-4 with 6:01 left, while the Bruins hold an 11-7 shot edge this period.
8:56 p.m.: Miller keeps it 4-4 with 3:58 to go, sopping Nathan Horton on the doorstep after a sweet, no-look, backhand pass by Savard from behind the net.
8:58 p.m.: Bruins get a chance for another short-handed goal as Boychuk trips Vanek with 2:48 to go.
9 p.m.: The Sabres take a 5-4 lead with Pominville's power-play goal with 2:17 to go. He fired from the point, and the shot was going wide until it struck the skate of Seidenberg and caromed past Thomas.
9:02 p.m.: Fans get restless with 1:10 left as the Jumbotron goes dark. Now they actually have to watch the game on the ice instead of the TV screen.
9:04 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room with a 5-4 lead. The Sabres have 30 shots, 14 in the second period, while the Bruins have 24, including 13 in the second. Good night from me, as Mike will be back for the third.
9:20 p.m.: Harrington back in the saddle as the puck is dropped. Kudos to JVogl for taking over for the middle 20 minutes.
16:52 left: The Bruins tie it up at 5-5 at rookie Tyler Seguin buries one from the right circle over Miller's shoulder. It's been all Boston in this period -- six shots to none. Bruins deserved the tie. Great feed from the boards from Paille for his 100th NHL point.
16:18 left: Stafford gone for slashing.
13:43 left: Out of the box, Stafford gets Buffalo's first shot on goal after Boston had eight.
12:54 left: You can see the talent of Seguin. What a saucer pass to rookie d-man Steve Kampfer for his second of the year. Bruins lead, 6-5. Shots are 9-1 in this period. This is Buffalo's highest-scoring game of the season. Previous high was nine combined goals twice. It's the first multi-point game of Seguin's career. In a real I'm-going-out-there guess, it won't be his last.
8:26 left: Shots are 10-1 for Boston. Sabres were 9-1-0 when leading after two periods. Bruins were 3-9-3 when trailing after two.
4:30 left: Two shots in the third period is not the way to protect the lead.
2:43 left: Icing against the Bruins. And people, again, start to pile up the staircases to the exits with three minutes left in a one-goal game.
2:20 left: A near miss as the puck squirts through Thomas legs but goes just wide of the left post on a shot by Pominville.
1:29 left: Icing on Boston again. They're just holding on.
47.3 left: Faceoff in Boston end. According to NESN and the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time in the Bruins' long history that four different defenseman have scored in a game (Chara, Ference, Seidenberg, Kampfer).
27.8 left: The Sabres tie it up at 6-6. Incredible work at the point by Leopold to keep the puck in and Stafford eventually puts it home on the backhand. Here come the hats on Mogilny's Hall of Fame night. Somehow appropriate. And it's 6-6. And our man Kelley is laughing from above at his buddies in the press box sweating out deadline now.
We go to OT at 6-6 -- but only after Horton narrowly misses from in front with Miller getting a piece. How did he get that open at this point? Shots were 11-5 for the Bruins in the third and it's 35-35 for the game.
4:10 left: Stafford denied cutting in from Thomas' left. He has back-to-back hat tricks against Boston in the last two meetings. Wild.
2:39 left: Bruins have the only two shots but neither were dangerous.
1:49 left: Shots 4-0. Miller stops Horton. That one was dangerous.
End-OT: Still tied at 6-6. Bruins had the only five shots. It finishes 40-35 for Boston and 16-5 over the final 25 minutes. Sabres did well to get one point out of this. Still have a chance for two. Will have to check but I'm fairly certain this is the highest scoring Sabres game to ever go to a shootout.
Sabres win, 7-6: Sabres get goals by Stafford, Vanek, Ennis. Bruins respond with Ryder and Seguin goals. Chara wide for the win.