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Ennis: 'Very unlucky today'

DENVER -- The Sabres were tantalizingly close to victory against the Avalanche, but Tyler Ennis' stick stopped teammate Luke Adam's shot from completely crossing the goal line late in regulation. Ennis then took a high-sticking penalty in overtime, allowing the Avs to score and earn a 4-3 victory.

"It’s just unlucky," Ennis said. "I don’t know how we have the whole net and it just somehow hits my stick that’s sitting there. I was just trying to battle on the last one there, and my stick gets caught. I try to lift the stick and it hits the guy in the face. Very unlucky today."

Said Adam, who had an open net on the power play with 5:50 to go: "I saw the puck squirt out and I had the whole net there. The one spot that I shot it, it just happens to hit Enzo’s stick. It’s a tough play, but that’s got to be a goal."

It would've been the Sabres' second power-play goal of the night, but they went just 1 for 8 and allowed a short-handed goal.

"The power play needs to be better," said Adam, whose team took a 3-2 lead with two third-period goals but quickly allowed the Avs to tie it and set up the overtime win. "We came out great to start the third with two big goals, and then unfortunately they got one right back. It was there for us. All night, the game was there for us. It would’ve been nice to capitalize on our opportunity."

---John Vogl

Select your three stars

Live from Sabres at Colorado

DENVER -- The Sabres are again facing another team's backup goaltender. The Sabres and Avalanche have taken the ice for the pregame skate, and the goalie matchup will be Ryan Miller versus the Avs' Peter Budaj. The Sabres will have faced No. 2 goalies in 18 of their 39 games, and they are 12-3-2 in their first 17.

Budaj has played just twice in the last 13 games for the Avs, who have Craig Anderson as their No. 1 netminder. Budaj has more work this season than most backups because Anderson missed 10 games with a knee injury in October and November. Budaj is 9-6-3 with a 3.05 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 19 games. He has faced the Sabres three times, going 2-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .938 save percentage.

Miller is 0-1-1 with a 1.94 and .931 against the Avs.

The game is the first as a Colorado visitor for the Sabres' Cody McCormick, who was drafted by the Avs and spent parts of five seasons in the Mile High City.

"It’s just where I started pro, and it’s kind of where you get your feet wet and you start learning that game," he said. "It’s just a learning process that I remember coming back here. It’s a nice city, great fans. There’s always something you’re doing, and with the mountains right there it’s kind of a picturesque kind of city."

The best pictures so far were actually pitchers at the Coors Brewery Tour down the road in Golden, which I visited Monday for the second time. It's always nice to get three free sodas, with the best being Colorado Native. Unfortunately, it's only available in Colorado, so after tonight I probably won't have it again for two more hockey seasons. I'll try to get my fill, then.

FIRST PERIOD

9:08 p.m.: The Sabres are starting with the line of Rob Niedermayer-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier. Game on.

9:09 p.m.: Sabres catch a break with Colorado star Paul Stastny out with the flu.

9:10 p.m.: Steve Montador told me a couple of weeks ago that attendance is up, given the numbers he heard from the NHLPA. I just don't see it. This building is more than half empty, as most of have been when the Sabres visit this season. Of course, maybe people just don't want to come watch the Sabres and fill the arenas every other night.

9:12 p.m.: Andrej Sekera goes for hooking with 16:58 to go, giving Colorado the first power play.

9:14 p.m.: Sabres kill the penalty, and Budaj stops Niedermayer as the forward streaks unobstructed to the net. Line of the year so far goes to Bucky Gleason, who in his column about the Bruins game over the weekend said the game was so wide-open that even Niedermayer almost scored.

9:18 p.m.: Some vocal fans of the Sabres as first commercial hits with 12:04 to go. No score, with teams each taking four shots.

9:23 p.m.: Avs back on the power play with 10:54 left as Gaustad goes for interference.

9:26 p.m.: The Avs have the seventh-ranked power play, but it's 0 for 2 with a pair of lackluster showings. It's 0-0 with Sabres holding a 6-5 shot edge with 8:54 left.

9:32 p.m.: Colorado takes a 1-0 lead with 5:44 left. Tyler Myers pinched in, and the Avs' TJ Galiardi got a loose puck. He flipped it over remaining defenseman Sekera, allowing Daniel Winnik to streak in alone. He fired a shot past Miller from the right faceoff dot.

9:36 p.m.: The Sabres quickly answer, thanks to a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Ryan O'Byrne. Tim Connolly passed to the goal line to Drew Stafford, who fed Thomas Vanek for a tap-in from the top of the crease with 5:11 to go.

9:38 p.m.: The Sabres give it right back with a short-handed goal. Ryan O'Reilly pressures Sekera deep in the Sabres' zone, and Winnik gets the turnover. He feeds O'Reilly across the crease to give Colorado a 2-1 lead with 3:57 left.

9:42 p.m.: Shaone Morrisonn heads to the box with 39.3 seconds left, but Colorado's Tomas Fleischmann goes for tripping with 34.5 seconds left to end the power play.

9:44 p.m.: The Sabres head to the dressing room in a 2-1 holes. The Avs have a 9-8 shot edge. It'll be four-one-four at the start of the second period.

SECOND PERIOD

10:01 p.m.: The Sabres have allowed an NHL-worst eight short-handed goals. They gave up just three last season. Game back on.

10:03 p.m.: Budaj stops Connolly on the doorstep with 18:54 left.

10:05 p.m.: Galiardi hits the post with 18:17 left, and the Avs take a too many men penalty with 17:54 to go.

10:08 p.m.: The Sabres kill their power play without allowing a shortie.

10:10 p.m.: Avs back on the power play as Connolly trips Matt Duchene during an Avs breakout with 14:17 left.

10:19: Budaj makes a nice stop on driving Jordan Leopold as the teams hit the commercial with 6:52 left. Colorado maintains its 2-1 lead and has a 15-14 shot edge.

10:23 p.m.: Winnik goes to the box for holding with 5:13 left.

10:28 p.m.: Stafford cuts the power play short with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 4:19 to go.

10:35 p.m.: Budaj stops Myers with 1.3 seconds left to preserve the Avs' 2-1 lead. The Sabres have an 18-17 shot edge as the second intermission hits.

THIRD PERIOD

10:53 p.m.: The Sabres are 2-16 when trailing after two periods. The Avs are 12-0 when leading after two. Game on.

10:59 p.m.: Jason Pominville continues his hot streak, ties game with 15:32 to play. Vanek threw the puck to the front, where it struck Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles. It dropped straight down, and Pominville swooped in to bury it top shelf. It's 2-2.

11:01 p.m.: Budaj shows why he's a backup as he allows the Sabres to take a 3-2 lead with 14:29 to go. Steve Montador shoots from a poor angle along the right boards but catches Budaj by surprise.

11:03 p.m.: Avs call a timeout and come right back out to tied the score, 3-3, with 13:58 left. Duchene dumps it in from the side of the net during a scrum in front.

11:09 p.m.: Ryan O'Byrne goes for cross-checking with 10:21 to go.

11:14 p.m.: It's 3-3 with 7:52 to go.

11:18 p.m.: Sabres get another chance on the power play with Adam Foote getting whistled for interference with 6:49 to go.

11:21 p.m.: Luke Adam fires into an empty net with 5:50 to go -- but the puck hits the stick of teammate Tyler Ennis inside the net and fails to completely cross.

11:30 p.m.: And we're off to overtime, tied at 3-3.

OVERTIME

11:34 p.m.: Sabres get another power play with 4:13 to go.

11:37 p.m.: Ennis' stick comes into play again, as he takes a high-sticking penalty with 2:28 to go.

David Jones scores with 42.9 seconds left to win the game for the Avs.

---John Vogl

Sabres to go with seven D again

DENVER -- Only three Sabres are left on the ice for the post-practice extra skate -- Nathan Gerbe, Chris Butler and injured Patrick Kaleta -- meaning coach Lindy Ruff will again go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Gerbe and Butler will be scratched, while captain Craig Rivet will skate as the extra blue-liner.

---John VOgl

Sabres' lines

DENVER -- The Sabres are on the ice in Pepsi Center (obviously not the Amherst one) with the following lines and defensive pairings:

Thomas Vanek-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville

Tyler Ennis-Jochen Hecht-Drew Stafford

Paul Gaustad-Rob Niedermayer-Mike Grier

Nathan Gerbe-Luke Adam-Cody McCormick

Andrej Sekera-Tyler Myers

Jordan Leopold-Steve Montador

Shaone Morrisonn-Mike Weber

Chris Butler-Craig Rivet

---John Vogl

Penguins, Blackhawks dominate All-Star picks

DENVER -- Greetings from the Mile High City, where the Sabres will have their morning skate at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time.

While we wait, we'll go over the NHL's first six All-Stars, announced today. Pittsburgh and Chicago voters must've been online a lot, with the two teams getting all six. The Penguins will send forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to Carolina at the end of the month, while the Blackhawks will have forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith at the game and skills competition Jan. 29-30.

There will be 36 more All-Stars and 12 rookies announced Tuesday. Once the selection of the 42 All-Star players is complete, the players will decide which two All-Stars will become team captains as well as four alternate captains, two for each team. The NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft will be televised live on Versus at 8 p.m. Jan. 28, with the captains picking the teams.

The Sabres' Ryan Miller was seventh in voting among goaltenders.

---John Vogl

Lindy on seven defensemen, playing Colorado

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said today that dressing seven defensemen, as the team did against Boston on Saturday, is an option for tomorrow's game against the Avalanche.

Against the Bruins, captain Craig Rivet skated just 6:47, while Nathan Gerbe was a healthy scratch. Even if Ruff sticks with the same defensive plan, that doesn't necessarily mean Gerbe will sit.

"I don't about that. We could alternate some of our younger forwards right now," the coach said.

Monday's game is the only one of the season against the Avalanche.

"They've got real good speed, real good energy with [Matt] Duchene and [Paul] Stastny and the likes of those guys. They've got a defense where a couple guys back there are very mobile, get involved. They may be as good as it comes when it you look at a five-man attack where defense are involved and how hard they play in the offensive zone."

Duchene leads the Avs with 39 points (15-24), while Stastny has 36 (15-21).

Ruff said his team got a much-needed victory in their last game away from HSBC Arena.

"To get the win in Edmonton on the road, we needed a road win. We hadn't been playing well on the road. We need to make a stand [and] we need to start now," he said.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Line combinations

Here's what the Sabres went with up front during Monday's practice.

Vanek-Connolly-Pominville

Ennis-Hecht-Stafford

Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier

Adam-McCormick-Gerbe

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Kaleta out for road trip

Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip, but don't expect to see the Angola native in the lineup.

Kaleta skated during the Sabres' morning practice at the Northtown Center in Amherst, but didn't put his left hand on his stick.

"Pat's out for a little bit of time," coach Lindy Ruff said after the workout. "He can come with us and skate."

Kaleta was hurt against Edmonton when he blocked a shot. He missed Saturday's 7-6 shootout win over the Bruins at HSBC Arena. Ruff didn't say whether Kaleta's injury was a broken hand (or wrist), describing it only as "upper-body, outer extremity."

Ruff didn't discount the possibility, though.

"Pretty fair assumption, you guys caught right onto it," he said.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski 

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Bruins

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.

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

First Period

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.

SECOND PERIOD

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.

Third Period

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.

OVERTIME

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.

SHOOTOUT

Sabres win, 7-6: Sabres get goals by Stafford, Vanek, Ennis. Bruins respond with Ryder and Seguin goals. Chara wide for the win.

Ice chips from a quiet morning skate

Around the notebook after a relatively quiet morning in HSBC Arena getting ready for the Sabres-Bruins game:

---Tyler Myers will be back in on defense after missing two games with the flu but Lindy Ruff would not commit to a scratch to make room for him, saying it would be a gametime decision. It's going to be Craig Rivet or Shaone Morrisonn joining Chris Butler and the injured Patrick Kaleta in the press box. 

"We have a certain number of minutes we'd like him to get," Ruff said of Myers. "But he may not be able to handle the number of minutes he's used to."

---The ice is going to be a factor in this game because there has been so much activity on the rink this week with the World Juniors. It was, frankly, in terrible shape this morning with several Sabres saying it was much worse than usual. This warm weather isn't helping.

"I hate to criticize it but with the weather being the way it is, there were some places on the ice where it was melting this morning," Ruff said. "You would hope that by game time they can get it in a little better shape than it is now."

---The Sabres are 1-1-1 against the Bruins this season. Boston is 11 points ahead of Buffalo in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference, holding a one-point lead over Montreal. The Habs moved 10 points ahead of the Sabres for eighth with last night's overtime win in Florida.

---It's going to be Tuukka Rask in goal for Boston tonight instead of Tim Thomas. The Sabres are 11-3-2 against backups this year, including a 3-2 win over Rask in his last start here Dec. 15. Buffalo is just 4-14-2 against starters and Tuesday's win in Edmonton over Nikolai Khabibulin was just its second of the year in regulation against an opposing No. 1 keeper (the other coming against San Jose's Antti Niemi).

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

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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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