Greetings again from HSBC Arena as Terry Pegula goes for 3-0 and the Sabres go for 3-3 on the homestand as they meet the Detroit Red Wings.
Breaking news on the scratch front: Jordan Leopold is out for Buffalo with an upper-body injury. (He probably deserved to sit based on how terrible he was last night. Maybe he was nursing something that caused him to be so soft with the puck). Drew Miller is a scratch for Detroit. As in Ryan Miller's brother. As in the guy the Detroit papers all wrote about today playing his brother.
The Miller parents and siblings are here too. Drew has played 54 games this year. There's no hint of an injury. Now, I understand the Red Wings are getting Mike Modano and Valtteri Filppula back from injuries and they've lost two straight at home. But that seems like an awfully harsh decision from coach Mike Babcock.
Buffalo starters: Ennis-Hecht-Stafford-Butler-Myers. Goal: Miller
Detroit starters: Holmstrom-Modano-Filppula-Lidstrom-Stuart. Goal: MacDonald.
Wings win: Datsyuk and Hudler score on backhand dekes. Stafford and Vanek stopped. Two points behind Canes.
9:29 p.m: The puck is dropped. Sabres are 11-6 in OT this year (6-6 in game-deciders, 5-0 shootouts)) and Red Wings are 10-6 (7-4, 3-2).
4:30 left: Great move by Stafford, great save by MacDonald.
2:30 left: Ennis stopped on the doorstep, crashed into MacDoald. Didn't really get shot off.
1:40 left: Lidstrom just wide from in front.
33.0 left: Icing on Buffalo after a nearly brutal giveaway by Myers to Datsyuk circling near the red line as the last man back. Timeout, Lindy. Shots are 2-1 for the Sabres in the OT. They have to be thinking just get to the shootout, where they're an NHL-best 5-0.
4.2 left: Faceoff to left of Miller. Shots 3-2 for Buffalo.
On to the shootout: Final shots 37-32 for Detroit. AND GET THIS: Montreal beats Carolina, 4-3, on Andrei Kostitsyn's power-play goal with 3:53 left. Win this shootout and Buffalo is a point back.
8:52 p.m. : The puck is dropped.
13:36 left: Apologies for the lack of updates. Wrapping up early print duties and not many whistles. Nice save by Miller on Mike Modano. Wings pushing again. Shots are 5-3 for Detroit in the period.
12:33 left: Have to wonder if Sabres can protect a one-goal lead against this club for 29 minutes. Tough task.
10:59 left: Miller stops the always dangerous Datsyuk on a one-timer from the slot. Meanwhile, the Penguins get two late second-period goals to take a 3-2 lead at Toronto through two. The Canes and Montreal are 3-3 early in the third.
8:58 left: Some great skating by Ennis created a couple near-misses in the Detroit zone. Wings have a 9-4 lead in shots and 28-26 for the game. It was, remember, 12-5 for Buffalo at one point.
5:54 left: Buffalo still in hold-on mode. Shots 10-4 for Detroit. Miller has been great on this homestand (1.83 GAA and .945 save percentage). They need him to keep the door shut.
5:18 left: Old friend Clarke MacArthur and Joffrey Lupul score 35 seconds apart early in the third in Toronto and the dont-call-us-Laffs lead Pittsburgh, 4-3. Ouch.
2:19 left: The back-to-back and three games in four nights showing through as the Sabres are hanging on. Wild one in Toronto: Pens score short-handed, Leafs score on PP to go back up, 5-4, Pens tie it at 5-5. Carolina still 3-3 at Montreal with five minutes left.
2:00 left: Miller flat-out robs Datsysuk with the left pad.
57.9 left: That was inevitable. Had to happen. Floater from the point, rebound and banged home by Hudler. Game tied, 2-2. Shots are 15-4 in this period and 34-28 in the game. Sabres just outta gas. But seriously now, how many two-goal leads can a team blow in a season?
8.7 left: Butler with a great chance but MacDonald holds on -- with Niedermayer right there waiting for a rebound to drop.
On to OT: So we're tied at 2-2 as the Sabres came within 57 seconds of protecting a lead for 29 minutes. Shots were 16-6 in the third for Detroit (35-29 for the game)
Of note: Sabres had 24 hits each of the last two games. Already 11 in this period -- and six by Kaleta. Buffalo also 13-6 on faceoffs. Miller hardly tested.
7:59 p.m: The puck is dropped.
15:29 left: Kaleta driving Wings crazy, getting them all yelling at him but he finally goes too far and gets a kneeing call. Discipline, discipline.
14:50 left: Niklas Kronwell beats Miller but the puck rifles off the post.
13:47 left: Dan Clearly beats Miller high on the backhand -- and pings that one off the bar. The noise rang through the whole building.
12:43 left: Vanek high and wide on the slapper speeding down his off side after a Stafford steal/feed.
12:08 left: Brad Stuart for tripping. Sabres go on first power play. A goal for 3-0 completely changes things and puts Detroit out of it.
11:16 left: Filppula wide on a 2-on-1 after an awful pass by Myers sends Wings away. The short-handed goal bugaboo nearly crops up again.
9:48 left: No goal on the PP and now a penalty, Hecht for holding.
9:17 left: And we got two octopi on the ice. Pavel Datsyuk beats a screened Miller with a quick snapper on his second try after Gaustad blocked the first one. Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 7-5 for Detroit in this period; much better stanza for the Wings as Buffalo has found penalty trouble.
7:15 left: Hudler on a breakaway and Miller makes the stop -- but did it get thorugh his legs and go wide? Close call. Wings really controlling things now. Sabres woke up a sleeping dog.
4:08 left: Great work by Hecht, Vanek and Sekera get the Sabres some momentum back with a good 30 seconds in the Detroit zone. Badly needed. Shots are 9-7 for Detroit in the period.
3:30 left: Out of town, Carolina is in a 3-3 tie at Montreal and Toronto is leading Pittsburgh, 2-1. Yes, you have to watch the Laffs. They're at 61 points, three shy of Buffalo.
3:17 left: Morrisonn pulls one just off the goal line after it hits him and starts bounding past an out-of-position Miller. On replay: It was a sensational play by Morrisonn, as he reached on the backhand and swept the puck away.
End-2nd: Sabres hold on to their 2-1 lead. Shots were 12-7 for Detroit.
7:07 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:00 left: Is it blasphemy to say I absolutely love those Detroit winged wheel jerseys? Whether it's the white they have on tonight or the red. And there are a TON of Detroit jerseys in the stands. Couple folks on Twitter told me Section 304 has been taken over and the upper rows are filled with red. The building is packed, by the way.
16:10 left: As for hockey, MacDonald makes a nice glove grab on a Weber wrister from the point. Shots are 3-2 for Buffalo.
12:15 left: Shots are 5-4 for Buffalo. Stafford looks a little sore on the bench after crashing over MacDonald on a power move to the net. The lines are the same as last night but the defense pairs are interesting: Sekera goes in for Leopold with Montador while Butler stays with Myers. Weber and Morrisonn stay together. The lines are Ennis-Hecht-Stafford, Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta, Vanek-Connolly-Ennis and Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier.
11:34 left: Great shift by Connolly line with several near misses and a couple solid MacDonald saves. Best chance was an open net for Pominville but he puck hopped over his stick. Sabres with good energy again and a 10-4 edge in shots. They've had 39 apiece the last two games. Well on their way again.
7:05 left: Sabres have great chances all over the place and finally capitalize. What a rush by Andrej Sekera, taking a feed from Hecht at the Detroit line and bursting in on the right wing to beat MacDonald high on the backhand. Perfect shot. His second of the season -- first since Nov. 3 against Boston. Sabres lead, 1-0. Shots are 13-6.
5:01 left: I guess Sekera HATED being a scratch. He just roared down the left side into the Detroit side and fed Grier in front. Grier kicks the puck to his stick and stuffs it home for his second in two nights. Sabres lead, 2-0.
4:00 left: Grier scores in consecutive games for first time since Oct. 21-24, 2009 at Florida and Tampa Bay. By the way, Grier is not a guy I'd be thinking about moving and it should be noted he has a no-movement clause anyway. As for Niedermayer .....
End-1st: In a fast-moving affair (an entire period in 34 minutes) with very few whistles, the Sabres leave the ice to a big hand. Shots are 15-7 for Buffalo and they hold their 2-0 lead. Full marks. They were dominant. They're 15-7-2 in their last 22 games but few periods have been that good.