Greetings from high atop HSBC Arena for Opening Night II, also known as Terry Pegula's unveiling. It's the Sabres and the Atlanta Thrashers in a key game with the teams deadlocked at 60 points.
A few signs at one end by Sections 313-314: "In Pegula We Trust" as well as "Welcome Back Home, Terry!" and "Tom, Thanks for the Ride, The Fans." Above 326 is a sign with the Sabres logo that simply says, "Hockey Heaven."
Darcy Regier will be speaking to the media in a few minutes regarding the Craig Rivet situation. The teams are skating to different warmup music than we have heard each night. It's still too loud but maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddy. Stay tuned.
A new opening video is playing
7 p.m.: Pegula crying on the HD board with old film of Perreault running. Crowd hushed. Crowd applauds at "You're my hero."
7:01 p.m.: Pegula saying the team's existence is to win the Stanley Cup gets a huge roar.
7:02 p.m. "Welcome to the new era of Buffalo Sabres hockey," the board says as the players take the ice.
7:03 p.m: Buffalo starters announced: Ennis-Hecht-Vanek (at right wing)-Leopold-Montador-Miller.
7:04 p.m.: Doug Allen time.
7:07 p.m.: "Ter-ry, Ter-ry" chants as the anthems end.
7:08 p.m: Little skit with the French Connection reading TBN (thanks guys) before Pegula takes the ice to a standing ovation that lasts a minute and the French Connection comes out, no introduction necessary, in white classic jerseys drawing another roar. Pegula is joined by his two sons. Arm around Robert, they pose for pictures and Pegula is clearly emotional. Pegula moves between Perreault and Martin as the crowd roars again.
7:10 p.m. Pominville and Atlanta's Andrew Ladd at center ice as Matthew Pegula, 11, drops the first puck of his father's new era. Pegula's wife and daughters watched from the penalty box area.
7:13 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:06 left: Sabres all over Le Thrash from the puck drop. Ennis finally converts a Hecht wraparound for his 13th. First goal in 11 games. Sabres lead, 4-1.
14;01 left: Sabres in coast mode with a three-goal lead. It took a looooong time for them to heat up in this one but the bottom line is the bottom line and it's a good one so far.
12:00 left: Terry Pegula's MSG interview was shown on the HD board between periods. He had no idea the French Connection was coming out? There have been no other Pegula sightings on the board tonight. He's low-keyed it. His daughters are said to be in the 100 level.
8:00 left: Rene Robert did the 50-50 draw and screamed into the mic, "Welcome to Pegulatown!" He didn't want to get within miles and miles of Golisano and Quinntown. Nor did they want him around. A new feeling indeed.
5:53 left: Coast mode. Sabres will have 62 points. They will be three behind idle Carolina with two games in hand and six behind the Rangers with three games in hand.
2:00 left: Shots are 39-36 for Buffalo.
59.0 left: Now it's 40-39 Atlanta after a sparking glove grab on Enstrom. Easy to forget Miller tonight. But that's a 39-save effort. Four straight solid ones for him.
It's over: A 4-1 win puts Pegula at 1-0 as an owner as the crowd roars through the final few seconds. Final shots were 41-39 for Atlanta.
8:04 p.m; We're under way. A couple eagle-eyes on Twitter point out Vanek has an 'A' and Hecht does not. We'll see after the game if there's any significance there. The team sometimes switches the As on the road but Hecht seems to have one most nights. I have no idea where the Pegulas are sitting. They are not in the owner's box that Tom Golisano used. The "Tweetybird Twins" tweeted earlier they would be in the stands. No idea if that's where Terry and Kim Pegula are too.
18:03 left: Tobias Enstrom for delay of game for the Thrashers. Here are photos from the pregame ceremony from The News' Jim McCoy.
10:38 left: I might be back on line. I might not be. Hopefully Terry Pegula and Ted Black will send I-Evolve packing (whoever they are) and bring in a real Internet provider to this building and not this amateur outfit. The game is tied at 1-1 after Andrew Ladd scored at 5:31, 13 seconds after a Shaone Morrisonn interference penalty. The crowd booed the Sabres lustily at the 11-minute mark. Paul Gaustad and Mark Stuart just fought.
9:40 left: Shots are 10-9 for Atlanta in this period. Sabres lulling everyone to sleep. Probably the Pegulas too.
9:21 left: Chris Thornburn for goalie interference.
8:00 left: Reports on Twitter that at least some of Pegula's family are in the 100 level behind the Bufaflo bench.
7:30 left: Power play booed again after two giveaways.
6:52 left: McCormick goes with ex-Sabre Eric Boulton.
5:50 left: Butler for slashing.
1:08 left: Gaustad goes hard to the net, Pavelec makes one stop and Gaustad beats Mark Stuart to the rebound, banging it home for the go-ahead goal. His ninth. THAT is the kind of effort this team needs to see. Sabres lead, 2-1.
37.9 left: Pominville pounds home a Myers rebound aftger the big guy's shot from the point clubbed Pavelec right in the mask. Pominville's 15th. Sabres lead, 3-1. Finally, some noise.
15;32 left: Shots are 3-1 for Atlanta. How about the Sabres coming out flying with the boost from Pegula? Next case. Isn't happening.
13:56 left: Craig Rivet requested a trade is the story Darcy Regier gave us a few minutes ago. And he's sticking to it. That's why the captain is on waivers. By the way, there's no sign of Pegula yet in the owner's box. The service elevator wasn't working within the last hour, which happens here from time to time. Maybe Pegula can get that fixed while he gets some real Internet service in the press box too.
12:47 left: Shots were 6-2 for Atlanta and not much was happening on the ice or in the crowd. But big Tyler Myers changes that, grabbing the puck at center ice and bursting into the Thrashers' zone to beat Ondrej Pavelec with a booming slapshot. His ninth. Unassisted. Sabres lead, 1-0.
9:31 left: Shots are 8-4 for the Thrashers. Sabres lead but count me unimpressed with the adrenalin rush they got from having a new owner.
8:54 left: Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien goes for delay of game as he swats the puck out of mid-air and it goes high just over the glass into the stands between the benches.
5:25 left: Pominville gone for hooking.
1:43 left: Miller's best save, point-blank on Byfuglien on a 2-on-1.
End-1st: Sabres lead, 1-0. Shots are 10-10.