SUNRISE, Fla. -- So I log on the Internet and The Buffalo News home page pops up, and right there at the top it reads, "12 degrees." The car gauge on the way to the rink read 86 degrees. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
What's also nice is for once I didn't get sunburned despite lounging on the beach all day. Last year or the year before, I got toasted worse than ever. When I walked in the Sabres' dressing room, Derek Roy immmediately called me Hellboy and kept the nickname up for a week.
Of course, I have two more days of sun, so I can't start bragging about being merely tanned yet. Why spend two days off in Buffalo when you can get your Hemingway on in Key West instead? Definitely excited for that. A huge bonus would be if Kenny Chesney is warming up the band. They usually play in the Keys to get ready for their tour, which kicks off March 17 this year. Either way, sodas, lounging and live music should make all the shoveling when I get home Sunday morning bearable.
Yeah, I know. Tough life.
Well, time to start typing the Notebook. Look in Friday's paper for a story on Sabres players' dads making the journey to the land of sun and fun this week. Back when the puck drops.
6:59 p.m.: No surprises in the goalie matchup with Ryan Miller making his 30th straight start for Buffalo and Tomas Vokoun entering the crease for Florida.
7:25 p.m.: The Sabres will go with their usual starting line of Paul Gaustad in the middle of left wing Rob Niedermayer and right wing Mike Grier. (And once again, for maybe the 900th time, I wrote Grier as Griere the first time. Typed Daniel Briere's name so much during the years that it's a habit I don't think I'll ever break.)
7:36 p.m.: I like that the Panthers do a ceremonial puck drop. That's a fad that should return. It was only some doctors tonight instead of Darth Vader like it was last year or the year before, but fun anyway. Game on.
7:42 p.m.: Aside from a kid below me with dreaded Thundersticks, it's quiet as a library in this joint. Shots are 1-1 with 15:09 left.
7:45 p.m.: And the first commercial comes with no score and the Panthers holding a 3-1 edge in shots. The good thing for the locals is, as usual, most of them stayed away from the rink and aren't watching this early bore. I smell garlic and can't figure out where it's coming from. Not a usual rink smell.
7:47 p.m.: They need to repaint the logos and lines on the ice here. They're pretty faded.
7:52 p.m.: A pair of turnovers by the Panthers give Grier and Gaustad point-blank chances, but Grier fires wide with 10:20 to go and Vokoun stops Gaustad with 9:58 to go. The Sabres are headed to the power play after Scott Timmins trips Tyler Myers with 9:28 to go. Scott Timmins will never be as famous as Timmins, Ont, home to Shania Twain.
7:59 p.m.: The Thundersticks have been joined by cowbells. Ugh. Miller made a nice stop on Chris Higgins' rebound chance with 6:41 to go to keep it scoreless.
8:05 p.m.: Cody McCormick and Darcy Hordichuk wake up the natives with a brief fight with 3:50 left. There's no score, and Buffalo has a 7-5 shot edge.
8:07 p.m.: Jochen Hecht slams the bench door after his point-blank chance gets thwarted when his stick shatters on the shot with 2:40 left.
8:11 p.m.: The teams head to the dressing room tied at 0-0. Buffalo has an 8-5 shot edge. If I were these people in the building, I'd go outside. Oops, last time I told people to go outside I got called every name in the book, so never mind.
8:28 p.m.: A little Jay-Z in the building to start the second.
8:35 p.m.: Not much difference between the first and second periods so far. Each team has three shots through five minutes.
8:43 p.m.: The Foo Fighters cause a stir with 9:48 left. Still no score. Buffalo heads to second commercial with 9:41 left with a 12-9 shot edge. Vokoun's best stop of the period was on Tim Connolly's doorstep backhand with 11:42 to go.
8:47 p.m.: The Sabres finally open the scoring with 9:38 left. Hecht wins a draw in the Florida zone, and Mike Weber's point shot goes off the skate of Timmins and into the net. Maybe Timmins will get famous after all, but he'll never be Sean Bergenheim.
8:53 p.m.: Speaking of Briere, Paul Byron has a little Danny B in him with his stick work and jabs behind the play. Briere is from Gatineau, Quebec, and Byron played juniors there, so maybe it's in the water or something.
8:55 p.m.: Nathan Gerbe gets called for slashing with 3:01 left, giving Florida its first power play.
9 p.m.: Seconds after Tyler Myers hits the crossbar on a breakaway, the Panthers tie the game at 1-1 on a power-play goal with 1:22 to go. Jason Garrison's point shot got tipped past Miller.
9:03 p.m.: Garrison gets credit for the goal.
9:05 p.m.: Teams skate to dressing rooms in a 1-1 tie. Florida has an 18-15 shot edge after taking 13 of the 20 during the period.
9:23 p.m.: The Sabres are 8-2-4 when tied after two. The Panthers are 5-8-3.
9:29 p.m.: Bryan Allen's hook with 15:01 left gives Buffalo a power play.
9:30 p.m.: Wow, 31 of the Panthers' 53 games have been decided by one goal. Buffalo is 12-8-5 in one-goal games. The Panthers are 13-12-6.
9:32 p.m.: Penaly over.
9:37 p.m.: The Sabres take a 2-1 lead with 11:01 to play. Myers dumps the puck into the Florida zone, Jason Pominville recovers behind the net and feeds a wide-open Thomas Vanek in the slot.
9:40 p.m.: Marty Reasoner ties the game with 9:57 to go with a stickside shot from the top of the circles.
9:50 p.m.: Garrison's goal has been changed to Steve Bernier. There's 4:28 left, and it's still 2-2.
9:55 p.m.: Miller makes a glove save with 41.7 seconds left.
9:59 p.m: And we're going to ...
9:59 p.m.: The Sabres finished regulation with a 24-23 shot edge. They are 9-5 in overtimes, while the Panthers are 7-6.
10:03 p.m.: Vokoun stops Hecht's backhand with 2:29 to go. Miller thwarts David Booth with 1:55 left.
10:08 p.m.; Myers' slap shot with 4.5 seconds left gives Buffalo a 3-2 victory.