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Angola's Kaleta can relate to Pegula

Patrick Kaleta is one of you. He grew up in Angola rooting for the Sabres, dreaming of playing for the team. He's been living his dream since 2007 so he knows where Terry Pegula is coming from.

Kaleta's first game as a Sabre was Feb. 22, 2007, the infamous brawl game with Ottawa. Pretty odd that Pegula's first day as owner was also Feb. 22, four years later.

"Listening to him to talk to us in the locker room, I was getting all jacked up sitting here," Kaleta said today. "Not only myself but every player and every fan watching the [news] conference knowing what's going on here should be all pumped up and ready to go."

Kaleta talked about how he rushed to finish his homework to watch Sabres games and would get to stay up late on school nights to watch playoff games. That's the kind of passion Pegula showed yesterday. And when Pegula cried at the sight of Gilbert Perreault, Kaleta knew the crazy feelings the owner was having.

"His dream guy was Gilbert Perreault and mine was Mike Peca," Kaleta said. "I can say that where I first met Peca in the corner of the Pepsi Center and I was kind of like, "Oh my God, he's sitting over there.' It's just kind of a cool feeling and a dream come true and I can relate to that."

Click below for Kaleta's terrific session with reporters today:

Patrick Kaleta

---Mike Harrington

Ruff on tonight: 'There's going to be a lot of emotion'

Sure, there was plenty of talk about hockey in HSBC Arena this morning. The Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers are tied with 60 points so tonight's game is a big one in the standings. Lindy Ruff is shuffling his lines (but some of the forwards weren't on the ice for the optional morning skate so we don't know the combinations). We do know Thomas Vanek is moving to right wing and Tim Connolly will be centering Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford.

But the night will certainly belong to Terry Pegula, in his first game as owner. 

"It should be a lot of fun. There's going to be a lot of emotion in the building," said coach Lindy Ruff. "The game has a lot of a playoff feel to it. They're desperate for a win, we're desperate for a win. We know we need to play well, to play a lot better. We had a great day yesterday and hopefully all that focus goes into tonight's game."

"I'm sure their whole family is going to be here," said Jason Pominville. "We wouldn't want anything better than to get a win for them and a win for us in the standings."

"It's going to be electric," added Thomas Vanek. "It's exciting for the fans, for us. I'm real excited to have a guy that really, really cares. That's always fun. That's all you can ask for."

Ruff said he will keep the same defense pairs as Sunday (meaning Andrej Sekera will again join Craig Rivet as a scratch) but will shuffle some forward lines.

Click below to hear audio from Ruff, Pominville and Vanek.

Lindy Ruff

Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek

---Mike Harrington

Lindy and the players on Terry

The Sabres had practice as normal today following Terry Pegula's press conference (one transaction note: Paul Byron has been returned to Portland). Following the workout, Nathan Gerbe took a drill to the red Sabres eye at center ice and buried something in the ice. Gerbe would not divulge what he did. A bunch of us cynical media types were joking it was the last penny pinched out of the franchise by Tom Golisano but a source tells us it was actually a piece of a puck from last week, as a sign the team is trying to bury the last three games.

Anyway, Pegula met with the team this morning before his press conference and those in the room said he was as emotional with the team as he was at his public gathering. Here are some comments I gathered in the dressing room:

Lindy Ruff

Ryan Miller

Drew Stafford

Jochen Hecht

---Mike Harrington

Perreault: 'He must have loved the way I was playing'

Sabres legend Gilbert Perreault sat with fellow alums a few feet from Terry Pegula when the new owner of the team broke down early in his press conference today recalling his memories of the 1975 Stanley Cup finalists. Like everyone else in the HSBC Arena atrium, it was a moment that caught No. 11 by surprise.

"I knew he was a hockey fan but I was kind of surprised. It was something," Perreault told me after the press conference. "He must have loved the way I was playing and loved our team.

"He's willing to spend a lot of money. This franchise has been here for 40 years and we're due for a Cup. It would be great. It takes a while to build a team. Right now, what the team needs I don't know. I watch them on TV once in a while and I'm sure Darcy Regier and Lindy [Ruff] know what to do."

Among the other prominent alumni joining Perreault in the atrium were Danny Gare, Larry Playfair, Derek Smith, former coach Joe Crozier and ex-players/current broadcasters Mike Robitaille and Rob Ray.

"It was pretty awesome," Gare said of Pegula's tribute to his old favorites. "He got so emotional too and it was one of the neatest things I've ever seen from an owner. Gilbert was shocked. I was sitting next to him and he was shocked. He was like, "Thank you, I appreciate that.' "

--Mike Harrington

Pegula makes the Cup his goal

Terry Pegula cried today while saying hello to his hero. Then, he became one to Sabres fans.

The Buffalo Sabres' new owner made two things clear today during his introductory news conference. One is that he has loved the team since 1975. He used to have friends in Olean put their telephone to the television when he lived out of town just so he could hear the game broadcasts. When he looked to his right today in HSBC Arena and saw Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault, he broke down in tears and told the legendary center he was his hero.

Pegula followed up by telling the fans who don't own the team exactly what they wanted to hear.

"The Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence is to win the Stanley Cup," the 59-year-old said. "We will aspire to be the best in the league at finding, developing and keeping players in the Buffalo Sabres family."

Pegula said starting today there will be no financial mandates on the hockey team, which has a history of monetary restraints. He promised to increase the scouting and player development departments to achieve his goal of winning the Cup.

"If I want to make some money, I'll go drill a gas well," said Pegula, who became a billionaire in the natural gas market. "We're not in this to save money."

Pegula expressed support for coach Lindy Ruff and General Manager Darcy Regier, saying they will stay with the organization. Pegula also introduced former Penguins executive Ted Black as the Sabres' new president.

Pegula was joined at the news conference by his wife, Kim, and his children Michael, Laura, Jessie, Kellie and Matthew.

"He's committed as anybody's ever been to bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "He believes in Buffalo."

---John Vogl

Photos from today's news conference


For photos from today's news conference, go to this gallery.

Video: Terry Pegula news conference

Review the Terry Pegula news conference at HSBC Arena here:

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Welcome to Pegula Day

Stick with for the latest Terry Pegula coverage, including live streaming of the 11 a.m. press conference on the home page and Sully's live post-presser chat. And catch up on today's stories here:

----Welcome to Pegulaville. The new owner takes over today.

----Jerry Sullivan's open letter to the new owner. It's a must-read for all of you. It better be one for him too.

---Tim Connolly's days look numbered as a Sabre. The trade deadline is Monday. Get a draft pick for him, Darcy.

And if you missed our look back at the history of Sabres ownership, check it out here:

---Mike Harrington

All quiet in Pegulaville

The Sabres were on the ice for only about 30 minutes today and coach Lindy Ruff lightened the mood some with a 4-on-4, overtime-style scrimmage to close practice. The Sabres have dropped three straight for the first time since Halloween week, scoring just two goals in the process.

"We didn't make some plays that were waiting there for us, some plays you would make when you're going real well,'" Ruff said of Sunday's 2-1 loss to Washington. "When things aren't going well, you're shooting when you should be passing and sometimes you're passing or overhandling when you should be getting it on the net."

There was no sign of Terry Pegula in the building although it's known he was here during practice. Players had not met him and employees were in normal team casual wear with no indication of a staff meeting. Chairs were prepared in the media room but that is not all that unusual as many functions are held there. Players left the building as normal after practice. Team staff was going about business as usual.

Asked if he was expecting to talk to Pegula today, Ruff said, "I have no plans right now. I get out of here today and I'll see what happens."

Andrej Sekera continued to skate today with Craig Rivet on the scratch defensive pair. Ruff said he didn't know if that would continue for Wednesday's game against Atlanta.

---Mike Harrington

Bettman to attend Pegula's press conference

The Sabres have officially confirmed that Terry Pegula's introductory press conference will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m in the atrium of HSBC Arena. No surprise there. That's been the scuttlebutt the last few days.

The extra piece is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be on hand to welcome the league's newest owner. Bettman was here in 2003 when Tom Golisano completed his purchase of the team from the league, which ran the franchise during the bankruptcy era. This one will certainly a much happier day for the commish with the Sabres' future in Buffalo now locked in for decades to come.

The Sabres' release says Pegula will not be making any public comments about his purchase from Golisano until tomorrow's presser.

---Mike Harrington

Vote for your three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres vs. Caps

Good early afternoon from HSBC Arena as the Sabres get their Hockey Day in America game on against the Caps. Faceoff is expected to be just about at the stroke of 12:30 so be ready. And remember, it's an NBC game, not MSG or Versus.

The Caps will be sitting out standout defenseman Mike Green for the fourth straight game. He has been dealing with some inner ear trauma. Semyon Varlamov (9-8-4, 2.32, .921) will start in goal, which means Michal Neuvirth (17-9-4, 2.53, .910) likely gets Monday's showdown in Pittsburgh. The Sabres, of course, will again go with Ryan Miller (24-17-5, 2.74, .910).

The trade deadline is looming, as John Vogl wrote in today's paper after chatting with Darcy Regier Saturday in Amherst's Northtown Center.  And be sure to check out Bucky Gleason's Inside the NHL column for more chatter on what the Sabres might do and what might happen around the league.

Want another sign it's coming next week? Check out today's press box roster. There are 23 scouts listed from 20 teams. Now, many of them are Toronto-based and come here all the time. But it is pretty unusual to see two here from Anaheim and one from Vancouver. The teams represented look like this: Montreal (2 scouts), Edmonton (2), Anaheim (2), Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, San Jose, Chicago, Florida, Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, Colorado, Ottawa, St. Louis, Dallas, Carolina, Nashville, Colorado, Boston, Philadelphia. Whew.

Also starting today at 12:30 are Philadelphia at the NY Rangers and Detroit at Minnesota. The national telecast on NBC at 3:30 features still Sidney Crosby-less at Chicago. And at 6 p.m. on Versus and CBC is the Heritage Classic outdoors from Calgary pitting the Flames and Montreal Canadiens. Figures to be great fun.

Rob Niedermayer is back in the Sabres' lineup today. For what that's worth. We'll see who's out when the Sabres hit the ice for warmup. Stay tuned.

Update: Niedermayer is on the ice. But so are Byron, Kaleta and Butler. So no idea who the scratches are yet.

Update II: If you're reading from out of town and can't watch on NBC because of the regional telecasts, you CAN see the game as is streaming all the action.

---Mike Harrington

BULLETIN: Andrej Sekera is a healthy scratch for today's game. About time. He has been brutal for games on end and that terrible giveaway on the first shift Friday set the tone for the entire game. He's also had no points -- not even an assist -- in the last 19 games. Also scratched are Paul Byron and Craig Rivet. Do we really need to even mention Rivet anymore? 

Sabres starters: Niedermayer-Gaustad-Grier-Weber-Morrisonn. Goal: Miller.
Capitals starters: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble-Alzner-Carlson. Goal: Varlamov.

Third Period

2:19 p.m.; After the pathetic Internet service here basically shut down and helped lock my laptop for the whole intermission, we're back at it.

17:37 left: Perreault goes for hooking. 

15:00 left: No shots on the PP, barely any zone time.

13:06 left: Clock running, not much happening. Varlamov stops Connolly on a good rush. Shots are 3-1 for Buffalo in the period.

12:25 left: What's up at this end of the rink? A crazy bounce from the glass on the other side nearly caught Varlamov off guard.

10:45 left: Morrisonn for interference on Hendricks along the boards. I guess. But I'd like that called every time it happens, not with 11 minutes left in a tie game when we haven't seen it more than, say, once a month.

9:40 left: Perreault bangs home an Ovechkin rebound -- (looked tipped by Johansson?). It was a sensational rush by the Great Eight, who knocked the puck out of the air in his zone with his stick and did a between-the-legs, behind-the-back glove grab to set the puck at his feet and get started. Caps lead, 2-1.

8:20 left: The goal is, in fact, credited to Johansson.

3:15 left: Gerbe stopped by Varlamov. Shots 9-5 for Buffalo. Sabres need to somehow squeeze a point out of this game. Two goals in three home games to start this stand simply doesn't get the job done.

57.2 left: Miller out. Faceoff in Washington zone after Ovechkin steals from Ennis and shoots ice-length backhand wide. Not a great play.

13.7 left: Another icing after Leopold zhitniks one high and wide from the point after a good play at the opposite point by Connolly. Timeout, Lindy.

It's over: A 2-1 loss. An 0-3 homestand thus far with just two goals. Terrible. Shots were 11-5 for Buffalo in the third and 39-29 for Washington in the game.

Second Period

Of note: Sabres forwards had just three of the eight shots in the first period (one each for Vanek, Pominville and Hecht). Montador had two of the defense's five. ... The Caps' power play is oddly poor this season. It entered today 23rd in the NHL overall at 16.5 percent (22nd at home, 17.0; 18th on road, 15.8). The Sabres entered 16th on the PK (81.5 percent) -- 18th at home and 18th on the road. It was pretty good in the first period with nine shots on goal. Miller, of course, made the difference for Buffalo.

1:27 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

16:08 left: Pretty tight so far. Just looked at the ice time in the first period. Forwards don't get shots when they're not on the ice due to penalties. Stafford (4:32), Vanek (4:42), Pominville (3:38), Gerbe (2:26) and Ennis (2:58) all got their time whacked. Pominville, in fact, played 1:11 of short-handed time.

13:51 left: After all that he did in the first period, Miller is confounded by the glass in his own rink. Puck bounces right off the zamboni entrance in front of Ennis, who was expecting it to go around the boards. Instead, it bounces right in the slot to a wide oepn Mathieu Perreault, who bangs it home for his seventh. Caps lead 1-0.

12:45 left: Shots are 24-11 for the Caps. Miller has far-and-away been the best player on the ice. He needs his teammates to give him some rewards.

11:40 left: Laich goes for goaltender interference. Definitely took out Miller and the crowd had plenty of sarcastic cheers when ref Dave Jackson's hand went up. Buffalo's first power play.

8:18 left: After yet another slowdown and finally an outage of perhaps the NHL's worst press box Internet service, I can tell you the Sabres tied it at 1-1 on Pominville's slapshot on the PP at 8:52. Cross-ice pass from Vanek and a big shot that whizzed over Varlamov's left shoulder. He might have been screened by Scott Hannan skating by. Game is tied at 1-1. Shots are 25-14 for Washington.

3:36 left: Vanek stopped on backhand in alone by Varlamov after a great play by Hecht, who took out a breaking Ovechkin in the Buffalo zone and then fed the puck up ice.

2:44 left: Shots are 31-16 for Washington (15-8 in this period). That's 30 saves for Miller in 37+ minutes.

1:42 left: Miller stops Boyd Gordon in alone after Gordon lost the puck slightly trying to make a move.

End-2nd: Shots were 18-10 for the Caps and 34-18 through two. Game tied, 1-1.

First Period

12:35 p.m.: After the anthems were done and we waited two minutes for NBC to give the go-ahead (what happened to 12:30?), we can now say the puck is dropped.

14:12 left: Shots are 3-3 in the early going with Kaleta trying to get the library-quiet crowd into things with a few hits. Varlamov made a solid save on a Vanek one-timer and Miller made a good stop on Semin. 

13:38 left: Outgoing minority owners Larry Quinn were just thanked for their service on the HD board. They got underwhelming applause at best. And, of course, no sign of Tom Golisano. But he's watching on TV of course. 

12:41 left: A Pominville slapshot leaks through Varlamov's pads but Jeff Schultz sweeps it away out of the crease.

11:10 left: Miller stops Steckel from in tight after a bad Myers giveaway a few seconds earlier. The big guy isn't too far from Sekera territory the way he's been going lately. Shots are 7-4 for the Caps.

9:10 left: Another good shift from the Gaustad line, with a big steal by Niedermayer setting up pressure in the zone. It ends with Gaustad slamming his stick on the end glass as he just missed a puck whizzing through the crease off the back boards.

8:47 left: Hecht for elbowing. Ticky-tack call against Alzner along the boards in front of Buffalo bench.

7:28 left: Miller a rock so far on this power play. He stops Laich from in tight, adds a glove save on Backstrom from the slot after Ovechkin undressed Connolly at the Buffalo line and a stop on Carlson from the point. All good chances.

6:40 left: Sabres survive as Miller makes a good stop on Ovechkin just after Hecht returns. Shots are 11-6, Caps.

6:21 left: Myers for boarding after a huge shot on Boyd Gordon. Jeez. It's not a tennis match.

5:55 left: Gaustad for cross checking and Lindy Ruff just went beserk on the bench. Grabbed a stick and starting banging the boards. Another marginal call at best.

5:11 left: Miller makes his best save seemingly in weeks, robbing Backstrom with the glove just to the left of the crease after a howitzer from the point by Ovechkin.

4:19 left: Miller with more robbery on Backstrom on a rebound off the back boards. The crowd is up. No. 30 has to be the best player in situations like this and so far, he is.

3:30 left: Sabres survive and get a big hand from the crowd. Shots are 14-6.

1:54 left: Morrisonn for cross-checking near the Buffalo net. Killed a 2-on-1 break. Stephane Auger, notorious as one of the worst officials in the NHL, is not high on anyone's list so far in this one.

End-1st: Marcus Johansson just fails to tip one home at the buzzer after a terrible giveaway by Connolly in the final three seconds. Get that guy outta here. Shots are 16-8 for Washington.

Five + five = 10 things to know about the game

Here are a few facts about the Sabres-Capitals game that starts in less than two hours, courtesy of the team-supplied game notes.

From the Sabres:


This is Buffalo’s third game of a season-high six game homestand… Paul Gaustad will play in his 400th career NHL game today…Buffalo has now lost two games in a row for the first time since Dec. 23 vs. FLA and Dec. 27 @ CGY… Drew Stafford has 12 points (9+3) in his last nine games… Friday’s 3-0 defeat to St. Louis was just Buffalo’s fourth shutout loss of the season; first since Nov. 24.

From the Caps:


Hockey Day in America –In light of this weekend’s celebration of the sport of hockey across America, it’s important to note there are four current Capitals who originally hail from the United States: forwards Matt Hendricks (Blaine, Minn.) and David Steckel (Milwaukee, Wisc.) and defensemen John Carlson (Natick, Mass.) and Tom Poti (Worcester, Mass.).

Back-to-Backs –The Capitals are in the midst of a stretch that will seem them play three consecutive sets of back-to-back games. After splitting a set at Anaheim (7-6 win on Wednesday) and San Jose (3-2 loss on Thursday), they now play in Buffalo today and at Pittsburgh on Monday. After that, the team does not play again until hosting the Rangers on Friday and playing at the Islanders next Saturday. The Capitals are 3-4-2 in the first games of back-to-backs and 3-5-1 in the second game.

Not Getting Five –Goaltender Michal Neuvirth has played the most games of any NHL goalie this season without allowing more than four goals in a game. In 34 games in 2010-11, Neuvirth has not allowed more than five goals in a game.

Heating up –Alex Ovechkin has recorded a goal and an assist in each of the last two games and has nine points (4-5-9) in the last seven games. Thursday at San Jose, the captain also finished with seven shots on goal, four hits and logged over 20 minutes of ice time for the 11th straight game. Ovechkin leads the Caps with 60 points (23-37-60) in 59 games.

Hat Trick Hero –Alexander Semin recorded his seventh career hat trick and fourth of the season in Wednesday’s wild 7-6 victory over Anaheim. Semin tied the game at 6 midway through the third period with his second goal of the game, then completed the trick by netting the game-winning goal with under two minutes to play. Semin joins Buffalo’s Drew Stafford as the only NHL players with four hat tricks this season and is the first Capital with four three-goal games in a season since Peter Bondra in 1995-96.

---John Vogl

Vanek gets stunned at practice

The Sabres lost left wing Thomas Vanek for about eight minutes near the end of today’s practice. He was struck by a puck during a drill.

"He got hit where you don’t want to get hit," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He’s all right, though."

Vanek crumpled to the ice in Northtown Center in Amherst and was helped to the bench. He squatted and tried to stand while being attended to by athletic trainer Tim Macre. He returned for the final few minutes of the session.

Most of it was spent working on passing and being ready to receive passes.

"We just tried to get on the same page. We weren’t working together the last couple games, and it shows up," Ruff said. "The last two games it’s turned into some individual efforts that we’ve hung onto pucks too long, we’ve tried to carry pucks too long. The big part of our game is our passing. If our passing isn’t sharp, we don’t come up the ice very well. I thought our passing might have been at a season low.

"There were some situations last night where our 'D,' they were looking at the backs of our forwards. Our forwards weren’t in good support. You don’t have a lot of outs then. We take a lot of pride in trying that our 'D' should have four outs.’’

---John Vogl

Niedermayer to return to lineup

Rob Niedermayer, still in search of his first goal and scratched for the first time Friday in the 3-0 loss to St. Louis, will return to the lineup Sunday against Washington, coach Lindy Ruff said today.

Niedermayer has yet to score in 47 games for Buffalo and gave way to center Paul Byron on Friday.

"Anytime you lose games like that, there’s going to be changes to the lineup, so you’ve just got to be ready when you’re called upon," Niedermayer said in Northtown Center in Amherst. "I’ve got to just try and be a little stronger on the puck and try and limit the turnovers. We’ve got to get a little more zone time in the offensive zone, and that’s when our line [with Mike Grier and Paul Gaustad] is playing the best, so we’ll try and do that."

The goal drought is admittedly bugging the 36-year-old veteran.

"It’s frustrating," Niedermayer said. "You’d like to be contributing, especially at important time of the year right now. It’s frustrating, but all you can do is try your best out there."

Niedermayer is on a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Sabres, which makes him a likely candidate to be included in trade talks. The deadline for deals is Feb. 28.

"You can only concentrate on things you can control," Niedermayer said. "We’re in a real tough playoff race, and that’s all I’m concerned about."

---John Vogl

Live from Blues at Sabres

Greetings from Pegulaville, where the team that has just taken the ice is one step closer to having a new owner. The NHL board of governors has approved Terry Pegula's purchase, and all that's left is the $189 million moving from Pegula's bank account to Tom Golisano's vault.

Bucky Gleason and I were laughing about that today. What do you do, send a Brinks armored car from house to house with a big wad of cash? Write a check? Do it by clicking a button? We weren't sure if either of us had enough cash on us to pay a pizza guy, so how the heck do you pay for a hockey team?

Anyway, the hockey team is making a big change tonight -- Rob Niedermayer is going to watch the game rather than play. The forward -- who has as many goals as me and you combined -- is finally taking a seat after skating in 47 scoreless games. He alternated with Cody McCormick this morning, and coach Lindy Ruff has decided it's time for a benching.

More when the puck drops.

... Oh, by the way, do you feel OK?


7:38 p.m.: The Sabres start with the line of Nathan Gerbe-Jochen Hecht-Jason Pominville, with Andrej Sekera-Tyler Myers on defense. Ryan Miller is in goal against Ty Conklin.

7:48 p.m.: Each team is 0 for 1 on the power play, as the first commercial hits with 12:41 to go. St. Louis has a 3-2 shot edge. The Sabres acknowledge Army Sgt. Patrick Allen, who is at the game courtesy of Chris Butler's Tickets for Troops program.

7:54 p.m.: The Blues have a 5-4 shot edge with 8:31 to go. The best chance so far belongs to Cody McCormick, who forced Conklin to make a left toe save. More updates coming soon. Just finishing the A-1 story on the Pegula approval. So, I guess tonight I'm writing in the first period.

8:03 p.m.: The teams hit the final commercial break still knotted at 0-0. St. Louis has an 8-5 edge.


8:43 p.m.: So I was ready to go at the start of the second period, but the Sabres' Internet wasn't (and isn't). Along with Ottawa, this team is the worst in the league. The provider is i-Evolve and in the immortal words of Bart Simpson, they suck and blow.

I had a paragraph that summed up the first period, but that didn't take as the Internet crashed again. Not that it was working much as it was. Anyway, the Blues hold a 1-0 lead with 10:21 left in the first. TJ Oshie scored with 17:13 left.

8:48 p.m.: It's still 1-0 St. Louis with 7:25 to go. The Sabres are going on the power play. The worst part is the Sabres have known for a long time this Internet is awful. Why do anything about, though, who needs the Internet to work?

8:53 p.m.: St. Louis kills the penalty as the fans boo with the Sabres failing to take a shot.

8:56 p.m.: The guy working for i-Evolve just set me up with a hardline for the Internet. Internet has been awful since they came in. The Sabres said they warned them last season they would toss them if the service didn't improve, but the Sabres are good at saying things and not doing anything. (I'm talking organizationally, not hockey-wise. I can keep the two separate.)

8:58 p.m.: I was in such a good mood, too.

9 p.m.: Mike Weber goes for tripping with 2:29 left, giving the Blues a power play.

9:02 p.m.: David Backes gives the Blues a 2-0 lead with a power-play slap shot over Miller's left shoulder with 1:22 left.

9:04 p.m.: Boos and a 2-0 deficit accompany the Sabres to the dressing room. They do have an 18-16 shot edge, though.


9:21 p.m.: The Sabres are 4-20-1 when trailing after two periods. The Blues are just 15-3-1 when leading after two.

9:31 p.m: Patrick Kaleta wakes up the crowd with a big hit on Carlo Colaiacovo with 14:27 to go. The Blues defenseman dumped the puck out from behind his net, kept going and got crushed along the boards.

9:42 p.m.: Judging by all the boos, the Pegula takeover can't come soon enough. The Blues hold a 2-0 lead with 9:34 left. The Sabres have just four third-period shots against a team that traded its captain today.

9:48 p.m.: Fans are booing as they head for the exits with 5:26 to go. it's still 2-0, and there are few signs of that changing.

9:55 p.m.: It's mercifully over, with Vladimir Sobotka's empty-net goal giving the Blues a 3-0 win. The Sabres are 0-2-1 in their last three home games.

---John Vogl

NHL approves sale of Sabres to Pegula

The NHL board of governors has voted to approve the sale of the Sabres to Terry Pegula, The Buffalo News has learned. The league is expected to make an official announcement this evening.

Pegula's introductory news conference is expected to be held Tuesday morning in HSBC Arena. Pegula agreed to purchase the Sabres from B. Thomas Golisano for $189 million earlier this month.

---John Vogl

Amerks hurting for fans

The Rochester Americans are obviously are a forgotten team in Buffalo. The Sabres moved their minor-league team to Portland in 2008, so the Pirates get all the play around here.

It seems the Amerks don't get much love in Rochester, either.

The team ranks 27th in attendance in the 30-team AHL, drawing just 3,536 fans per game to the 11,000-seat Blue Cross Arena. As Kevin Oklobzija of the Democrat and Chronicle wrote today, that would have been a bad season-ticket base in the 1990s, let alone the total attendance.

The Amerks have made a video to draw attention to their plight using former players Jody Gage, Scott Metcalfe, Jim Hofford, Geordie Robertson, Gates Orlando and Ted Nolan, who all live in the community. One of the reasons they cite for lack of fan interest is the team's affiliation with Florida instead of Buffalo. The Amerks were sixth in AHL attendance at 6,835 during their final season with the Sabres (2007-08).

"I don’t see too many people wearing Florida Panthers hats around town," Metcalfe told the D&C. "No matter who it was, Razor (Rob Ray), Barney (Matt Barnaby), Bouch (Philippe Boucher), everybody that came through here, the fans could follow up to the Sabres."

---John Vogl

Busy day so far in Northeast

Three-fifths of the Northeast Division has made a trade so far today, with the biggest move being Boston's acquisition of Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Kaberle has been in trade talks for well over a year, and he finally waived his no-trade clause to join the Bruins. Kaberle, who is the second all time in scoring among Leafs defensemen behind Borje Salming (and his cool helmet), goes to Boston in exchange for Joe Colborne, a first-round draft pick and a conditional pick, TSN has reported.

To clear room for Kaberle, the Bruins have sent defenseman Mark Stuart and forward Blake Wheeler to Atlanta for center Rich Peverley and defenceman Boris Valabik.

Ottawa, meanwhile, picked up goaltender Craig Anderson from Colorado in exhange for netminder Brian Elliott.

The Sabres and Montreal are the two division teams that have not made a deal today.

---John Vogl

Montador, Sabres ready for Blues

The Sabres are getting one of their top defensemen back tonight, with Steve Montador ready to returning following a five-game, concussion-related absence.

"We’ve certainly taken the patient route, but it’s tough to watch hockey," Montador said this morning after preparing to face St. Louis in HSBC Arena. "I did it early in my career, and I gained another perspective and appreciation for the guys that have to sit and watch because they’re basically doing what you want to be doing. It’s not easy. It’s a chance to learn a lot, but you really get the itch every game."

Montador has four goals, 11 assists and a plus-9 rating in 51 games. He will rejoin blue-line partner Jordan Leopold. The other defensive pairs will be Shaone Morrisonn with Mike Weber, and Tyler Myers with Andrej Sekera. Chris Butler returns to the sidelines after filling in for Montador.

Captain Craig Rivet will also be a blue-line scratch, but he made an impact this morning by addressing the players on the ice after coach Lindy Ruff chatted with them. He wanted the team to be clear this is an important stretch.

To hear Ruff's thoughts on Montador, Butler and Blues goaltender Ty Conklin, click the audio file below.

---John Vogl

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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 |

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 |

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 |