MONTREAL -- Greetings from the best place in the world to see a hockey game. There are a few Sabres staffers in town and in Bell Centre for the first time, and I told them there is no other place like it. Sorry, Ted Black, but this is Hockey Heaven. Of course, it helps that they invented the game. The only bad part is they don't let you forget it.
Anyway, the goaltending matchup is Ryan Miller versus Carey Price. A huge roar from the 21,273 fans just went up when Price was shown on the scoreboard.
There aren't too many places in the United States I haven't been, but I made my inaugural appearance in Vermont on Monday. Flights to Montreal are ridiculously priced, so I flew to Burlington and drove the 100 minutes to Montreal. It was pretty easy, though it wouldn't be in December or January.
Burlington is exactly as I pictured it: quaint. Hills topped with church steeples, trees galore, old-New England feel, covered bridges across flowing rivers. Postcard stuff.
Anyway, it's almost game time.
7:40 p.m.: The Sabres start the game with Tim Connolly between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, with Chris Butler and Jordan Leopold on defense.
7:42 p.m.: Andrej Sekera and Tyler Myers are still a defense pairing.
7:46 p.m.: Montreal gets the first power play, with Brad Boyes going for tripping with 14:50 left.
7:49 p.m.: Miller stops six shots during the penalty kill to keep it scoreless at the first commercial break. Montreal has an 8-2 shot edge with 12:39 to go. These fans like P.K. Subban almost as much as I like Dunn's smoked meat and Sortilege maple whiskey. Had a little (OK, a lot) of both Monday night.
7:52 p.m.: Buffalo gets its first chance on the power play with Hal Gill tripping Tim Connolly with 12:10 to go.
7:55 p.m.: The Habs kill the penalty.
7:59 p.m.: Subban interferes with Pominville with 8:07 to play.
8:02 p.m.: Miller makes a solid glove grab on Michael Cammalleri with 5:29 left to send the teams to the last commercial scoreless.
8:09 p.m.: Scott Gomez's pass to Brian Gionta at the top of the crease gets fired over the net to keep it scoreless with 3:58 to go.
8:13 p.m.: And the teams head to intermission knotted at 0-0. Montreal has a 12-8 shot edge.
8:31 p.m.: Game on.
8:33 p.m.: The Sabres get the man-advantage again with Patrick Kaleta's buddy Paul Mara cross-checking Paul Gaustad with 17:51 left.
8:35 p.m.: The power play last just 1:04 as Vanek gets whistled for goalie interference with 16:47 to go.
8:39 p.m.: Sabres back up a man with 14 minutes to go when Alexandre Picard trips Nathan Gerbe, just seconds before Price stones Jordan Leopold from close range.
8:41 p.m.: Still scoreless at the first commercial break with 11:56 to go. Montreal has a 15-13 shot edge.
8:45 p.m.: Gerbe opens the scoring with 11:04 left, skating through the slot and tipping Myers' slap pass from the point.
8:48 p.m.: It's still 1-0 with second commercial break hitting with 8:31 left.
8:54 p.m.: More chants of "Carey, Carey" go up as Price gets a pad on Tyler Ennis' shot with 5:11 to go. Still 1-0 lead for Buffalo.
9:04 p.m.: Habs supply intense pressure in final minute, but Sabres skate to dressing room with 1-0 lead intact. Montreal has a 22-19 shot edge.
9:21 p.m.: The Sabres are 19-2-3 when leading after two periods, while the Habs are 1-23-2 when trailing after two.
9:27 p.m.: The fast-paced hockey is finally interrupted by a commercial with 14:28 to go and the Sabres still up 1-0.
9:29 p.m.: The Sabres need to win to keep pace with the seventh-place Rangers, who beat Florida, 1-0. Carolina holds a 4-3 lead over Ottawa with three minutes left.
9:32 p.m.: The Sabres head to the power play after James Wisniewski gets called for hooking with 12:07 to go.
9:46 p.m.: Sabres hold a 1-0 lead with 2:54 to go at final commercial.
9:54 p.m.: Gerbe scoress into an empty net with 21.3 seconds left to give the Sabres a 2-0 victory.