Greetings again from HSBC Arena for the second half of the final home back-to-back on the Sabres' schedule. It's the Sabres and the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres split one in November (Los Angeles-Tampa Bay) and have gone 1-0-1 in the other two (beat Atlanta/lost to Detroit in shootout, beat Atlanta/lost to Nashville in overtime). So a win tonight gives them their first home back-to-back sweep of the season.
There should be big roster news from the warmup (confirming the scratches) so we're starting the live blog early. Keep it here.
6:30 p.m.: The teams take the ice and it is, as we speculated this morning, Mark Mancari and Jordan Leopold who are out tonight with Steve Montador and Jochen Hecht back in the lineup.
7:05 BULLETIN: Darcy Regier just met with the media in the press box and informed us Jordan Leopold will be seeing a hand specialist Monday. He has a broken hand and will definitely miss the rest of the regular season. His status for potential playoff games is uncertain.
Of note: Every score out of town is going the Sabres' way. Carolina down, 3-2, to Tampa Bay. Montreal still down, 1-0, to Washington and Toronto down, 2-1, at Detroit. This could be a big, big night in the standings and suddenly make sixth place a realistic possibility for the Sabres.
8:46 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
17:08 left: McCormick for high sticking. Came right after Miller made three point-blank stops on the first shots of the period for either side.
15:36 left: Grier limps off (right leg). Got tackled with Mark Fayne at the right point and might have gotten a skate.
13:29 left: Faceoff. Brodeur made good stops on Hecht and Pominville, with Hecht's shot leaking through but going just wide of the post.
12:43 left: Old friend Henrik Tallinder goes for tripping.
10:40 left: No clincher on the PP like the Sabres got last night. Still have to work through these last 10 minutes.
6:00 left: Gerbe hauled down hard behind the net by Clarkson but no call. Clock keeps ticking. There's 14 minutes left in Carolina and the Lightning still lead, 3-2.
5:39 left: Grier comes back on and gets hit again. Same leg. Limps off.
2:59 left: Miller stops Tallinder from the point. Shots are 9-5 for the Devils and 29-28 for New Jersey in the game. If he can hold on, Miller would tie his career high with five shutouts on the season.
1:30 left: Clock ticking.
38.7 left: Faceoff on offside. Brodeur out.
10.9 left: Faceoff after icing. Bad call. The Devils made the pass down the ice. It should be over.
0:00: And now it is. A 2-0 win keeps the playoff express on track. Final shots were 30-28 for Devils in Miller's fifth shutout.
Of note: Tampa Bay and Carolina are 2-2 after one. Washington leads Montreal, 1-0, late in the first while Toronto trails, 1-0, at Detroit.
7:57 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
14:10 left: Kovalchuk fires just wide and the puck bounces off the backboards through the crease. Kovalchuk then limped off (was typing..sorry didn't see what happened---update he blocked Vanek's shoot-in with his leg). There are loads of empty seats. Lots of folks stuck outside in the concourses because there's so few whistles. Listen to the two-minute bell, people!
13:00 left: Shots are 6-3 for New Jersey. Devils quite a bit more interested.
12:00 left: Miller with a neat save on an Elias deflection.
11:32 left: Rick Jeanneret has the T-shirt launcher -- and he just made the ice from the press box with two missiles. Dude is dangerous.
10:40 left: Tough hit on Weber by Palmieri. Weber is gimpy going off.
8:27 left: Clarkson alone in front of Miller. Goes to a couple dekes and backhands it wide. Sabres would do well to return to this one. Shots are 20-18. It was 14-3.
6:56 left: They keep showing this dude in a Cleveland Browns jersey dancing on the HD board. He keeps getting booed loudly. Didn't know there was that much Browns hatred here. Not like he's got a Jets, Patriots or Dolphins tog on.
4:25 left: Brodeur with the nifty glove save on Gerbe from the slot.
3:33 left: Ennis for tripping. First penalty of the night.
1:59 left: Elias for boarding after he smacked Pominville in the corner in the New Jersey zone.
End-2nd: Sabres survive to hold their 2-0 lead. Shots were 10-7 for the Devils and 23-19 for Buffalo through two.
7:07 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes-Butler-Montador. Goal: Miller
Devils starters: Elias-Zubrus-Rolston-Tallinder-Fayne. Goal: Brodeur
16:00 left: Hecht is reunited with Vanek and Pominville. The other lines are Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes (for Mancari, who has been returned to Portland), Ennis-Connolly-Stafford and Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier.
15:43 left: That little rat Gerbe sneaks around from behind the to Brodeur's left and fires a laser from the faceoff dot just under the bar. Gerbe's 14th. Sabres lead, 1-0.
13:00 left: Wonder if Ilya Kovalchuk thinks the Devils are done tonight?
10:00 left: Maybe the Devils are. Shots are 9-2 for Buffalo.
8:00 left: This baby is flying with no whistles basically. We've played 12 minutes in 15 minutes of real time.
4:38 left: We finally have a whistle. Shots are 11-3. Devils look pretty disinterested. Wow. Just lost 10 minutes, 14 seconds with no whistles! This is the first TV timeout. Crazy. Looks like Hecht is now between Stafford and Ennis.
3:43 left: Vanek pops home a Pominville rebound from the edge of the crease after Connolly wins a faceoff. Sabres lead, 2-0. Shots are 14-3. Devils playing exactly like Kovalchuk said. They're done. Vanek's first goal since March 13.
2:00 left: Miller takes a slapper right off the mask from Brian Rolston. He's a little stunned. Takes the mask off at the whistle.
:32 left: Miller's best save on Nick Palmieri from in tight.
End-1st: Sabres hold their 2-0 lead but Devils came on in the last three minutes. Shots were 16-9.
taggedSabres game day