The playoff race continues tonight in HSBC Arena as the Sabres meet the running-for-the-offseason Florida Panthers. Will be definitely keeping an eye on the out-of-town board tonight as the Hurricanes are in Tampa for a 7:30 start and the gasping-for-air Devils are in Pittsburgh at 7. New Jersey is here tomorrow night and the Sabres will just miss the return of Zach Parise.
The Devils are simply running out of time after their miraculous run as they enter tonight's game nine points out with nine games to play and this looks like their do-or-die weekend.
Not much to say about the Sabres' game yet. It's the start of yet another back-to-back, their 18th of 22 this season. The Sabres are 9-7-1 in the first half and 7-8-2 in the second. Buffalo has swept two sets, split 13 and been swept twice.
Keep it here for more updates.
7 p.m: All seven defensemen take the ice for the Sabres. There is a rumor that Tyler Myers is ill but he is taking the warmup. So is Steve Montador. Stay tuned.
7:30 p.m.: Sabres scratch Montador. Myers is in.
Sabres starters: Gerbe (big hand when he was introduced)-Gaustad-Mancari-Butler-Leopold. Goal: Miller
Panthers starters: Booth-Reasoner-Dadonov-Weaver-Garrison. Goal: Vokoun.
9:21 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Gaustad returns to take the draw.
13:43 left: Miller with a nice pad save on Weiss. Shots are 3-2 for Buffalo.
10:48 left: Samsonov for hooking. Sabres need to get a clincher right here.
10:17 left: There you go. Pominville's shot from the point is deflected home by Leopold. What was he doing there? Sabres lead, 3-1.
10:04 left: And that's going to be it for the Panthers. Stafford makes a steal at center ice and puts home an Ennis rebound. His second of the night and 28th of the year. Sabres lead, 4-1. Two goals in 13 seconds.
8:45 left: Mancari goes for slashing. Carolina takes a 3-1 lead in the third at Tampa, which is really struggling of late. Looks like Buffalo lead will remain at three points.
6:19 left: Penalty killed. Shots are 8-4 for Buffalo in this period (29-18 game). This is called taking care of business.
5:00 left: If Sabres hold on -- and they better -- they will improve to 17-16-4 at home. It will mark the first time this year they have more home wins than regulation home losses. Remember, they started here 0-6-1 so they've spent nearly five months climbing back.
2:43 left: The fans are doing the wave. Really? Ugh. OK. At least we get some hip music to it with the Hawaii Five-O theme. But still. Very 80s.
1:30 left: Ennis stopped in tight after a great move to avoid the defense. Good thing he did or he might have lost a knee.
2.5 left: Panthers beat Miller for a meaningless goal to make it 4-2. Evgeny Dadonov.
It's over: A solid 4-2 win. Carolina leading 4-1 with 5:00 left so no change there. Final shots were 32-24 for Sabres.
8:28 p.m. The puck is dropped. AP eagle eye Bob Matuszak spots no David Booth on the Panthers' bench.
17:27 left: Ennis has been a maniac in this game, skating all over the place. He dumps it to Boyes and his backhander is tipped home by Stafford for his team-high 27th. Sabres lead, 2-1. Stafford's first goal since the March 6 overtime winner at Minnesota, a drought of six scoreless games and two missed due to a hamstring strain.
13:35 left: Shots are 5-2 for the Sabres in this period. A good start.
10:00 left: We've played half the period in 12 minutes of real time. Almost no whistles.
9:35 left: Finally a whistle on a Vokoun save. Shots are 7-2 for Buffalo. Booth will not return tonight according to the Panthers.
9:11 left: Weiss for elbowing Gaustad. Pretty high. Looked a little like Crosby-Steckel although this didn't look all that accidental. Gaustad to the room.
8:39 left: Vanek absolutely robbed by Vokoun with the left pad trying to wrap the rebound around the Florida goalie.
7:52 left: Leopold and Connolly avert disaster at the point as Leopold gets back to snuff Ryan Carter's breakaway attempt. The net came popping off behind Miller and Leopold was shaking his left hand going back to the bench.
6:34 left: A dangerous game with the weak Panthers hanging around. Shots are 20-10 for Buffalo (10-4 in this period)
5:02 left: Carolina takes a 2-1 lead in the second period at Tampa Bay.
3:50 left: Gerbe goes for tripping, a quick takedown of Samsonov at center ice.
2:36 left: Miller with his best save of the night, moving to his left to rob Dmitry Kulikov with the glove. Came a few seconds after Weiss' shot was tipped through teh crease but not into the net by MIke Santorelli.
1:38 left: Sabres survive the Florida power play.
1:00 left: Miller stops a Marty Reasoner deflection after some rough work in his own zone by Leopold.
9.4 left: Miller again as Santorelli breaks in through the circle. Shot gap cut to 11-8 by Panthers.
18:37 left: Pominville pounds home a rebound from the edge of the crease after Vanek ends up on his butt in the crease bumped into Vokoun. They ruled he was pushed in there. Sabres lead, 1-0, on Pominville's 19th.
17:42 left: Referee Bill McCreary talked to Panthers coach Pete DeBoer about the goal and said he was going to call a cross-checking penalty on Keaton Ellerby for the bump on Vanek and that's why the goal stood. McCreary, by the way, is working his final regular-season game in Buffalo tonight in a career that dates to 1984. The longtime NHL official is retiring after the season.
15:59 left: Myers certainly looked ill there. Falls to his knees in front of his own net and lets go a weak backhander that's easily intercepted by Sergei Samsonov. He backhands one past a clearly surprised Miller to end the Panthers shutout streak at 135 minutes, 21 seconds. Game tied, 1-1.
14:23 left: Vokoun with the nice stop on Morrisonn and the rebound by Ennis.
12:51 left: The Edge sends its thanks to the Panthers Radio Network for some pregame air time. Longtime NHL defenseman Randy Moller, who played parts of two seasons in the 90s with the Sabres, is the Florida radio voice and his goal calls are wildly popular in the Sunshine State. Moller is best known for his days with the Quebec Nordiques and also played with the New York Rangers before finishing his career with the Panthers in 1995.
11:39 left: Boyes stoned from in front on great Ennis feed. Shots are 8-3 for Buffalo so far as Vokoun has been excellent.
8:30 left: Excellent attention to detail by the game staff to again put NCAA Tournament scores up on the out-of-town board. Just noticed Kansas has an early 25-9 lead on Richmond. So much for the Cinderella.
5:10 left: Not many whistles here. Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari still causing plenty of havoc in the offensive zone. No substitute for hard work. Shots are 9-4.
2:35 left: Kansas is up on Richmond 33-11 and North Carolina leads Marquette, 36-15? No drama for CBS and TBS early, that's for sure. Meanwhile, Carolina and Tampa Bay are 1-1 in the first period.
2:31 left: David Booth to the dressing room for the Panthers after taking a puck to the mouth.
End-1st: Tied at 1-1. Shots were 10-6 for Buffalo. Panthers outscored Buffalo, 8-1, in the first period of their four meetings this season.