BOSTON -- Greetings from Level 9 atop the TD Garden for tonight's game against the Zdeno Charas, er, the Boston Bruins. Seems like that's all we've been talking about today and all anybody in the building is talking about. So I get upstairs to my seat here and what am I next to? A black stanchion blocking my view of the net to the left on your television screen. Plenty of room for me to move down a couple and get the view. No stanchions for me.
Be sure to scroll through all of today's posts for the latest on Zdeno Chara. We've had a very busy day on the Edge before a puck is ever dropped. But we are finally going to get to hockey as the Sabres try to pull two points ahead of idle Carolina in the battle for eighth place in the East. The Rangers are also idle. The Sabres will pull even in games with the Hurricanes while Buffalo will have two games in hand over New York when tonight's play is over.
Speaking of Chara, doesn't he have to be on his best behavior tonight? No outbursts like we saw after Game Five of last year's playoff series in HSBC Arena. I'm thinking the Sabres may want to try to agitate him even more than normal. We'll see.
The Bruins have gotten great goaltending all year from Tim Thomas and they're a classic play-from-in-front team. They have outscored their opponents, 60-40, in the first period this season. They are 25-4-4 when scoring first, 22-2-1 when leading after one period and 25-0-1 when leading after two. Wow.
Keep these numbers in mind if we go to overtime tonight. Buffalo is 12-8 when tied after regulation and Boston is just 2-8. The Sabres are 5-1 in shootouts, the Bruins are 1-5. Hmmm.
With all the Chara chatter and pregame prep, you still have to eat at some point. And when you're in Boston, one of the great choices is The Fours on Canal Street right by the Garden. I've been going since 1989 and made it there again this afternoon. Classic stuff. Tremendous Boston-themed memorabilia collection. Voted No. 1 sports bar in America a few years ago in a Sports Illustrated story and a great Boston-themed menu. I'm a veteran of The Bobby Orr, a terrific steak tips sandwich. But today, I got a little daring and took the dive into lobster mac and cheese. Major yum alert.
Now that I'm hungry again, I'll find some of the league's best press box popcorn and hunker down. Keep it here.
Sabres starters: Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier-Montador-Sekera. Goal: Miller
Bruins starters: Paille-Campbell-Thornton-Seidenberg-McQuaid. Goal: Thomas
Overtime recap: SABRES WIN 4-3 as Boyes pots Gerbe's rebound with 1:44 left. It came 25 seconds after Rich Peverley had MIller beat but cranked a shot off the post. Sabres are 8-7 in OT deciders and 2-1 in them on this road trip.
8:59 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:42 left: The Bruins take the lead as Gregory Campbell pounds a loose puck through Miller's legs. Chara let got a big shot from the point that didn't appear to get through but it pinballed right in front of the goalie and Campbell put it home. Looked like it hit Campbell, hit another player and bounced right back to Colin's son. Bruins lead, 3-2.
16:35 left: Recchi for high sticking.
16:18 left: Marchand for tripping Sekera, who went down awfully easily. Timeout Lindy. Two-man for 1:44. The Sabres have to tie the game here.
14:55 left: And they do. Good pressure. And Connolly pokes one home on Buffalo's third shot. Game tied, 3-3. Connolly had not scored in 14 games. That's his ninth of the season. Game tied, 3-3.
13:30 left: They announced it as a Boyes goal. I'd like to see another replay on that. We'll see if that holds. The Buffalo PP is thus 2 for 7 tonight.
13:00 left: They change it back to a Connolly goal.
11:07 left: Terrible Montador giveaway but Miller stops Bergeron from the slot. Shots are 5-5 in the period.
6:00 left: Still tied at 3-3, which is a nightmare for your deadline-nearing scribe.
4:05 left: Good stop by Miller on Recchi after Boyes failed to get the puck out. Shots are 41-28 for Buffalo (8-7 for Sabres in this period.
2:35 left: Grier fails on a tap-in of a great Vanek pass after a Vanek steal at the line. Bigger point: I don't want Thomas Vanek passing the puck down low to Mike Grier EVER. Gotta shoot.
End-3rd: Remember my OT stats at the top of this blog. Go get em. Here we go at 3-3. Shots are 41-29. Sabres move a point ahead of Carolinq with their eighth of the road trip. Now going for No. 9.
Of note: The Bruins' PR staff is one of the best in the league. Pregame notes are stellar and they produce between-periods and post-game information sheets the like of which every team should copy (hint, hint, Sabres). Here's a nugget they just passed out -- The Bruins are 37-4-4 in games in which they've lead at any point. That's points in 41 of 45 games. Pretty staggering. But there's this addendum: Two of the four losses were to Buffalo, on Dec. 15 in HSBC Arena and here on Jan. 20.
7:58 p.m: The puck is dropped.
19:37 left: Miller stops Recchi on a play set up by a terrible blind back pass by Mancari. He'll get a one-way ticket never to return with plays like that.
17:40 left: Sekera stopped and Connolly just fails to get the rebound.
14:17 left: Thomas with more robbery, including a diving stop on a Connolly rebound. The play ends, the scrum ensues and Chara is right in the middle with Grier. In the end, McQauid and Grier go for roughing. The Sabres have a 19-18 edge in shots in this game; it was once 10-3 for Boston.
13:06 left: Chara goes for boarding and that was a terrible call. He pushed Montador down and Montador slid 10 feet and hit the boards with a thud.
12:47 left: Thomas robs Vanek but another penalty, Seidenberg for cross checking. That was legit. So it's a 4-on-3 for the Sabres for 30 seconds, then it will be 5 on 3.
10:43 left: The two-man edge was for 1:10 and the Sabres didn't score as Stafford fanned on one shot, passed too hard to Vanek on another. Thomas made good stops on Pominville and Boyes. And now the Sabres get a too many men on the ice penalty. Not good.
8:34 left: Grier and Pominville block Chara shots but just as the penalty ends, the big guy gets in tight to feed Ryder. His first shot is stopped but Recchi bangs in the rebound. Special teams, special teams. Bruins lead, 2-0.
8:07 left: Big answer. Ennis gets in tight, holds it, holds it, hold it and flips it up and in off McQuaid from the goal line just to the right of the net. Ennis' 15th. Bruins lead, 2-1. Sabres their first goal on their 27th shot of the night.
5:49 left: Another Boston penalty. Boychuk for holding. The Sabres have a 19-6 bulge in shots on goal in this period. Doesn't seem like the ice is tilted that much but Buffalo has been good. Except on the power play. Here's another chance.
5:00 left: What a play by Sekera to save a breakaway by Brad Marchand, who was off to the races after Butler missed the puck at the Boston line. But Sekera quickly caught up to Marchand so no chance for short-handed goal No. 13 against Buffalo. As for this power play ....
3:40 left: No shots on goal on the PP.
2:52 left: Another Boston penalty, Kaberle for tripping. Sabres should decline.
1:08 left: I take it back. Vanek half fans on an Ennis pass but gets enough of it to chip it over Thomas. Great play at the point a few second earlier by Myers to keep the puck in after his point shot got blocked. Game tied, 2-2.
48.9 left: Big bout at center ice between McQuaid and Gaustad. Lots of shots but decision to McQuaid on that one.
8.2 left: Another scrum that's really nothing until Gerbe sent a Bruin flying. Eventually, Lucic and McCormick slug it out and the place is going wild. That was a pretty ill-advised shove by Gerbe. Butler ended up with the extra penalty for roughing.
End-2nd: We're tied at 2-2. Wild period. Sabres had a 22-7 edge in shots and it's 33-22 through two.
7:07 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
19:20 left: Big cheer as Chara takes the ice for the first time. And the crowd is chanting "Cha-ra, Cha-ra"
18:04 left: Miller with some robbery on Nathan Horton, who took a pass and walked right around Connolly. A few seconds earlier, Chara drilled Pominville in the corner. He only knows one way to play.
17:06 left: McCormick and Campbell talk, look at each other and drop 'em in the corner. Big decision to McCormick drew a few gasps from the crowd.
15:17 left: Have to like the Bruins' skating and physical play so far. Sabres haven't done much in either department other than McCormick's scrap. Shots are 4-1 for Boston.
13:29 left: A definite smoke smell wafting up into the press box where I'm sitting. Hey you people in the balcony, what's going on down there? Security! By the way, Thornton goes for interference for Boston.
13:24 left: There goes the Buffalo power play. Myers for tripping.
12:43 left: Leopold just fails to get away, then the Bruins lose the puck again and Leopold and Pominville are in on Thomas on a 2-on-0. But Thomas stops the Leopold shot.
11:06 left: With the Sabres getting completely outplayed a goal was bound to happen. Great 3-on-2 by Boston. Krejci to Lucic to Horton for a goal-mouth tap in. Bruins lead, 1-0. Shots are 9-3.
8:15 left: Great save by Thomas on McCormick from right in front. Sabres have just four shots but two A-1 scoring chances as Lindy Ruff likes to call them.
5:05 left: Thomas stones Pominville from 5 feet after a Connolly feed. Sabres much better since the Boston goal, strangely enough. Shots are now 12-9 for the Bruins.
2:17 left: Miller with a good stop on Adam McQuaid from in front a few seconds after what was at least Connolly's third grievous giveaway of the period. Couple inquiries on the lines and I just realized I forgot 'em (sorry). The Sabres ran out Niedermayer-McCormick-Grier, Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari, Vanek-Connolly-Pominville and Stafford-Boyes-Ennis. Defense pairs are Montador-Sekera, Butler-Myers, Morrisonn-Leopold.
End-1st: With Miller making a save on Recchi in the final 30 seconds, the Boston lead stays at 1-0 through one. Shots were 15-11. Miller and Thomas were far and away the best players on the ice.