Happy Wednesday to you. With Mike Harrington on his way to Boston to cover the Sabres' game against the Bruins on Thursday, today's morning papers are brought to you by the home office. As usual, we'll start right here in the B-lo:
*Too many injuries, too many penalties, too much Marc-Andre Fleury.
There's no quibbling with the Buffalo Sabres' effort in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Consol Energy Center. But that trio of factors simply conspired against them in their first regulation loss in eight games since Terry Pegula became the team's owner.
Buffalo took an early lead on veteran Rob Niedermayer's second goal in two games at 2:47 of the first period but didn't score again. Fleury made 30 saves to beat Buffalo for the fourth time as Pittsburgh completed a sweep of the season series and pushed its winning streak over the Sabres to six games.
*With the Buffalo lineup suddenly rocked by injuries, the Sabres had to dip down for more help. Luke Adam got his fourth recall of the season and was joined by Mark Parrish, who got his first and was in the lineup against the Penguins.
"My main dream is to win a Stanley Cup and to get an opportunity here in Buffalo is fantastic," Parrish said. "I'm going to get out there and do anything I can to help."
*From the "If Rob Niedermayer can do it, I can, too, department," although the Penguins signed Zbynek Michalek this summer primarily because of his ability to prevent goals, the defenseman surely didn't figure to play 58 games without a goal. He finally ended that inglorious mark with a blast from the right point later in the second period. Michalek took a moment to celebrate, then raised his arms to the heavens.
"It's a goal I'll remember the rest of my life," he said. "Actually, I didn't see the puck go in. When the crowd reacted, I wasn't sure if it was mine. But everyone skated toward me, so I figured it was."
*According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the chances of hitting the Powerball -- 1 in 195,249,054 (you really have an equal chance of belching a live kitten). Chances the Penguins will score on the power play -- slightly better than that, certainly, but not by nearly enough. The Sabres killed all seven of Pittsburgh's power plays, but it took a toll.
"We did a great job on the power play, but the point is, too many of our offensive players sat on the bench for too long," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought our battle was good, killing the shot lanes and blocking shot. Did a great job, but had too many players sitting out."
*The excuses were all there for the Portland Pirates, according to the Portland Press Herald. During the past four days, four of their top players had been called up to the NHL by the Buffalo Sabres. They had 17 skaters, one fewer than normal, available for the game. They were playing the Hershey Bears, the two-time defending Calder Cup champions.
Apparently, the Pirates don't make excuses. They just win hockey games.
Portland pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory against the Bears. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Pirates and lifted them into a tie with idle Manchester for first place in the AHL's Atlantic Division.
*TheAHL.com catches up with the Pirates, who have hit their stride since the calendar turned to 2011 and are surging back toward the top of the league’s standings with five weeks left to play.
*The Sabres' next opponent is coming off a loss, as Montreal easily rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Bruins in front of the requisite full house (21,273) at the Bell Centre, with goals by Lars Eller (two), Brian Gionta and James Wisniewski tightening up the race in the NHL’s Northeast Division, leaving Boston with a three-point lead over its longtime rival.
The game was marred by Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty, who was carted off on a stretcher. Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe says there was no defense for the hit (which is shown on the video at the top of the Globe story).
"In Chara's case, he was issued a five-minute penalty along with a game misconduct, ending his night. Generally speaking, throughout the league, he is widely respected. Chara's reputation should count for a great deal in this case - and it will - but the NHL's increasing sensitivity to head injuries makes him a target for discipline as surely as it would anyone else. He made a poor choice. He must pay the price."
*The Sabres and Hurricanes have played the same number of games, which means Buffalo is in control of its playoff destiny with 16 games remaining by virtue of its one-point lead for eighth place.
*With the sale of city of Glendale bonds frozen by the threat of a lawsuit by an Arizona-based watchdog group and the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes hanging in the balance, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he remains committed to keeping the team in town. But Bettman said the clock is ticking down on the deadline for a resolution.
Bettman did not set a deadline for the deal to get done, but admitted "we're getting close to the end" and that if things weren't completed "promptly" the league would have no choice by to relocate the franchise after 16 years in Arizona.