Greetings again from HSBC Arena as we get set for Game Four, which will actually face off in the 7:40 range (raspberries and other noises from the press box in the direction of TSN for that one). I'm still trying to thaw out from the walk over here from One News Plaza a couple of hours ago through a biting wind that made it feel like January. I'm thinking the folks in the Party on the Plaza here at the arena should be inside at a watering hole somewhere? Why would you stand outside in this?
What happened to spring in this town anyway? That's one of the joys of playoff hockey, isn't it? The folks from Philly are snickering because the high temperature was 80 there today. Granted, it's supposed to be 53 range for Game Five on Friday but what we've had here has been ridiculous with the rain, wind, thunderstorms and Monday's snow.
The Bisons were supposed to be having Kids Week with ice cream giveaways all week. Yeah, right. Banged again today after playing two yesterday in 30-degree weather.
So maybe through all this we can agree it's hockey weather after all. By this point in the series, it's hard to have anything insightful to say. One thing that stick out to me is that the Sabres have to find more offense -- actually any offense -- from their top forwards.
They have seven goals in the series, with one each from the likes of Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera. Thomas Vanek has two, both on the power play, and is minus-4. Drew Stafford has the other. Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes and Tim Connolly have yet to score, with Connolly's goalless streak in the playoffs at 26 games. Paul Gaustad hasn't scored either but that's nothing new -- 0 goals in 34 career playoff games. As well as he's playing, I'm not thinking the Sabres are long for these playoffs if Marc-Andre Gragnani continues to be their leading scorers.
The Flyers, meanwhile, continue to try to get through this series without Chris Pronger and take another huge step in that regard tonight. They were brutally mediocre (9-9-7) over the last 25 games but they're finding their stride. Bad news for the Sabres.
Be sure to check out the archive of tonight's pregame chat by going to this link. And if you missed the chat, be sure to join us Friday night at 6:30 for 30 minutes prior to Game Five.
Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford? (Hmmm). Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Betts-Powe-O'Donnell-Meszaros. Goal: Boucher.
Of note: First off, the Caps have scored three goals in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the third to wipe out their 3-0 deficit and tie the Rangers, 3-3. Wow. ... Back here, Van Riemsdyk leads all players with six shots on goal and has been great again. Best player in the series by a lot. ... Pominville leads Buffalo with three shots. Connolly leads the forwards with 12:26 and that's a joke because he has been terrible most of the night. ... Butler has played a game-high 17:42. Flyers have 14 blocked shots. Sabres have a 20-15 lead in hits and faceoffs are split, 19-19.
9:32 p.m: The puck is dropped.
17:51 left: PP lousy so far. Puck knocked out of zone three times, Butler offside another. One shot. Connolly also passed up a wide-open one from 10 feet. That's why he never scores in the playoffs.
15:00 left: Lots of boos. The Flyers knocked the puck out of the zone 13 times - 13! -- after Buffalo got it in. Sabres had just two shots on the five-minute penalty, Flyers one. Richards was literally jumping up and down in the box as the clock expired. Now, it's five minutes less off the clock but you could have grabbed this game by the throat too. And you would think the Flyers have some momentum now. The crowd is quiet.
13:25 left: Sloppy, sloppy. Icing on Buffalo.
12:04 left: Caps-Rangers going to overtime. Incredible. Bergenheim goal with 3:17 left pulls Lightning into 2-2 tie with Pens after they were down, 2-0. Crazy night so far.
10:00 left: Sabres holding on. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo.
9:37 left: Miller with the save on Versteeg from the slot.
8:50 left: Save of the SERIES: Miller stones Briere all alone in front with two dekes, snaring it with the glove. The crowd is wild now. Who made that horrible giveaway at the line? Gaustad? That puck has GOT to get out of the zone there. No excuse.
6:29 left: Shots are 6-4 for Flyers.
5:37 left: Boucher stops Pominville slapper and Ennis just misses rebound.
5:21 left: Ennis stopped on breakaway by Boucher.
5:03 left: Another SENSATIONAL STOP by Miller. Diving to his right on a rebound to rob Richards. We got "Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler" chants going. Wow.
4:01 left: Kaleta wipes out a great Vanek chance alone in front by wiping out in the crease and knocking the net off. Untouched.
3:00 left: Flyers nearly had too many men on the ice. Faceoff in Philly zone.
1:20 left: Boucher out.
1:12 left: Faceoff in Buffalo zone. Timeout, Flyers.
30.8 left: Miller survives scramble and spikes puck out of the crowd of players. Crowd chanting his name again. Faceoff to Miller's right. They're checking the clock. We think it ran. They're putting it back to 32.6.
18: Gaustad post on empty net
OVER: ANOTHER 1-0 WIN SERIES TIED. BIG SCRUM.
8:37 p.m. The puck is dropped. Myers has returned. But Carter has NOT.
18:19 left: Niedermayer stopped from right in front. Overpassing from Gragnani. Should have shot. Then niedermayer overhandled.
17:13 left: Good stop by Miller on Carcillo on a 3-on-2. Tough time for Weber at the Flyers' line and into the Buffalo zone.
16:11 left: Carter has a right knee injury. But the Flyers say he might return. They said lower body but it's pretty clear on replay what happened when he collided with Myers.
15:11 left: How about the Rangers leading the Caps, 3-0, at MSG? Pressure building on No. 1 seeded Washington again.
14:50 left: Miller stands up for a good stop on Hartnell. Sabres still treating the puck like a hot potato too much. One press box wag said hand grenade to me during the intermission. They're definitely jittery with it. Miller has been strong so far.
13:30 left: McCormick and Grier on a 2-on-1. That took forever. Shot wide.
10:52 left: Pominville slapper stopped. Shots are 17-15, Buffalo. Some good work by the Sabres in transition and I was really impressed with the backchecking on Vanek a couple shifts ago as he came back into the Buffalo zone and stole the puck. Key play. Never shows up in any stat column but you have to have them.
9:11 left: We're just past the halfway mark. Shots are 5-5 in this period and 18-16 for Buffalo.
8:21 left: Powe off the post after a sequence where Connolly got beat twice. Then Miller clubbed Carcillo in the crease and got help from Weber. Carcillo and Miller get roughing. Gerbe serves Miller. Weber got nothing and Laviolette isn't happy. He's getting an audience with the officials.
6:28 left: Miller stands up to stop Coburn. Flyers have 21-18 edge in shots and getting better of the play again. Miller has been strong in his crease tonight and not flopping too much. Good to see.
6:13 left: Great stop by Boucher on Myers. Gerbe just fails to handle rebound.
5:41 left: Myers for elbowing. Flyers to the PP. They're 0-2 in this one and 2-20 in the series.
3:00 left: Sabres survive the power play. Another terrible weak play with the puck by Connolly gave the Flyers another 30 seconds of zone time.
2:14 left: Flyers nailed for too many men on the ice as they were breaking into the zone. And Gaustad-Montador alertly get Kaleta away from Carcillo, who was chirping at him trying to lure him into an even-up deal.
2:03 left: Two goals in 57-second span early in the third by Caps at MSG. Rangers' lead cut to 3-2.
2.8 seconds left: WOW. Kaleta tries to hit Richards near the bench but Richards puts up the elbow and drills him in the face. FIVE-MINUTE MAJOR.
End-2nd: Sabres hold the 1-0 lead. Shots were 10-8 for Philly and it's 21-21 through two. Sabres will have 4:58 left on their power play. Huge chance.
7:40 p.m. The puck is dropped. By the way, Doug Allen did not stand on the Sabres logo mat at center ice while singing the anthem. Tara Minogue did the other night, just for the record. Hmmmm. Wonder if the players are gonna fine her 20 bucks?
16:00 left: Big, physical start by the Sabres. Gerbe nailed Betts, Kaleta drilled van Riemsdyk and Grier on Versteeg. And the lines are downright goofy. They rolled Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford, Vanek-Gaustad-Kaleta, Ennis-Niedermayer-Pominville, McCormick-Boyes-Grier.
14:05 left: Weber for tripping along the boards in the Buffalo zone. Just inside the blueline. Ticky-tack. Zherdev took a nice dive to accentuate the stick. Remember when someone asked in the chat about the officiating and I said I was OK with it? Not there.
12:00 left: Sabres survive as Butler makes a great save on Leino in the crease with Miller out of position.
11:27 left: Flyers got no shots on the PP. It's 4-1 for Buffalo through 8 1/2 minutes.
10:22 left: The Sabres make the breakthough and it's from a top-six forward. Badly needed. Great work from behind the net by Ennis and great veteran patience from Niedermayer to hold the puck and slide it over to Pominville for a tap-in at the edge of the crease. Sabres lead, 1-0 and the "Boo-chay" chants are out.
10:00 left: Grier and Boyes stopped from in tight.
9:42 left: Carcillo goes for goalie interference even though he landed right on his butt. Gotta see the replay on that one. Sabres to the power play.
9:01 left: Stafford for interference at center ice as Versteeg tries to get away. Total ticky-tack. Lindy was furious over that one.
7:18 left: Van Riemsdyk with a wide-open net -- but a sliding toe of Myers' got the puck and it went over th net. Sabres were in trouble on a 3-on-1 but Butler broke that up.
7:00 left: Sabres and the crowd upset as Miller gets sticked in the mask by Versteeg. Except it wasn't. Weber got him.
5:47 left: Shots are 7-6 for Buffalo. Flyers have been in control since Carcillo got out of the box.
5:37 left: Boucher for tripping Grier. Comes two seconds after a Myers snapshot from the slot beats Boucher -- but cranks off the post.
4:18 left: Versteeg gets a backhander on Miller. Save. Walked right around Connolly, who was lolly-gagging after the puck at the Buffalo line.
3:58 left: Boyes off the post on his own rebound. Sabres have had chances for the 2-0 lead. Big chances. Haven't converted.
3:00 left: Save on Niedermayer, who has been terrific again, as he cut down through the left circle. Shots are 10-8, Buffalo. Niedermayer spent 50 games doing absolutely nothing and has been very good for more than a month.
2:12 left: Myers down in front of the net. Got drilled high in a collision by Carter, right in the jaw. Last thing Sabres need is another D-man out. Bet Myers is headed to the quiet room.
End-1st: Sabres survive with their 1-0 lead. Shots are 13-11 for Buffalo. Flyers much better last couple minutes. Leopold has been pretty brutal with the puck and keeps getting beat. Looks nowhere near 100 percent.