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Live from the Roch: Amerks come back to Sabres University in home opener

ROCHESTER -- We're live on the scene here in Blue Cross Arena for the Amerks' home opener against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. It's a festive night, the first back under the reign of the Sabres. The current players and more than 50 alums entered the arena via a red carpet through the glass-enclosed atrium. So did Terry Pegula and Ted Black, who got big cheers from the several hundred fans gathered two hours before faceoff.

The alums have just been introduced again -- names like Rob Ray and Andrew Peters got big cheers among ones Sabres fans would know. There was a special ceremony honoring former Amerks and Sabres coach Joe Crozier, and the octogenerian got a standing ovation when it was announced he would be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2012. A banner was then unveiled in the rafters.

On the ice, Dennis Persson and Drew Schiestel are both out tonight with lower-body injuries. The Hamilton Spectator reported that Schiestel, a Hamilton native, would be out 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee after catching his foot in a rut on the ice but Amerks coach Ron Rolston said in the last couple days that was not the ice and the injury was not that severe. We'll see.

Drew MacIntyre, just back from Europe with the Sabres, will start in goal. The defense will be T.J. Brennan and Shaone Morrisonn. Up front will be Jonathan Parker centering Colin Stuart and Michael Ryan.

Stay tuned for more observations on the Sabres' prospects, who will hopefully put on a better show than they did in Saturday's 5-2 stinker in Hamilton.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Ceremonies: The Amerks get an A. Dimmed the lights, introduced the alums just like we saw in HSBC in April. Great moment with Crozier. Players came on via dry ice effect. Then Terry Pegula made a quick appearance for the ceremonial faceoff and got a roaring standing ovation. He was joined by daughter Jessie, wearing a white Lindy Ruff No. 22 Amerks jersey and she dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Line/defense combos: Up front, the Amerks are going with Stuart-Parker-Ryan, Whitmore-Voakes-Kassian, Foligno-Varone-Tropp, Boychuk-Turnbull-Legault. On defense, it's  McNabb-Biega, Morrisonn-Brennan and Finley-Crawford.

First Period thoughts: It took me until the first intermission to realize I was on the wrong wireless network and that's why I wasn't hooked up. Tech problems should be over now but the Amerks' problems aren't. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton leads it 2-0 and had a 9-5 edge in shots through 20 minutes. The buzz in the crowd was killed by Eric Tangradi's goal at 5:10, which came as he walked out alone in front and deked past MacIntyre after a brutal back pass in the corner from T.J. Brennan, who is certainly experienced enough to know better. WB/S made it 2-0 at 18:04 on Brian Strait's knuckleball past MacIntyre from the left circle.

The Amerks' forwards have done very little thus far with just two shots. The team's best chance came when Morrisonn moved up and fired wide from the slot. The crowd's only real buzz was when Sabretooth showed  up and was joined by the Amerks' moose mascot. A moose? I'm told that was a local radio promotion in the 80s that just stuck.

Second Period: A great tic-tac-toe passing play results in a goal by Wilkes-Barre's Colin McDonald at 2:10 to make it 3-0. The WBS radio guy is right in front of me and he's a Ted Baxter-like parody. Standing up, rocking back and forth, waving his arms. Lots of silliness. And he roars "Old McDonald got a goal." At least he left out ee-eye, ee-eye oh. The Amerks have skated much better as the period as gone on but have yet to score. Michael Ryan, in particular, doing some work getting some chances in front.

End second period: Good to see some life from the Amerks but they trail, 4-0, despite an 18-6 advantage in shots in the period. They had a two-man advantage for nearly two minutes but Brennan and Marcus Foligno, among others were stoned by Brad Thiessen. Then disaster struck. Brennan tried to feed Kassian out top and the pass missed. Brian Lerg beat Kassian to the puck and pulled away from him for an ice-length breakaway and then beat MacIntyre. Yep, a goal with his team two men shot. Ugly. Haven't seen that  too  often in my life. Lots of boos from the crowd of 9,217.

Third Period: The Amerks fell behind, 5-0, and finally score with 3:33 left as Marcus Foligno gets his first pro goal with a slapshot from the right circle off a Kassian back pass.

The final was 5-1. The Amerks had a 30-23 edge in shots but fall to 0-2. They've been outscored 10-3 thus far.

Hecht out for the weekend, Sabres to be extra cautious with latest concussion

Saying he has to be extra cautious because of Jochen Hecht's concussion history, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff ruled out the recovering forward until at least next week. Hecht, who missed the opening two games in Europe, will be on the sidelines again for Friday's home opener against Carolina and Saturday's visit to Pittsburgh.

"Jochen won’t be ready for this weekend,'' Ruff said after practice in First Niagara Center. "We gave him a little extra today, but we need to be sure this time around. We need to pound him physically and take him to the limit, which we haven’t taken him to the limit yet. We’re getting close, but it’s not a case where we’re going to put him in and guess or put him in because we’re close.

"In Jochen’s case, there’s a history, which changes a lot of things. The couple of instances at the end of last year, that history makes his situation different than anybody else’s. You monitor how he feels. If his head doesn’t feel right -- which he hasn’t given it the, "Jeez, I feel great. I feel good." -- he still doesn’t seem like he’s there yet, and that’s why you keep him out of contact. The real heavy stuff we’ll ramp up in the next few days. We don’t know if we get to the battle stuff if he’ll make it through it."

Hecht feels he is continuing to progress. Injured on the second day of training camp, he hasn't suffered any symptoms since before departing for Europe on Oct. 1.

"It’s been small steps, and I’m taking my time, making sure," Hecht said. "It’s been good, but I’ve still got to get my legs underneath me. I’ve been off for three weeks, so I’ve got to get my conditioning back. I’m still trying stuff out there, did a little extra with [Matt Ellis] at center ice there, banging heads. I’m going in the right direction."

To hear Ruff's news conference, click the file below.

---John Vogl

Inside the NHL chat with Bucky Gleason at 10 a.m.

Sabres' Roy trying to get back up to speed

Derek Roy missed the second half of last season with a leg injury, and he missed most of the preseason with a shoulder ailment. As could be expected, the opening two games have been a bit of a struggle for the Sabres' center.

Roy has one assist, one shot and a minus-1 rating so far as the Sabres have started 2-0. The third game is Friday's home opener against Carolina.

"It could be better, obviously," Roy said today after practice in First Niagara Center. "The first games you’re trying to get into it. I missed a lot of months of hockey, then I missed a lot of training camp as well. It was a tough few games battling a couple injuries and trying to get through it. This week was great just to get back home, see the [new dressing] room and get excited. Everybody is excited here to play on Friday.

"I’m right there. I can see it. I felt better in the second game and started skating with the puck a little more, felt more confident and I’m just trying to work on little things in practice to try and sharpen up my game."

In addition to getting up to game speed, Roy is working with a new left winger. He and Nathan Gerbe had never played together before the European openers, and it takes time to get chemistry.

"I don’t think Derek is quite up to speed yet. It’s going to take a few games of really hard compete to get to that really high level," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He’s playing OK, but OK for Derek is not the level he needs to be. I just think quicker plays, quicker decisions. When he’s really on his game, he’s getting opportunities and he’s setting up the people around him."

---John Vogl

Sabres hire Benson as chief development officer

The Sabres have named Cliff Benson, who was working as a senior adviser, to the role of chief develoment officer. He will oversee the Sabres' foundation and other projects involving the team and community.

"I am so glad Cliff finally decided to join us in a more formal capacity," team President Ted Black said.  "Cliff is a close friend to [owner] Terry [Pegula] and me, and he was the one who introduced the two of us. Together we look forward to doing great things to leave a positive and lasting impact on our region."

"I look forward to working with Mayor Brown, city and county officials, community and business leaders to find ways to bring opportunities to Buffalo," Benson said. “Most of all, my wife Cheryl and I are thrilled to be a part of the great group of folks at the Sabres organization, led by Ted Black and Terry.”  

Benson is charitably affiliated with Quaker Valley Hockey Association, Imani Christian Academy, Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, Silver Ring Thing and The Second Mile. Benson made three trips to Haiti to bring medical relief following the 2010 earthquake.

---John Vogl

Hecht cleared for contact; Sabres' top line gets attention

Jochen Hecht's recovery from a training camp concussion took a step forward today, as the left winger participated fully in the Sabres' practice.

"Jochen was upgraded for contact today, so I would put him at the moderate level," coach Lindy Ruff said in First Niagara Center. "We didn’t really push him. I think he took it as far as he’s taken it so far and should continue to progress unless he has a setback during the week."

Hecht, injured on the second day of camp, has a chance of returning to the lineup this weekend. The Sabres host Carolina in the home opener Friday, and they travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"I don’t think there’s any reason to rule him out right now," Ruff said. "I don’t there’s a good reason to say he could play Friday yet, either. We’re kind of in that situation where you evaluate after each practice. He will do extra after practice and be more involved in some physical stuff, then you wait to see the next day if there’s any ramifications on how he worked."

The Sabres' scoring line of left wing Thomas Vanek, center Luke Adam and captain Jason Pominville continued to get attention in the dressing room for their hot start. The interviews of Vanek, Adam and Ruff are below.

---John Vogl

Thomas Vanek

Luke Adam

Lindy Ruff

Sabres skating, arena workers scrambling

Greetings from Sabres practice, where everyone is skating. The more interesting work is being done off the ice.

The Sabres' home opener is Friday night, and First Niagara Center is crawling with folks trying to transform the building from HSBC Arena to its new name. There are workers on the roof scrubbing off the lingering letters of HSBC and installing lights of First Niagara. In the atrium, painters are on ladders above the arena doors making sure people are welcomed to First Niagara Center, not HSBC Arena. And inside the bowl, a few people are going row-to-row in every section putting stickers on the end seats, which have the HSBC bank logo on them.

---John Vogl

On the Sabres Beat live chat at 3 p.m.

Rivet signs with ECHL team in Elmira

Former Sabres captain Craig Rivet has taken two steps back to keep his hockey career going, signing with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL. Rivet, who started last season as the Sabres' captain and finished on the Columbus Blue Jackets' power play, hasn't played in the minors since the 1996-97 season.

"I'm just really excited to come to the rink and meet the new guys, get familiar with the surroundings," Rivet told the team Website today after reporting to what's considered a Double-A league. "It's not the level. It's the competition. I know that the competition here is still high. There's a lot of hungry guys that want to move to the next level, and that's what's exciting for me. It's not like I'm coming down here and not going to be playing against guys of caliber. These guys can play hockey."

---John Vogl

Ruff: Hecht has a spot when healthy

Jochen Hecht is getting healthier for the Sabres, and coach Lindy Ruff said when the center is finally ready to return from his concussion, he has a spot in the lineup waiting.

"Jochen, when he’s healthy, will have a spot," Ruff said following practice today in First Niagara Center. "Jochen is getting better. The next step for Jochen is to get involved in full practices and be able to take body contact, which right now he isn’t."

Ruff made it clear that if Luke Adam continues the fine start that produced two goals and two assists in the opening two games, it won't be Adam that sits for Hecht. Adam is centering left wing Thomas Vanek and right wing Jason Pominville.

"I’d say right now it’s pretty tough to take Luke out of the lineup," Ruff said. "He’s played well. We’ve played him there the last few games, and we got a good response. It’s given us a good offensive line. There’s no reason to change that."

To hear the rest of Ruff's chat, including his thoughts on the remodeled dressing room that was unveiled today, click the audio below.

---John Vogl

Sabres back on ice in Buffalo, with new dressing room waiting

The Sabres are on the ice in First Niagara Center, their first session since returning from Germany early Sunday morning. When they get done with the practice session, they'll retreat to their refurbished dressing room.

The hallway from the room to the ice is nearly complete, and it is impressive in its nod to the team's past. The names and pictures of members of the Sabres' Hall of Fame are on one wall, and the retired jersey numbers and pieces of Memorial Auditorium are on the opposite wall. Pictures are below.

Later today, News photographer Sharon Cantillon will have photos of the dressing room, which will open when the players get done skating.

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UPDATE: View Cantillon's photos

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Nothing new on the ice. All the players are present, with the exception of third goalie Drew MacIntyre, who has been sent to Rochester.

---John Vogl

Photo(1)
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Sabres back safely in Buffalo

The Sabres' trans-Atlantic flight went as smoothly as could be expected, with the team's charter touching down in Buffalo at 5:45 a.m.

--John Vogl

Sabres arrive in North America

YHZ -- Good early morning from the airport runway in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Sabres' charter has landed safely in North America for refueling, with Buffalo the next and final stop on the itinerary.

What an amazing week it's been.

--John Vogl

Amerks quick hits

HAMILTON, Ont. -- Here's some quick thought on the Rochester Amerks' 5-2 loss to Hamilton in their season opener.

1). Their best defenseman was none other than Shaone Morrisonn,  who has accepted his assignment to the AHL for now. He has nearly 2.1 million reasons to play here and not pout, Uh-huh.

"I was having fun out there. I got to play, have some ice time," he said. "I haven't been in a game since the playoffs last year. I had a lot of fun. I felt good in camp, and we'll see what happens the next couple weeks.

"If I can't do the NHL this year, you want to play in the best league as possible. Buffalo has my rights and it's up to them. Wherever they put me I'll work hard. It makes you stronger mentally. It's fun playing with these young guys again. I got lots of minutes and felt great out there."

Added coach Ron Rolston: "He's a professional. He came down and has worked extremely hard in practice. It's tough when that happens but he's done a really good responding to the situation and trying to get better for us. It's a tough situation, given where your expectations are and where you want to be. You have to give him a little time to respond to the situation. He was real good in practice and he showed nothing that he was going to have a different attitude."

2). Drew Schiestel left with a knee injury in the third period. Status TBA. Dennis Persson put a puck into his own net on a deflection. Alex Biega and T.J. Brennan were uneven. Same for Brayden McNabb, who got away with a first-period elbow that would net him two or three games from Brendan Shanahan.

3). Zack Kassian got better as the game went on. Skated well, created some chances. Marcus Foligno was invisible. Colin  Stuart had eight shots on goal, one goal and looked good.

4). David Leggio was terrific. Forget about five goals.  One was an own goal, two were tap-ins, one was totally screened and the fifth was a penalty shot. Leggio and Drew McIntyre should really make for a good combination in the AHL.

5). Liked Rolston's attitude postgame. "There's 75 more of these to go," he said. Chipper, positive, ready to work with a young team.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Live from Hamilton: Amerks back in Sabres' fold

HAMILTON, Ont -- We've made it high atop Copps Coliseum, and I mean high, for tonight's Rochester Amerks season opener against the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal's top affiliate). Memo to Canada: These gondolas are just killer. This one wasn't Edmonton-bad but it was bad enough. Nor was it Calgary-bad but I was hoping not to deal with this in the AHL.

Up, out, down and all with views available through the floor. At least it was mostly enclosed but still. ... You want pictures? No chance. I was walking -- and looking straight ahead. BUT the Oklahoma City radio guy apparently filmed it last year. So you can check out what I just did. Yeesh.

We're in the AHL, of course, so sometimes things go wrong. The lights were dark and the scoreboard was running the opening video to the cliche of the Star Wars theme and what happens? Blue screen of death. Ooops.

First bit of news: Williamsville native David Leggio will start in goal for Rochester. He has been ill and nursing concussion symptoms and coach Ron Rolston told me this week he didn't know if he could go tonight.  The starters will be Mark Voakes at center between Colin Stuart and Michael Ryan, with Brayden McNabb and Shaone Morrisonn (remember him?) on defense.

Stay tuned from some observations on some of the Sabres' top prospects.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

First Period

The Amerks started up front this way: Colin Stuart-Mark Voakes-Michael Ryan, Derek Whitmore-Travis Turnbull-Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno-Phil Varone-Corey Tropp and Riley Boychuk-Jonathan Parker-Shawn Szydlowski.
On defense it was: Brayden McNabb-Shoane Morrisonn, Dennis Persson-Drew Schiestel and T.J. Brennan-Alex Biega.

Captaincy: Colin Stuart has the C but it's for tonight only. Everyone up here in gondola land agrees the Amerks are waiting for Matt Ellis to return from Europe to give someone the C on a regular basis.

12:00 left: No score although Tropp should have had the game's first goal 1:58 but rookie referee Darcy Burchell ruled the net was off its moorings. Was knocked off by a Hamilton player after the puck went in but no video replay in the AHL. McNabb issued a crunching check that went unpenalized, but it was clearly an elbow to the head of Aaron Palushaj. Brendan Shanahan would give you 2-3 games, kid.

9:44 left: That infernal stadium anthem, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" gets played after a goal here and the first one of the season was scored by Frederic St. Denis on a blistering shot from the left point that a screened Leggio had no chance on.  Amerks trail, 1-0.

2:26 left: The Amerks might struggle to score goals at times, especially without Luke Adam, and it's easy to see why. After the first  3-4 minutes, they've done very little. Have not noticed Kassian or Foligno at all to this point. Leggio very good.

Last time I was here -- a 1992 neutral-site game between the Leafs and Quebec Nordiques. Came with the late, great Tom Borrelli, who was clad in his finest Leafs blues.

End-1st: Both teams had seven shots on goal and it remains 1-0 for Hamilton through one.

Second Period

Of note: The building seats around 17,000 but the upper level is curtained off, leaving in the range of 8-9,000 in the lower bowl. It's less than half full. I'm betting 4,000 or so in the house. I would imagine the Amerks will get at least double that for Thursday's home opener against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (cheap plug: I'll be there).

16:20 left: The Amerks have run into big penalty trouble and they pay a price as St. Denis pounds home his second of the night on a two-man advantage. With his team already down a man, Voakes got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shooting the puck  after the whistle and the Amerks also got a too many men on the ice penalty for having four guys on the ice when it should have been a 5-on-3. Amerks trail, 2-0.

15:05 left: Leggio has stood on his head in this period but the Amerks haven't survived the penalty trouble. Brock Trotter scores on a quick snapshot from the slot and Ron Rolston goes for his timeout. Amerks trail, 3-0.

13:00 left: Amerks come up  dry on a power play, with Corey Tropp stopped from in tight by Hamilton goalie Nathan Lawson, who played some last year for the Islanders.

9:01 left: The Amerks get on the board for the first time back with the Sabres as Jonathan Parker bangs home a rebound after a 2-on-1 with Whitmore passing to Kassian. A power play goal. Amerks trail, 3-1. I've liked Kassian in this period. Skating well, physical.

8:20 left: Leggio with a great left pad save on Trotter, who was in alone from the center red line. Leggio has been the Amerks' first star tonight by a mile.

6:29 left: The goal definitely helped the Amerks' energy level. Kassian just missed a tip-in from the edge of the crease on a Whitmore pass.

6:16 left: Just as I said that, a bad break for Leggio & Co. as Dennis Persson tips home Ian Schultz's centering attempt past the startled goalie and into his own net. Amerks trail, 4-1.

2:00 left: The Rochester defenseman I've liked best tonight? Shaone Morrisonn, believe it or not.

End-2nd: It's 4-1 for the Bulldogs through two. Hamilton had a 14-12 edge in shots in and it's 21-19 through two. Had a big scrap right at the buzzer with Corey Tropp and Ian Schultz throwing plenty of haymakers after a scrum in the corner that started with a late hit after the buzzer on Biega. Foligno jumped right in too. That was good to see.

Third Period

15:23: T.J. Brennan wipes out a power play during a delayed penalty with a foolish frustration flash behind the play. Not very bright.

14:36 left: Trotter makes it 5-1 on a penalty shot, smoking Leggio with a neat deke to the backhand. Shot was awarded after the puck was glove out of the crease (sorry didn't see by who and you don't get many replays in the minors).

11:35 left: Drew Schiestel helped off the ice after a collision in the Hamilton zone. Not much weight on his left leg. Remember, this was his first game since January after a knee injury ended his season in Portland prematurely.

Game over: The Amerks lost, 5-2, with Colin Stuart getting the other goal with 2:09 left. Final shots were 32-27 for  Rochesterl. Your intrepid blogger had more info posted here and never hit Publish and it thus went into cyber vapor lock. Apologies.

 

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Live from Sabres-Kings in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany -- Wow.

I can use a ton of words to describe Berlin. Breathtaking. Jaw-dropping. Eye-popping. Inspiring. The list goes on and on and on, but it comes back to one word:

Wow.

This place shot to the top few cities I've ever visited, with its history, architecture and culture staring you right in the face with virtually every step you take. Thankfully, I made sure to take in all I could despite not getting settled in Germany till 4:30 a.m. I'll sleep some other day. Today was about see this place.

It's unreal. I'll put pictures up Sunday, but the journey included the big-name places such as Checkpoint Charlie and Brandenburg Gate, and the day's Three Stars: the Berlin Wall, Reichstag and Olympic Stadium. I wish I could expand on them more, but if I'd saved time to do that, I wouldn't have gotten to experience them. So, again, check back Sunday for a look at this amazing place.

We're about an hour from faceoff for Buffalo-Los Angeles, and it will be the first time on the O2 World ice for both teams when the pregame warm-up starts. They both canceled the morning skate after late night/early morning arrivals.

"It's even for both teams," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who will start Ryan Miller in goal.

We'll be back when the puck drops at 2 p.m. in Buffalo.

1:30 p.m.: Just a quick pregame update -- the NHL again fails to supply its media with adequate working conditions. The Internet works great in the media workroom ... but the real workroom is the press box. The Internet does not work great up here.

FIRST PERIOD

2:21 p.m.: Thanks to my (drinking) buddies over at Sabres.com for lending me some of their Web equipment to get online now that we're down to 13:26 left in the first period. And thanks to the NHL for ... nothing. Well, I guess I should be thankful they picked the Sabres to come to Europe. Other than that ...

2:23 p.m.: It's 0-0 and they're playing "Rock Me, Amadeus." Nathan Gerbe got stoned by Jonathan Bernier early on a breakway. Bernier stuff Patrick Kaleta at the side of the net, and a 10-skater scrum ensues with 13:19 to go.

2:26 p.m.: The fans here are WAY more into the game than the Finnish crowd last night. And the folks in O2 World are backing Buffalo.

2:28 p.m.: Fans again break into an arena-wide, "Let's go, Buffalo."

2:32 p.m.: As the teams head to commercial with 9:19 left, the fans break out the wave. Meanwhile, on the ice, the rink crew breaks out the shovels to clean the ice. Don't forget, Tom Golisano said his ownership group invented that. Glad to see it made it all the way across the pond. Good job, Tommy Boy.

2:37 p.m.: It's weird. Teppo Numminen said the official sport of Finland is hockey, while soccer rules Germany. But it's a hockey-focused crowd in here. Still 0-0 with 6:00 left.

2:39 p.m.: Christian Ehrhoff crumples to the ice after a check in the corner by Jarret Stoll. Athletic trainer Tim Macre comes out and helps up Ehrhoff, who heads right to the dressing room.

2:41 p.m.: Roughing call on Stoll.

2:43 p.m.: Kings kill the penalty as play stops with 3:44 to go.

2:48 p.m.: Vanek called for interference with 54 seconds left.

2:49 p.m.: and the teams head to intermission in a 0-0 tie with Los Angeles holding a 12-9 shot edge.

SECOND PERIOD

3:06 p.m.: Ehrhoff is on the bench as the puck drops. And yet another bratwurst has dropped out of my sight. Mmmmmm.

3:08 p.m.: The Sabres kills the Vanek penalty. PK is perfect this season.

3:11 p.m.: The crowd gets to cheer Vanek again as he sets up Luke Adam for a goal with 17:20 left, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead. Vanek, while prone on the ice, feeds Adam in the slot, and the center slips one through Bernier's pads.

3:15 p.m.: Adam strikes again, giving Buffalo a 2-0 lead with 15:00 left. The center tried jamming the puck at the side of the net, was stopped in front and made sure the third time was the charm, punctuating the goal with a windmill.

3:23 p.m.: The Sabres head to the power play after Jack Johnson, who hates Canada, interferes with Tyler Ennis with 10:07 left.

3:27 p.m.: Kings again kill the penalty, but Sabres take a 2-0 lead into the commercial break with 8:01 to go. I can't believe the game is half over. When it's completely over, we head back to Buffalo. I really could use another day in Berlin, but RC Land is fine, too.

3:31 p.m.: The pro-Buffalo crowd gets another reason to cheer, as Paul Gaustad deflects Nathan Gerbe's pass from the right boards by Bernier with 6:41 to go. A "Goose" call goes out as the Sabres take a 3-0 lead.

3:40 p.m.: Drew Stafford heads to the box for tripping with 1:44 to go.

3:42 p.m.: Anze Kopitar blasts a one-timer from the top of the circles, giving the Kings a power-play goal and sending the Sabres into the dressing room with a 3-1 advantage.

THIRD PERIOD

4 p.m.: And we're 20 minutes of hockey away from heading back to North American. (I promised myself I wouldn't cry. Dammit.)

4:06 p.m.: Kevin Westgarth of the Kings goes for cross-checking with 17:38 left.

4:08 p.m.: Gerbe shoots and Drew Stafford scores on the rebound, giving the Sabres a 4-1 lead on the power play with 16:02 left. I hope my passport is in my bag.

4:14 p.m.: The Sabres' apparent 5-1 lead is under review, as Ehrhoff's point shot is tipped by Cody McCormick in front and Patrick Kaleta may/or may not have nudged it in with 12:42 left.

4:17 p.m.: No goal, as officials say Kaleta didn't get to the puck in time after McCormick hit it with a high stick. It's 4-1.

4:23 p.m.: Only 10 minutes left till the mad dash to the dressing room and the airport.

4:28 p.m.: After Stafford runs over Bernier, the Kings take exception. The resulting scrums with 9:01 left include penalties to Gerbe (slashing) and Brad Richardson (roughing).

4:33 p.m.: I love the accent in "Let's go, Buffalo." It's 4-1 with five minutes left.

4:35 p.m.: Kopitar keeps the Kings afloat, cutting to the net and accepting a pass from Justin Williams, then depositing a backhand past Miller with 4:14 to go.

4:42 p.m.: The Sabres wrap up a 4-2 victory, and we're wrapping up a helluva week. So long, Europe. See ya Sunday morning, America.

---John Vogl

Travel delays strike Sabres

BERLIN -- Greetings from Germany ... finally.

The Sabres landed in Berlin just before 3 a.m. today, two hours past their expected arrival following Friday's 4-1 victory over Anaheim in Helsinki, Finland. The team's departure was delayed by baggage problems, and the Sabres didn't go airborne in Finland until 1:50 a.m., which was 12:50 in Germany.

The two-hour flight touched down at 2:50 a.m. German time, and with another half-hour tacked on for unloading luggage, the buses didn't get rolling until 3:20 a.m. The traveling party arrived at the downtown hotel at 3:50 in the morning, just 16 hours before their 8 p.m. faceoff with Los Angeles.

--John Vogl

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Live from Sabres-Ducks in Finland

HELSINKI, Finland -- Imagine, if you will, you're sitting on a trolley when the conductor goes into a long spiel in Finnish. You don't speak Finnish, which comes into play when the train detours from the road you're supposed to be on.

Thankfully, a college kid from Canada who is studying abroad tells you the train is just going off route for a few stops then will come back. Sure enough, the train heads back on to the right road. Kid gets off at next stop, says everything should be fine.

Then, a few stops later and about eight shy of the arena, another Finnish announcement. This time when the train stops, everyone gets off. Um, OK. Thankfully, yet another English speaker explains why. It seems because the train is so late they're taking it out of service. Time to start the long hike.

And the reason for the sweat-inducing troubles? Finland is hosting Sweden in a European soccer qualifier, and half the city is shut down.

Thankfully, I made the walk to the arena without all the German sausage, Finnish reindeer and beers from all over the Eastern Hemisphere causing me to keel over. Now it's time for some hockey.

We're less than an hour from the Sabres' season opener, and the fans are streaming into Hartwall Arena. For some reason, most of the fans are wearing stupid-looking paper helmets being handed out by EA Sports. And when I say stupid looking, that's being nice.

Should be an exciting game. The Sabres have Cup hopes, while the Ducks have Finnish national hero Teemu Selanne and arguably the best line in hockey -- Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.

More when the puck drops.

FIRST PERIOD

1:02 p.m.: A word of warning -- the Internet in the building is as consistent as Tim Connolly. What is churning with regularity is the '80s metal. Twisted Sister is on right now.

1:18 p.m.: Internet connects just as Thomas Vanek scores with 15:58 left.

1:19 p.m.: The Ducks have a bigger backing in here, with the fans rhythmically clapping for them when they have the puck, but the Buffalo goal brought a big cheer.

1:21 p.m.: One quick rant then it's back to hockey: The NHL, which prides itself on being a cutting-edge member of New Media, cannot put together an event with effective Internet. Past drafts have been a disaster. This is turning into one.

1:23 p.m.: The commercial break with 12:24 left features North American Ducks players trying to speak Finnish. It's funny because they are as bad as the NHL's Internet.

1:27 p.m.: The Sabres take a 2-0 lead with 11:30 left, again scoring from the slot. A pinching Andrej Sekera feeds Finland native Ville Leino in front, and he goes gloveside on Jonas Hiller as he's falling down.

1:32 p.m.: Sabres power play is 0 for 1 after Ducks kill a tripping call to Perry with 9:24 to go.

1:35 p.m.: Ducks back on power play after interference by Robyn Regehr on goal-mouth scramble with 6:42 left.

1:37 p.m.: Sabres kill the penalty.

 1:39 p.m.: A press box has been set up in the corner of the lower bowl, and our seats are mixed with the fans. Two Sabres fans are sitting next to me, so anyone who knows Casie Attardi of Brooklyn and Nick Jordan of Olean, they say hello from Helsinki.

1:40 p.m.: Terry Pegula used to be Nick's hockey coach. Exhibit No. 123413508980284582067426 that Buffalo is just a big small town.

1:43 p.m.: Regehr and George Parros head to the box with 1:23 left with roughing penalties.

1:45 p.m.: And the Sabres head to the dressing room for the first time in the 2011-12 season with a 2-0 lead and 9-6 shot advantage.

SECOND PERIOD

2:04 p.m.: The second period has begun.

2:07 p.m.: Ryan Miller makes a big save with 17 minutes left to keep it scoreless, and the arena goes even further back with the metal as Led Zeppelin blares through the speakers.

2:09 p.m.: Drew Stafford limps to the bench with his left leg not doing much work after colliding with HIller with 15:32 left. Stafford is not getting any medical attention on bench so must be OK.

2:11 p.m.: The Ducks' Nate Guenin scores (for now) with 15:28 left, his point shot getting tipped by Maxime MacEnauer and deflecting through Miller's pads.

2:14 p.m.: The captain answers with 14:15 left. Pominville gives Sabres a 3-1 lead, getting a rebound in front, taking it out to the right dot, turning and beating Hiller through traffic. Stafford is back.

2:18 p.m.: There is no way this Finnish dude in the row in front of me is going to make it through the game. He's all kinds of messed up.

2:21 p.m.: Stafford and Koivu go to box after mixing it up following a whistle. The Finns were not happy that Christian Ehrhoff returned the favor of knocking down Koivu during play.

2:24 p.m.: Drunkie and his gal pal depart midway through period. Not sure where they're going, but he was nice enough to lift her jeans back above her exposed thong.

2:27 p.m.: Four-on-three for Sabres for 35 seconds after Ducks penalty.

2:29 p.m.: Vanek's second goal of the night comes on the power play, with help from Anaheim's Cam Fowler with 8:01 left. Vanek, in front, takes two whacks after a pass from Ehrhoff, and instead of clearing the rebound, Fowler shoots the puck into his own net to give Buffalo a 4-1 lead.

2:33 p.m.: By the way, it's 9:33 p.m. in Finland. I'm just writing in Buffalo time because that's what's at the bottom of my computer.

2:35 p.m.: Miller stops Bobby Ryan on the doorstep after a turnover by Adam deep in the Buffalo zone with 4:46 left.

2:39 p.m.: Sabres back on PP after Guenin goes for interference with 2:59 left.

2:41 p.m.: Ducks kill penalty, and Miller stops short-handed goal try in front by Andrew Cogliano.

2:43 p.m.: Sabres head to the dressing room with 4-1 lead and a 25-19 edge in shots.

THIRD PERIOD

3 p.m.: The concession stands in Hartwall Arena sell cigarettes. They also sell Tupla candy bars. I went with the latter. Game on.

3:06 p.m.: Drunkie and his thong-wearer have yet to come back. So far this season, I'm 1 for 1 on predictions. The Sabres maintain their 4-1 lead with 16:13 to go.

3:07 p.m.: Roy goes for hooking with 15:51 left.

3:09 p.m.: Anaheim calls a timeout with 14:35 left after Ehrhoff heads to the box, giving the Ducks a five-on-three for 44 seconds.

3:11 p.m.: Sabres easily kill the Roy penalty.

3:12 p.m.: And they kill the five-on-three.

3:17 p.m.: The Sabres are halfway through the third period still holding their 4-1 lead. The fans are whistling. I don't know what that means. Normally, it's for a no-penalty-call, but here it's whistling for some other reason.

3:21 p.m.: The wave is in full swing in Finland with 8:36 left.

3:26 p.m.: The Sabres kill yet another penalty, this one to Ehrhoff, and maintain their 4-1 lead with 4:30 left.

3:32 p.m.: There's one minute left, and I've got to head downstairs to beat the concourse crowd. The Sabres open the season with a convincing victory and look as good as advertised.

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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