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The ButtGoal goes viral

Puck in your pants? GAME OVER. on Twitpic

 An animated GIF of the Sabres' Christmas gift from SBNation

By Mike Harrington

The ButtGoal is everywhere.

The Sabres beat Phoenix last night, 2-1, as Mark Pysyk was credited with an overtime goal after the puck landed in the pants -- and on the butt -- of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, who slid back into the net with it in tow. As I wrote in my column for today's paper, it was an early Christmas present (or at least a Festivus Miracle!) and seemingly the start of a reconciliation of a team and its bedraggled fan base.

We covered a wacky hockey game and went home. It snowed. Then I woke up and checked my computer and phone and the crazy finish is the toast of the Internet.

It made SportsCenter and FOXSports1, as you would expect. The Eye on Hockey blog from CBSSports.com has a video from the Coyotes' broadcast. Yahoo's Puck Daddy gives its take too.

But it's gone way bigger than that.

It was on NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America". It's been in the top 10 stories all morning on CNN.com with the headline "Puck-in-pants goal wins NHL game" and a link to the Turner-affiliated Bleacher Report. It's also on the New Day blog of CNN's morning show, after the serious stuff like Obamacare, South Sudan, the International Space Station spacewalk and Edward Snowden. Those wackos at Deadspin chimed in too. And the Yahoo post I cited above also made it on the Yahoo Eurosport blog for the UK and Ireland.

Here's the MSG video, with some classic byplay between Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray that included these nuggets as the replay rolled:

Continue reading "The ButtGoal goes viral" »

South Buffalo's Kennedy carving niche on the wing with Coyotes

TK
Tim Kennedy has finally found a comfort zone in Phoenix. (Getty Images)



By Mike Harrington

Tim Kennedy is on his eighth pro team since the Sabres bid him farewell in August, 2010, by putting him on waivers and then buying out his contract after he won a $1 million arbitration award. This isn't even his first trip back to Buffalo, as he has visited with both the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers. But it's the first time he's actually found a home.

Kennedy is playing left wing on the Coyotes' top line, along side big guns Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal. He's played at least 15 minutes in four of the last seven games, and clocked in at a season-high 19:05 in Thursday's game in Toronto.

Kennedy endured three separate trips to Portland of the AHL this year, including one out of training camp, but returned Nov. 21 and tonight's homecoming will be his 15th straight game. He has one goal and five assists but his pointless in the last 10 games. Still, he's helping to contribute to the offense as Vrbata is the team's leading scorer with 27 points and Hanzal is tied for third at 24.

"They're easy guys to play with," Kennedy said after the Coyotes' pregame skate here today. "Marty is just a big guy, strong on his stick, strong in the corners and a really good two-way centerman. Verbie is a great shooter. You get him the puck in the slot. I add some speed, some skill, some grit. I like to pass before shooting so I'm looking for the two of them. We've been working well down low."

Kennedy finished last year with San Jose and signed with Phoenix when he figured the loaded Sharks roster was not his best bet to make the NHL as a regular for the first time since he played 76 games as a rookie with the Sabres in 2009-10.

Still, he struggled in training camp and started the season in the AHL.  He's on a two-way contract that pays $700,000 in the NHL but just $150,000 in the AHL.

"I didn't have the greatest camp in the world by any means," he said. "So I went to Portland, kept working hard and got called up three times. It seems I"ve stuck this team and I have to keep working because I'm happy to be here."

Tonight's biggest opponent: Coyotes or the flu?

By Mike Harrington

The Sabres have a flu bug affecting several players, so we're going to have to wait until tonight's warmups to really know who is taking the ice against the Phoenix Coyotes in First Niagara Center. Interim coach Ted Nolan said 4-5 players called in this morning and said they would not be attending the morning skate. Here's what we do know:

1). Defenseman Mark Pysyk and forward Johan Larsson have been recalled from Rochester and Nolan said both will be in the lineup tonight. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has been returned to the Amerks while forward Kevin Porter, who was injured Saturday in Boston, has been placed on injured reserve. Nolan said Cody Hodgson remains out.

2). Look for Ryan Miller in goal tonight. Miller is 4-0 with an 0.99 GAA and .964 save percentage in four career starts against the Coyotes. He will be opposed by Coyotes workhorse Mike Smith, who will start his 31st game of the season, one off the NHL high. Smith (15-8-6, 2.87, .913) leads the NHL in shots against (968) and saves (884).

3). Who was missing this morning? Newcomer Linus Omark was the lone player Nolan confirmed was among the flu-stricken. Also not on the ice were Alexander Sulzer, Ville Leino, Henrik Tallinder and Mike Weber. 

The Sabres could be a little thin for this game. They can put John Scott in the lineup but can't make any other recalls from Rochester because the Amerks left this morning for Switzerland to play in the Spengler Cup tournament that opens on Thursday.

"I kind of felt something was up with the team because we weren't as strong," Nolan said, referring to Saturday's loss in Boston. "We're not the strongest team but at least we're starting to battle for pucks but I thought we were knocked off them pretty easy. They didn't have that certain jump. We had it for certain periods of time but we didn't have it as consistently as we have the last three or four games. I kind of felt something was up."

4). The Coyotes, meanwhile, have a lineup that features South Buffalo native and former Sabre Tim Kennedy. He has one goal and five assists in 20 games but is playing big minutes on a line with Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.   Veteran Shane Doan remains out while battling Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Click below to hear Nolan's pregame session with the media:

Ted Nolan

Late-night video: Phoenix goalie Smith does one better than most Sabres by scoring a goal

By Mike Harrington

Click above to see a pretty rare video -- a goaltender shooting the puck into the opposite net to score. It happened late Saturday night in Phoenix as Coyotes netminder Mike Smith tallied into the empty Detroit net with one-tenth of a second left for the final goal in a 5-2 victory.

Smith is the 14th goalie to score in an NHL game and the seventh to do it by actually shooting the puck into the goal.

So to put it in perspective that Sabres fans can understand, Smith has more goals this season than names such as Steve Ott, Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers and Mikhail Grigorenko, and the same number as Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Brian Flynn. Great.

One of the goalie goals, the only one by a Sabre, was by Mika Norenen in Toronto in 2004. Here's the video of that one. It was an "own-goal" with Norenen getting credit as the last Sabre to touch the puck.

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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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