April 21, 2010 - 7:02 PM
BOSTON -- Time to stop talking and start playing. In the case of Cody McCormick, it's time to start hitting. Thanks to all who joined tonight's live chat. If you missed the chat, Thomas Vanek is out. I would look for him to play Friday. For our next live chat, be sure to be there at the crack of 6:30 on Friday, prior to Game Five at HSBC Arena.
The giant black-and-gold Bruins banner is being shuffled over head by the Bruins' fans through the lower bowl. That's a pretty awesome sight. Of course, on MSG, you're probably seeing Cellino and Barnes. And in SD, no less.
It's really an embrarrassment what the Sabres are doing on TV. The whole country has the game in HD thanks to Versus, except the people who care about it the most. Disgrace. HD is standard and expected by viewers. The Sabres should be doing all 82 in HD next year. That's my rant. Thanks to Versus for giving me until 7:10 to make it.
We'll be watching the lines closely after an optional morning skate. First surprise is the starting lineup with Tim Connolly on left wing. Gaustad is centering and Grier on the right. Interesting.
7:05 p.m.: The teams have yet to take the ice.
7:06 p.m: The Bruins hit the ice and the place goes beserk, with gold towels twirling over everyone's head. Waaaaay louder than HSBC, which loses a lot of volume to that high dome of a roof. The roof here is flat and low....And a lot of the volume here isn't the fans, it's the incredible volume of the music over the PA.
7:07 p.m.: Boston starters are Lucic-Bergeron-Recchi. On defense it will be Wideman and Hunwick.
7:09 p.m.: The anthem by local legend Rene Rancourt. Dude's got a set of pipes. But Vogl points out he's no Tara Minogue.
7:11 p.m.: Faceoff.
Observations: As you would expect, the building has been electric. What's interesting is that most of the fans on the sides -- especially the side behind the benches -- stood through the whole overtime (the fans on the end are sitting). It's given the game a very collegiate feel.
Bucky just came back and said he saw a NESN highlight that the score of this one is on the Green Monster at Fenway Park. The telecast showed the dude inside the wall changing the period from "4" to "5"
Stats: Game tied. Shots are 35-33 for Boston. Faceoffs are tied at 30-30. Buffalo has 21 blocks, Boston 19. Boston has a 47-43 edge in hits. This is a total splitting hairs game. Wow.
The minutes are really piling up for individuals too. Myers and Lydman lead Buffalo at 32:59 apiece. Montador, who has been terrific aside from soring a goal, clocks in at 31:41 and has a game-high six blocks. Chara has been on the ice for 34:21 to lead all players. Boychuk and Wideman are at 31:00 for Boston. Torres, Connolly and Recchi all have a game-high five shots on goal.
Multi-OT minutiae: The Sabres haven't gone double overtime since losing to Ottawa in Game Two in 2007 on Joe Corvo's bouncer past Miller from the right point. Some guy named Drury lost the faceoff that directly led to that one. Buffalo is 4-4 in multi-OT affairs (3-3 in 2-OT games). Boston is 7-8 (4-6 in 2-OT).
10:27 p.m.: The pucks drops for the fifth period. The crowd is absolutely roaring.
18:57: BRUTAL SHIFT for the Connolly line. Stuck for a minute. Bergeron just missed.
16:55: Lucic around Lydman, stopped by Miller.
15:36: This is the first multi-OT game of this year's playoffs. Love watching little Ennis pushing big Chara at a whistle.
14:51: Miller takes a shot on the collarbone from Lucic and crumbles. Ouch. He's up. Shaking it off.
14:10: TOO MANY MEN ON THE ICE ON BUFFALO. Only saw one replay but it looked like Stafford left early and tried to whirl around and get off. Ridiculous.
12:19. Satan does it to his old team on the backhand. On the power play. Absolute killer. Only shot on the PP too. BOSTON WINS, 3-2. Good night, season.
Numbers through regulation: Such an even game. Shots and score tied. Hits are 39-38 for Boston and faceoffs are 27-24 for the Bruins. ... Torres has a team-high four shots for the Sabres. Recchi leads Boston with five. ...
OT info: This is Buffalo's first OT game in the playoffs since they lost Game Five of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals on the Daniel Alfredsson goal. ... The Sabres are 4-3 in playoff overtime against Boston -- and the last one was all the way back in 1993. You might remember that one as MayDay. Buffalo is 31-25 in its history in playoff OT. Miller is 6-4. Rask has never been in one in the playoffs. Pominville and Montador (for Anaheim vs. San Jose) are the only Sabres with a playoff OT winner. No Bruin has more than one either.
9:46 p.m: The puck is dropped for OT.
18;27 left: One shot apiece.
15:43 left: Ennis makes a dangerous pass to himself at the Buffalo line, races across the line and gets tripped by Bergeron. Wow, Would this be a time for a PP goal now?
13:40 left: Connolly hits post, Miller stops Wheeler on breakaway, Stafford just high. No shots on the PP and nearly a SH goal. Jeez. And 0 for 14.
12:10 left: Miller ROBS Bergeron. Call a cop.
11:15: Rask stops Mair on an Ennis drop pass. Would have l iked Ennis to keep it.
10:49: Rask stops Connolly. Shots are 6-3 for Boston.
9:35: Two stops on Kaleta.
6:17: Not many whistles. Shots are 6-6.
5:15: Rask stops Roy.
3:48: Highway robbery by Miller on a Satan backhand wtih the glove on a dive. The goal horn even went off briefly. Sabres losing too many faceoffs in their end.
And we are going to DOUBLE overrrrtime: Shots were 10-8 for Boston. It's 35-33 for the Bruins. Much better scoring chances for the Bruins in the last 40 minutes. Miller has saved the Sabres' bacon, even though he probably hates the second Boston goal.
Of note: Montador has five blocked shots in addition to his goal. Gaustad has four hits. McCormick had all three of his in the first period. Torres has a team-high three shots on goal. Recchi has four for Boston. Boston has a 19-18 edge in faceoffs and a 29-28 edge in hits. Sabres doing a better job with the puck, as they have only six giveaways tonight after piling up 47 in the first three games.
Of note II: Looking forward to getting back to HSBC. They play non-stop music here before the game and during the intermissions and most of it is at heavy-metal volume. Even the Monkees "I'm a Believer." Jeez, take the volume down just a notch, folks. The season ticket-holders here must be deaf after a whole season of this.
8:58 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
18:23 left: Miller stones Recchi from the right circle.
18:02 left: McCormick goes for goalie interference for crashing into Rask going for an Ennis pass.
17:53 left: And the power play strikes right away. Maybe the Sabres should take notes. Faceoff win, point shot by Hunwick, rebound goal by Krejci ahead of a diving Gaustad. Boston gets within 2-1.
17:26 left: Kaleta for boarding.
15:00 left: Great work by Grier to help kill penalty.
13:20 left: And it's tied up. Jeez. Bergeron gets the goal, sweeping the puck under Miller after good work by Paille. Kind of like Crosby beating him. First really bad goal of the series against Miller and what a horrible time. Boston ties it 2-2 and the Sabres call a timeout. You've got a two-goal lead through 40 minutes and you can't crumble like this. Two goals on four shots.
12:00 left: The "Mil-ler, Mil-ler" chants have never been louder. Place is rocking.
11:00 left: Rask's best save of the series, a dive to his left to deny Grier after a great Connolly feed.
9:30 left: Sabres dominating in the Boston zone, much better since Ruff's basketball-style timeout.
8:21 left: Wheeler off the post to the left of a shaky-looking Miller.
3:30 left: Still tied. Shots are tied too at 23-23.
We are going to oooooooooovertime: Miller bailed them out in the final 40 seconds with saves on Bergeron and Paille. Shots were 9-9. Tied again. Odd. 25-25 through regulation. No way this game should be at this point. Scored first in four straight. A pair of two-goal leads. Think the next goal is big? Just a little bit. Stay tuned.
8:11 p.m.: Sorry for the delay, Harrington lost his Internet. There's 14:34 left, and Craig Rivet and Milan Lucic just dropped the gloves for a fight. It's 1-0, and Harrington will be back in a moment. John Vogl signing off.
13:25 left: A high-five to JVogl. I sent in a notebook for the print edition and got all locked up and Internet booted. Figured it all out now. Shots are 3-2 for Boston. Sabres having more trouble in their zone in this period. The best chance however was by Kennedy, who shot just wide from right in front of Rask on a big rebound off a Torres shot. Rivet held his own in mostly a clench with Lucic after McCormick started hostilities for going right at Chara with a solid push.
13:01 left: 2-0, Buffalo. Montador fires from the right point and it gets through Rask after it got through Krejci and hits Wideman's stick in fronti. Great play by Gaustad to create traffic. Assist to Connolly, his first point of the series.
10:27 left: Rask stops Montador from in front.
9:22 left: Solid road game thus far. Pucks in deep in the offensive zone. Good physical play. Miller unflappable. A 15-11 edge in shots (7-3 in this period).
6:56 left: A few seconds after Recchi hits the post Miller bails the Sabres out with a great pad save on yet another 4-on-2 (bad pass from Roy sent the Bruins away). The Buffalo forwards MUST stop the back passes in the offensive zone, especially the way their passing has been off. It's just creating odd-man rushes for the Bruins.
5:44 left: Lydman goes for tripping on another 2-on-1 break.
3:31 left: Bruins fall to 0 for 3 tonight and 1 for 9 in the series. Bigger news however: Tallinder took a shot to what appeared to be the right hand and was in huge discomfort on the ice and as he headed to the bench
1:30 left: Tallinder is back on the ice.
48.4 left: Bergeron fans from the slot and Montador swallows the puck for a whistle.
End-2nd: 2-0 for the Sabres through two. Shots were 8-8 again and are 16-16. Miller comes through big as Sabres had just one in the last nine minutes.
17:48 left: The Sabres score first again as Kennedy beats Rask after McCormick takes out two Bruins behidn the net. McCormick had nailed Sobotka 33 seconds earlier in the Buffalo zone too. HUGE start for him. McCormick was playing with Ennis and Mair. Kennedy had come off the bench. Great pass by Ennis after McCormick created space. 1-0, Buffalo on Kennedy's first career playoff goal. That's the way to respond for his play at the end of Game Three. Four straight games scoring first. Can you really go 1-3 doing that in a series where goals are at a premium?
15:30 left: Here's the lines -- Connolly-Gaustad-Grier, Stafford-Roy-Pominville, Ennis-Mair-McCormick, Torres-Kennedy-Kaleta.
14:00 left: Two more hits by McCormick on his next shift.
13:19 left: Shots are 5-2 for Buffalo at the first TV timeout. Standing ovation as the Boston College hockey team is introduced after winning the Frozen Four. Nice touch.
11:42 left: Rask with a nice top on Sekera after Miller stopped Lucic.
11:23 left:: Shots are 6-3 for Buffalo. Re my earlier point about scoring first, Bucky correctly points out how comfortable Boston has seemed when playing from behind. Several players told me yesterday the Bruins simply don't panic and that's how this series has gone. It's against the normal grain but it's been no big deal for Boston thus far.
7:27 left: The fans trying to get their team going with "Let's Go Bruins" chants. Rask makes a nice stop on Torres and a brief scrum develops. Kennedy gets the lone penalty, a cross-checking call. Pretty weird you only get one out of that. Sobotka was throwing punches at Kaleta.
5:20 left: The penalty is killed. Great play by Myers to break up a Satan pass in front. Boston 1 for 7 on the PP in the series.
4:45 left: Rivet gets a holding penalty but it's a dubious call in these eyes. He got the puck in his race with Wheeler. Of course, JVogl correctly points out the loose puck was set up by a horrible pass from defense partner Sekera. Rivet did get his right hand on Wheeler but still. Jeez.
3:09 left: Lucic gone for boarding. Hit Tallinder from behind into the end boards. Fans not happy. Neither is Claude Julien. Boston PP now 1 for 8. Sabres will have 1:36 on the PP. Lindy Ruff would call that a short one. I don't.
1:00 left: That's 0 for 13 for the PP. No shots but at least there was better zone time.
End-1st: Shots are 8-8 as the Sabres lead, 1-0, through one. Chara and Kaleta met hard at the buzzer and linesman Greg Devorski made the big takedown on Kaleta to end things and draw hoots from the crowd.
April 19, 2010 - 7:07 PM
BOSTON -- Greetings again from high atop the TD Garden and thanks to all who were on board for tonight's live chat. Have rectified a few Internet issues and we should be good to go. A HUGE pregame show just finished, highlighted by a boffo video presentation and a giant black-and-gold banner being passed over the fans all around the lower level of the bowl.
So much talk at these things with days off between games. We need to see some hockey. Faceoff is 7:10. Starters for the Bruins are Lucic-Bergeron-Recchi-Chara-Boychuk. For Buffalo it's Kennedy-Roy-Ennis-Myers-Tallinder.
Of note: The Sabres had six giveaways in the second period. It's 7-2 for the game and 46-16 for the series in that category. Ugly. Boston has a 20-18 advantage in faceoffs but Roy has done a great job, going 11-3. Bergeron is just 4 for 9 for Boston. Tough night in the circle for Gaustad (4-8). Grier has a game-high six shots on goal and has by far been Buffalo's best forward. Good for him but not good for a team that needs its top-six to do something. No Sabre has more than one goal in the series.
8:56 p.m.: The puck is dropped. The Sabres didn't emerge from the dressing room until there was 1:02 on the clock in the intermission. The Bruins were already waiting on their bench. Don't know what that might mean. Just sayin'.
19:39 left: Gaustad goes nose to neck with Chara after Rask makes an early stop.
17:44 left: Rask stops Myers after a neat Kennedy feed. More pressure from this team when it's 5-on-5 rather than on the putrid power play which, by the way, is 0 for 12 in the series. You may have heard.
16:48 left: Millllllller with the stoning of Ryder from just to his right. Best save of the night. Kennedy, by the way, got a stick to the face a few seconds earlier and went to the bench slowly.
11:13 left: Miller stops a Satan backhand to end several uninterrupted minutes of play. Shots are 4-4 but you get the feeling the Sabres are holding on here. And you can't play for a shootout anymore.
7:03 left: And a hit does the damage. Old man Recchi destroys Kennedy behind the net and hits Bergeron for the one-timer to Miller's right, with Gaustad late on the coverage. 2-1, Bruins. Sabres just physically manhandled in the final two periods of this one.
6:13 left: Little late for the Sabres to start a ruckus, isn't it? Rivet badgers Ference and Sekera and Sobotka go at it. The place is going absolutely nuts. I'm betting Rivet gets an extra. We'll see. Penalties are even. Rivet got lucky. Still 5-on-5. Torres and Ference got 10-minute misconducts. Rivet and Wideman got minors, Sobotka and Sekera got majors.
4:32 left: The "Mil-ler, Mil-ler" chants going wild. Sabres are in a desperate situation but they sure haven't played too much desperate hockey, have they?
44.7 left: Miller out. Timeout, Buffalo.
It's over: A 2-1 loss for the Sabres and a 2-1 series lead for the Bruins.. Final shots were 33-29 for Buffalo.
Of note: A crazy day here with the Marathon and the 11 a.m. game from the skidding Red Sox, who are 1-6 at Fenway and off to their worst start here since 1932 after the Rays completed a four-game sweep with today's 8-2 win. Maybe I'll have to check them out tomorrow night against the Rangers. The Marathon was intense. Took the subway over to Copley Square and when I say wall-to-wall people, I mean wall-to-wall. Sea of humanity. Runners going down the streets. Huge reviewing stands. Flags of nation. What a scene.
Back to hockey: Great job as always by the Bruins' PR staff, easily one of the league's best. Lots of pregame, ingame and postgame notes. Reminder on first goals: Sabres were 31-6-4 in the regular season when scoring first and Boston was 11-22-9 when giving up the first. So far in this series, Buffalo has scored first all three times. It would be a pity to lose twice in those situations. Very tight period: Hits were 16-14 for Boston and faceoffs were 8-7 for the Bruins. Both teams charged with only one giveaway. Hmmm. Sabres were hit with 39 in the first two games in Buffalo (Boston charged with only 14).
8:02 p.m: The puck is dropped and we're under way in the second period.
18:03 left: Lucic goes for high sticking Rivet. Earlier in the period, Lucic took a hard hit from Torres and has been pretty invisible again.
16:00 left: Invisible would be a good word for the Buffalo power play. One shot (by Stafford) and it falls to 0 for 10. The combinations were Connolly-Gaustad-Ennis-Sekera-Myers, and Roy-Pominville-Stafford-Lydman-Rivet. Nothing different other than the names.
14:06 left: Boychuk LEVELS Ellis at the Buffalo blueline and Ellis goes off favoring his left shoulder. Shades of Campbell-Umberger. It's a tough sport. Keep your head up. That said, is anyone on this team going to do something about Boychuk? Hmmm.
12:40 left: Paille gets in too close and loses the puck on a break. Went right around Sekera, who should be joining us in the press box for Game Four based on this performance.
11:21 left: Nice stick save by Rask on Ennis. Shots are 5-5 in this period but you feel like the Bruins are setting the physical tone and have an edge.
10:58 left: Miller with the save on Ryder as the Ennis and Stafford both had trouble in the Buffalo end with the puck.
7:41 left: Gaustad for interference in the Boston zone.
7:05 left: Some good news -- Ellis is back on the Buffalo bench.
5:40 left: Good clear by Grier helps kill the penalty.
4:54 left: Sabres running around in their zone again and Sekera takes an interference penalty. When he gets out of the box, that should be it for him tonight.
3:11 left: Miller helps Sabres survive and Sturm kills the PP with a holding-the-stick call.
1:09 left: PP falls to 0 for 11 with a ridiculously uninspired effort. They can go for 0 for 12 now as Ference takes a silly tripping penalty in his own end.
End-2nd: It's 1-1. Shots are 21-20 for Buffalo (10-7 Boston in that one). Bruins unhappy that Begin took a stick to the mush from Myers in the dying seconds. The Buffalo power play is an abject joke in this series. All the practice in the world is amounting to nothing because they don't win any puck battles to set up in their own zone and they turn the puck over in the Boston zone.
16:30 left: We're back after more Internet issues. Rene Rancourt, a fixture from the old Garden, did a great anthem and the fans have their gold towels twirling. Shots are 3-2 for the Sabres in the first three minutes. Quite a buzz in the stands. Not as much off-the-top hitting as the first two games.
15:29 left: Miller makes the top save so far on a Sturm one-timer from the left circle.
14:34 left: Miller looks Vezina-worthy again with a stop on Wheeler from the slot.
14:00 left: Folks here booing Montador? Really? He played, what, 20 games here?
13:03 left: The Sabres score first for the third staight game. It's Mike Grier, beating Rask with a quick snap shot after a nifty feed from Raffi Torres. Nice headman work by Tallinder to get it to Torres too. And the crowd goes quiet. Perfect combo: Early Miller saves and the first goal. 1-0, Buffalo
9:00 left: More random thoughts: Nice save by Rask on Ennis. ... Rivet has been brutal in his own end so far. ... Torres has made a couple nice plays with the puck other than the goal. ... Nice pressure by the Mair-Kaleta-Ellis line.
7:45 left: Shots are 8-7, Boston. Key point to the TD Garden press box: Root beer in the soda fountain and a first-intermission appearance from the dessert cart. Double thumbs up.
6:42 left: Post-shot scrum in front of Rask leads to our first penalties: Gaustad and Ference for roughing. Torres was in the middle of that too. Probably his best period as a Sabre.
6:36 left: Nice job by Rask to corral Lydman's one-hopper at the last second.
4:43 left: Wideman ties it on a wicked one-timer from the slot off a Sobotka feed with the teams playing 4-on-4. Sekera was caught and so was Ennis, after he was bumped off the puck in the Boston zone. That left Rivet back with Grier. Bruins tie it, 1-1.
4:20 left: Here's your first real "Mil-ler, Mil-ler" chants of the night.
1:11 left: Rask spears Roy's shot with his glove. Both goalies have been sharp and on their toes.
13.6 left: Rask robs Grier on a backhander from in front, as he scooped up a Gaustad rebound. There have been some rebounds given up by Rask. See if that trend continues.
End-1st: It's 1-1. Shots are 14-10 for Buffalo
April 17, 2010 - 12:59 PM
Greetings again from high atop HSBC Arena for Game 2. Thanks to all who joined today's live chat. Be sure to join us again Monday at 6:30 from TD Garden prior to Game 3.
Roster news: Andrej Sekera is back in and Chris Butler stays out. So Lindy Ruff saw enough apparently in Game One. Seems like a good call. Derek Roy is OK and playing after sitting out yesterday for maintenance.
I'm told the faceoff is more in the 1:20 range today for NBC. We'll have all your updates here.
Thank-you NBC: We're in a holding pattern with music playing ("Saturday in the Park") and the zamboni out while NBC gabs. Good thing there's no deadlines today or you'd have some surly press box denizens. McGuire and Milbury in the box between the benches.
Butler and Stafford announced as the scratches. Boston will start Begin between Paille and Lucic with Wideman and Ference on defense. Sabres' starters will be Connolly between Pominville and Ennis with Rivet and Sekera.
Love the opening video montage of the great playoff goals of the HSBC era -- with the Campbell-Umberger hit thrown in. And here comes Sabretooth from the rafters again. Dude's nuts. Another great roar from the crowd as the team hits the ice. They've been ready two days in a row. Darren Pang has Rivet for a quick NBC chat and now it's Doug Allen time.
Stats through two: Bergeron and Pominville lead the game with four shots on goal apiece. Boston has a 23-22 edge in faceoffs and a 43-32 edge in hits (Sobotka has eight and Grier has seven).
The puck is dropped: 3:12 p.m
17:30 left: Hit of the day was a collision between Boston teammates Ryder and Ference just inside the Buffalo line. Ouch. Ference got the worst of that one.
14:37 left: The Sabres got caught on a 4-on-2 (Connolly, Ennis and Pominville were the culprits) and Ryder makes them pay with his second of the game to pull the Bruins into a 3-3 tie. Shots are 3-0 for Boston. Did the Sabres really think they could kill 20 minutes doing nothing?
12:37 left: Disaster. Chara's floater from the left point is deflected hom by Krejci and the Bruins have a 4-3 lead. Sabres, remember, were 31-0-0 leading after two this year counting Game One. Boston now has its first lead.
11:45 left: Shots are 6-0 in this period for Boston.
11:33 left: They've announced that goal for Chara. Sabres get a chance to tie it now as Shawn Thornton goes for high sticking.
10:48 left: Chara bounces off Connolly into the back of net. Big guy was dazed.
9:45 left: Sabres get their first shot of the period from Pominville in front, a few seconds after Connolly passed up a great shot to Rask's right.
6:10 left: Icing on the Bruins. Shots are 7-2 for Boston in the period, 30-25 overall. Sabres have to find some offense. A lot of long faces in the plaza just made it up on the HD board.
5:10 left: Rask with the save of the game on a Grier breakaway.
3:14 left: Bruins hanging on at last TV timeout.
1:34 left: Miller out.
1:07 left: Faceoff in Boston zone. Timeout by Buffalo.
35.8 left: After Myers stops Begin from the open net, Rask gloves a Lydman slapper. Faceoff in Bruins zone. Timeout, Boston.
19.4 left: One final giveaway by Lydman leads the empty netter for Recchi. Boston leads 5-3. A killer injury to Vanek and a killer loss after leading by two with a two-game lead in the series in the offing.
It's over: A 5-3 Bruins win. Shots were 31-29 for Boston and 8-6 in the third.
Of note: No word on Vanek but it certainly didn't look good. Crosby's high ankle sprain game cost him 28 games two years ago. He missed 21, tried to play for two and missed seven. There's no embed code available but if you go to this link, you can see what happened to him. I know a lot of you are saying it's the knee as I did my intermission check of the comments section. We saw one replay up here. No one saw a slash on the one we saw. As for his status, there's no word yet. During the game, they would only tell us he won't return or will return. No word yet. Stay tuned for the postgame.
2:19 p.m: The puck drops. Vanek, as expected, is not on the bench.
17:25 left: The Bruins get back into the game as Sobotka's blast gets through Miller, off his blocker and dribbles home. Buffalo, 2-1.
16:30 left: THE OFFICIAL WORD: Vanek has a lower-body injury and will not return. Here's the CBC video. One point: I see the slash now on the right knee. But he left the ice favoring his LEFT leg.
14:56 left: Second-period blues again. Kennedy off for hooking.
13:06 left: Miller stones the Boston PP, with Krejci's rebound the best chance.
10:06 left: Chara gets a deflection to Miller's right and makes no mistake to tie it at 2-2. Great play by Bergerson to set it up.
8:21 left: They just announced a scoring change. (Cue the sarcasm meter: That never happens here). Anyway, the first Boston goal is now being credited to Ryder. One plus for the crew today: Nobody has gotten a get-out-of-jail-free card early from the penalty box so far today.
5:00 left: DomHasek's comment below is false. CBC's Jeff Marek has tweeted nothing on Vanek other than lower body/out for the game.
4:06 left: Krejci makes a great backcheck on Kaleta, stopping a good chance on a 2-on-1. Shots are 8-8 in this period but it sure feels like the 24-8 of Game One. Bruins have been all over Sabres in the Buffalo zone.
3:19 left: THERE'S a play from Tyler Ennis. Hops on a loose puck behind the Boston net (thank you, Lucick) and feeds Pominville in front for a one-time laser over Rask's right shoulder. Sabres take a 3-2 lead.
35.5 left: Paille smokes Myers with a deke but can't beat Miller on the backhand from in tight. Huge save in the final minute.
End-2nd: For the second straight game, the Sabres get badly outplayed in the second period and somehow walk off with a 3-2 lead. Shots are only 11-10 for Boston (23-23 overall). The play seemed like a much bigger difference.
1:20 p.m.: The puck is dropped
First minute: Lucic got hit three times, by Connolly, Rivet and Myers. And he sparred with Rivet at a whistle. Sabres have been excellent physicall in this series.
18:00 left: Kaleta gets into Chara again in the corner, then gets drilled by Boychuk going to the bench. There is a TON of nastiness in this series. Way more than any other going.
17:05 left: Myers has been awesome so far. No questions in wake of Game 1. He puts Buffalo up 1-0 with a low shot that Steve Begin tipped by Rask. Second chance for Myers after a great deke on Lucic at the line. Myers' first career playoff goal from Tallinder and Vanek. First goal -- early -- two games in a row. That's a winning formula.
15:00 left: Big hit by Mair on Wideman. Hey, whatever happened to the Big Bad Bruins?
13:36 left: First TV timeout. Shots are 6-3 for Boston. Nothing real dangerous however. Same lines for Sabres as you'd expect. Ran them out in this order: Ennis-Connolly-Pominville, Mair-Gaustad-Grier, Torres-Ellis-Kaleta, Kennedy-Roy-Vanek. By the way, apologies for an error in the live chat. I said Pierre McGuire was here for NBC. It's Darren Pang (confession: looked without the binoculars and saw the bald head between the penalty box. Bad assumption.)
13:04 left: Sobotka goes for goaltender interference for crashing Miller. He collided with Rivet but didn't really stop either. Sabres have to get that call. Frankly, all teams do or goalies will get killed.
12:36 left: Roy walks right around Chara and Rask stops him from in tight. Boston's big man is vulnerable tgo Buffalo's speed, folks.
11:21 left: Not much on the PP other than the Roy chance. Weak play by Connolly on the wall lost the puck. Unit one was Lydman-Pominville on points with Roy-Vanek-Ennis. Unit II was Sekera-Myers on point with Connolly-Kennedy-Gaustad.
10:56 left: Roy goes for holding the stick. Sabres got caught in 2-on-1 with Sobotka coming out of the box.
10:35 left: That's it for that Boston PP. Krejci with a stupid high-sticking penalty against Gaustad in the faceoff circle.
8:12 left: Shots are 10-7 for Boston.
8:00 left: Matt Ellis -- yes, Matt Ellis -- makes like Don Luce and burns Rask on the backhand to put the Sabres up, 2-0. Kaleta with the feed. Terrible goal by Rask. Luce used to drive goalies crazy with those shots. Kaleta and Torres on the assists.
6:21 left: Boychuk hooks Vanek and No. 26 crashes into the end boards -- and limps off with no pressure on the left ankle. That's a disaster. He could hardly get into the bench and had to hop down the tunnel. There was no way for Vanek to protect himself and those feet-first slides into the end are so dangerous.
3:55 left: Nothing on the PP. Couple close calls. Shots are 12-11 for Buffalo but a lot of the starch is out of this crowd in the wake of the Vanek injury. That one didn't look good. JVogl said it was reminiscent of the Sidney Crosby high ankle sprain in 2008, also a feet-first spill. Not to spread panic, but Crosby was hurt on Jan. 18 and didn't return until March 4. Yikes.
1:00 left: Torres nearly makes it 3-0 but taps one off the post past a beaten Rask.
End-1st: Sabres lead 2-0 with a 13-12 edge in shots. Here's why Chara is so hated: He runs across the ice to drill Ennis at the horn in front of the Boston bench (it was a clean hit). Picks on the smallest guy on the ice. Ridiculous. And Chara bolts down the tunnel off the ice as Montador was coming. Extremely ridiculous.
April 15, 2010 - 6:55 PM
Enough hype. Enough talk. It's time to drop a playoff puck in Buffalo for the first time in nearly three years.
It's the Sabres and Bruins in Game One from HSBC Arena. Go here to review our pregame chat, which ran from 6:30-7 p.m.. It's a new feature that will run for 30 minutes before every postseason game, home and away. Be sure to join us Saturday at 12:30 for the next one.
A TECHNOLOGY NOTE: We apologize for the premature crash to the chat. Someone who shall remain nameless (you know who you may be) hit the end-chat button. That was it for all of us. Toast. At least it happened at 6:53 and not earlier. Be sure to join us Saturday. Maybe we'll even start at 12:15 to make it up to you. And thanks for coming.
If you need to catch up on all that's gone on and been said today, click back to the Sabres Edge main link.. Lots of chatter from the morning skates, including audio files of some key interviews.
Before we start the final 20 minutes, a shout-out to Mike Robitaille. The Sabres broadcaster is recovering at home from his recent surgery. As he told Bucky in an email printed in Sunday's Inside the NHL column and also sent to me, Roby asks we send "a big thank you to all the people that sent cards, calls and prayers. I'll never get back to all them and I'm starting to feel guilty!!!!!" Not to worry, Roby. Just stay the course and get better.
You have to give it up to NHL.com managing editor Shawn P. Roarke. He's going to all eight Eastern Conference playoff cities in eight days. Be sure to follow his blog here. Great stuff. Also, the 24 shots on goal by the Bruins in the second period equaled the playoff record against Buffalo, last set by Chicago on April 20, 1980.
Remember: Sabres 30-0-0 this year when leading after two. Only team in the NHL last 12 years to be perfect. That better hold.
The puck has been dropped at the stroke of 9 p.m.
18:07 left: Two excellent shifts for the Sabres by the Gaustad and Roy lines. Kennedy got another shot to the mush from Chara too.
14:27 left: Bruins have one shot in 5 1/2 minutes. That's a lot more like it.
12:58 left: Disastrous shift for the Roy line and Sekera-Rivet. They finally get the puck out but Pominville doesn't get it in deep and the Bruins nearly score as Krejci goes to the net and Miller stops him.
11:30 left: Vanek having his best game of the year, in this building at least. Undressed Johnny Boychuk and nearly got in alone. Boychuk recovered at the last minute.
10:42 left: Rask with the save on Connolly. In a tight-tight period, Sabres have a 4-3 edge in shots. Pominville (high sticking) and Recchi (roughing) get coincindental minors for a scrum after the whistle.
9:41 left: Huge save by Miller on Satan on a 2-on-1. Lots of open ice with the 4-on-4 and a bad pass sent Boston away.
6:40 left: Vanek flying all over the ice. It finally results in a tripping call on Dennis Wideman, who hauled down Roy to the left of Rask.
4:50 left: Rask keeps the Bruins alive with a great save on Pominville off a Roy rebound.
4:20 left: Back to the PP as Satan is nailed for putting one over the glass. Delay of game.
2:20 left: Rask again stops Roy on a rebound off Vanek. Two huge saves to keep Boston alive.
1:35 left: Faceoff outside Buffalo line.
1:10 left: Rask out.
6.7 left: Miller makes a big save, Grier gets it out and Chara is gone for hooking. This baby is over. The crowd is up and roaring as there's a timeout.
IT'S OVER: Sabres take the opener, 2-1. Shots were 12-6 Buffalo in the third and 39-32 Boston for the game. Odd. Bruins had just 15 total shots in first and third period. Great third by Sabres. Still perfect after two.
Second Period has started: All the penalties from the fight came at 15:14 of the first. Chara got two for roughing, two for crosschecking, Lucic got four for roughing. Lymdan got two for roughing. So did Montador and Torres. Kaleta for a 10-minute misconduct. That's 24 minutes total for the two teams.
18:40 left: Lydman makes a great play to come back on Lucic, of all people, to snuff out a partial breakaway.
17:55 left: Miller makes the stop on Wheeler on a 3-on-2..
17:39 left: Ryder tip off the crossbar on a Chara point shot.
15:39 left: Ennis right around Chara. Rask the save.
14:50 left: Boychuk off the post. Bruins have been by far the better team in this period. Sabres have not come out of the dressing room with the same intensity. Shots are 6-2 Boston. Kaleta out of the penalty box now after his misconduct. That should help.
13:49 left: If this was a chat, Joe would have been banned months ago. Can't ban people in a live blog. But can we get real and enough of the Cowan-McCormick garbage? It's the PLAYOFFS for God's sake. AHL lunkheads need not apply.
12:57 left: Miller robs Bergeron twice, on a tip and a rebound, to get some "USA-USA chants going." But the fact is the Bruins are overdue to tie this game. A much better forecheck from Boston in this period has the Sabres on the ropes.
11:16 left: Lydman goes for cross checking. Bruins have a 12-5 bulge in shots in the period and 21-17 for the game.
10:30 left: Told you. Two saves on Chara, no clears and Recchi pumps it home to tie it at 1-1 on Boston's 15th shot of the period. And you thought the Sabres weren't going to take periods off in the playoffs.
8:10 left: Kennedy on the bench after getting popped in the month as he pushed to the Boston net. Shots are 19-6 for the Bruins in the period. Yes, 19-6.
7:52 left: Miller makes the save on a one-timer from Marco Sturm in the left circle. That was Boston's 20th shot of the period. Wow.
5:50 left: Nifty little backhand drop pass from Kennedy sets up Rivet and he rips a bullet to the top corner to make it 2-1 Buffalo. Rivet had one goal the entire regular season. Great time for one here. There shouldn't even be three stars in this game. Nobody but Miller should get one.
5:08 left: Rivet's lone goal in the regular season was Jan. 21 at LA. Pretty wicked cut Kaleta got courtesy of a shot to the glass from Steve Begin. Lots of blood. Told you this was like watching 80s hockey at times. JVogl chimes in with a salute to the crowd for its standing O for the recipient of Chris Butler's "TIckets for Troops" charity. Easily the best response we've seen here to that all season.
4:28 left: Pominville fans on a 2-on-1 on feed from Ennis. Obviously, a two-goal lead would be massive for Miller, especially against the Boston offense.
3:32 left: Vanek goes for tripping.
1:25 left: Sabres kill it with no shots against.
END-2ND: The Sabres somehow survive to emerge with a 2-1. Shots were 24-8 for Boston and 33-20 for the game.
Of note: I'm a little surly. The boxes of press popcorn have shrunk dramatically. That just means I eat more. I know that doesn't affect you folks. But just saying. Can the Sabres really play this rock-em-sock-em style for the whole game and multiple games? That will be interesting. Somebody better do something about Lucic. What he was doing to Lydman was pretty ridiculous. That said, the whole thing was great fun. It was old-time hockey.
Like the Sabres-Bruins in '88.<
Pregame: Nice video montage of great moments from the '06 and '07 playoffs on the HD board. AND SABRETOOTH IS RAPPELING FROM THE RAFTERS. Another great Stanley Cup video to greet the Sabres (although I miss Hell's Bells). Crowd erupts. Lots of blue and gold pompoms as they take the ice. They're stretched across the blueline in numerical order and getting introduced individually by Rick Jeanneret. Guess it's a recording because he just said Drew Stafford's name (he's a scratch) and Adam Mair had to skate twice. And he said Chris Butler, Nathan Gerbe and Jochen Hecht too.
Biggest roars were for Tim Connolly, Patrick Kaleta, Tyler Myers and, of course, Ryan Miller. The starting goalie's steely eyes came right through his mask.
Jay Moran makes the call to "PLAY SOME PLAYOFF HOCKEY" for the first time in nearly three years and we're ready.. Mair-Gaustad-Grier-Tallinder-Myers start for Buffalo.
19:00 left: We got plenty of "Tuuuuu-kkka" chants going. Crowd is not 2007 level but already better than any night this year.
18:19 left: Good shift from Kennedy-Roy-Vanek. Lots of pressure.
17:31 left: One shot apiece. Connolly had Buffalo's. Bounced out of Rask's glove. No real threat but he didn't catch it either.
16:30 left: Rask stops Myers after some good work by Torres.
16:22 left: Miller robs Satan on a rebound after failing to control Chara's snap shot from the point.
15:08 left: The perfect start. Roy goes right around Matt Hunwick, drops a pass to Vanek and the red-hot No. 26 fires a BULLET past Rask from the right circle. 1-0, Buffalo.
13:02 left: Mair to the dressing room (looked like a shoulder) after a blindside collision at the whistle with Michael Ryder.
11:30 left: May not be any penalties tonight. Mair was hit after the whistle, Chara was roughing up Vanek for several seconds and Pominville just created interference in front of the Boston goal to free up Ennis for a great chance. Rask with his best save. Bruins would have been wild if that puck had gone in. With good reason.
11:00 left: We got a Verzon Center-style trumpeter up here tooting the "Lets Go. Buffalo" melody. Nice.
9:35 left: Roy hits Lucic from behind? Odd one. Roy really playing with a terrific edginess so far.
8:47 left: Mair is back on the Buffalo bench.
7:20 left: Vanek with the backcheck on Wheeler -- and the crushing hit into the end boards. Vanek and Roy definitely playing at a different gear.
5:50 left: Ennis looks a little nervous even though he had the one good chance. Ruff has been working with him at the bench a couple times and he just passed up a great chance to shoot in the boston zone and circled. Fire away, kid.
4:46 left: A HUGE OUTBURST ERUPTS. Chara was going for hitting Kaleta from behind. Torres headlocked Chara (good for him). Then Lucic started attacking Lydman and Montador had to jump in. Most interesting part was MILLER AND RASK moving about 20 feet in front of their goals and staring each other down. Didn't Miller say he'd never deal with Rask unless there was a line brawl yesterday? Almost happneed in FIRS?T period. Ref Dan OHallaran stared at Kaleta and called nothing. Came from Brian Pochmara at center ice.
3:00 left: Vanek between the legs pass nearly set up Ennis on the PP.
1:04 left: A hooking call on Adam McQuaid. We all want to know how Chara was back on the ice. They announced four minutes for him and he came on the ice after two.
1:04 left: Now Chara back in the box. No other penalty announced. It's 5-on-4. How does he not get another two minutes?
End-1st: A wild period ends with Buffalo up, 1-0. Shots were 12-9 for Sabres. They have got to do a better job in this building announcing penalties in the PA and press box. That was a disaster.
April 15, 2010 - 6:02 PM
Join us 30 minutes before every Sabres playoff game for a live chat. We're going to try to keep it on topic. Questions on this game, this series, please. No looking to the future, no thoughts on the franchise as a whole. Let's talk about tonight's game here. Every night the Sabres take the ice.
Then be sure to join us for our live game blog in a new thread as the television broadcast signs on.
April 15, 2010 - 12:21 PM
Claude Julien was holding a pretty nondescript press conference this morning until he was asked by a Toronto reporter if the Sabres had the advantage in goal because of all of Ryan Miller's experience in 2006 and 2007 and the fact that Tuukaa Rask is making his playoff debut tonight. The Boston Bruins coach scowled.
"Who cares? Really," Julien said. "If they think that's an advantage, good for them. We feel very confident in Tuukka and we also feel very confident in the guy that's with them (Tim Thomas, Miller's Olympic backup). We feel we have a good 1-2 punch. To us, that's comfortable enough."
"I don't worry about any media hype," said Rask, who has slightly better goals-against and save percentage figures than Miller (1.97 and .931), but hasn't nearly mastered the art of the interview like the Buffalo goaltender has. "You don't worry more about what he's doing. It's the playoffs and you play your game."
The Bruins will also get some comfort from the return of Andrew Ference on defense. He's missed nine games with a groin injury.
Click below to hear the audio from Julien's pregame meeting with the media.
April 15, 2010 - 11:03 AM
Jochen Hecht figured he'd be doubtful for Game One against Boston. Now he's out for the series, and maybe longer.
Hecht, who had surgery last week on his left pinkie, has undergone another procedure and won't return to the Sabres for weeks.
"Jochen was re-evaluated and had to have some further work done," coach Lindy Ruff said after today's morning skate. "He’s out now for what would be weeks instead of days. He had a small procedure. That’s disappointing."
Ruff said the finger was not infected, just sustained further damage.
Hecht missed the final three games of the season, though he played five games with the ailment suffered against Tampa Bay on March 27. Hecht had 21 goals and 21 assists this season and has been a solid playoff performer during his 10-year career. He has 31 points in 58 playoff games, scoring 14 times.
Left wing Tyler Ennis has assumed Hecht's role alongside center Tim Connolly and right wing Jason Pominville.
"The playoffs are about losing people and people stepping into bigger roles," Ruff said. "He’s obviously been an important part of our team for the year, and now somebody has to step in and fill that void for us."
April 6, 2010 - 7:08 PM
Greetings from HSBC Arena as the Sabres go for the Northeast Division clincher tonight against the Rangers. No need to give you any updates from out of town. It's all here on the ice tonight. Just win.
A couple of announcements first off. The Sabres have announced expanded plans for their playoff Party in the Plaza, featuring a tent to cover much of the plaza and allow the parties to go on rain or shine. Good move.
Also, if you're interested in a look at the Stanley Cup, it will be on display Wednesday from 1-7 at the Amherst Ice Center as part of the kickoff for USA Hockey’s Youth 12 & Under and 14 & Under national championships. (You do have to buy a ticket to the tournament to be admitted to view the cup).
Some applause in the crowd when captain Craig Rivet was announced as a scratch. Heh. Wishful thinking folks. He's got the flu. Sure, he's had a rough season. But don't underestimate what he means in the dressing room. Key guy.
17:54 left: While I was finishing up the print notebook, another goal and the defense involved again. Montador sets up Ennis. His third of the season and seventh point in seven games makes it 5-2. Rangers are toast in this one. They're hurting on the scoreboard too as Philly has a 1-0 lead in Toronto and Montreal is in a 2-2 tie on Long Island.
17:27 left: Jody Shelley for roughing. Stupid penalty. Rangers disintegrating.
12:03 left: Not many whistles. Not much happening except the clock ticking away -- which is exactly what the Sabres want. Rangers have just two shots in the period. Not the way to mount a comeback.
8:55 left: The alumni 50-50 draw winning ticket for $20,000 is pulled by Gilbert Perreault and Mike Robitaille, who gets a huge roar from the crowd. Wearing a neck brace and waving gently, Roby's voice is strong as he announces the numbers. Good to see.
8:00 left: It's a dire spot for the Rangers in the standings.. Montreal takes a 3-2 lead on Long Island. If the Habs and Flyers hold their leads, they'll be sixth and seventh respectively. Boston will be in eighth with 85 points, three up on the Rangers with three games to play. Blueshirts are just about toast even with two games left against Philly.
4:20 left: Gerbe goes to the bench after a shot to the mouth. Ouch. Out of town, by the way, the Devils have a 3-0 lead in Atlanta while the Penguins are down, 4-2, after two against the Capitals. If that holds, New Jersey will be second in the East with 99 points and Buffalo will be at 98. Pittsburgh would be at 97.
4:11 left: Sweet Caroline time. Not much reaction. These folks probably have never lived the eighth inning at Fenway Park.
2:30 left: Shelley tries to sit on Miller and the Buffalo goalie is not happy. Nor should he be. Lydman and Roy intervene and Shelley goes for two. Still would have liked to have seen more reaction. Big reaction fromm the crowd as Miller gets two for roughing.
1:00 left: Big cheer from the crowd. And the celebration finally commences in the final 40 seconds.
It's over: A 5-2 win. Final shots were 32-30 for the Rangers. Division championship No. 6 in franchise history.
The Sabres hold their sticks up high at center ice as the crowd roars and "2010 Northeast Division Champs" blares on the scoreboard and ribbon board. Nice.
Of note: Check out the excitement in Dundas, Ont., after the Hamilton suburb was named winner of Canada's "Hockeyville" contest. Its community arena will host a preseason game between the Sabres and Ottawa on Sept. 28.
19:07 left: Stafford kills the PP with a hooking penalty. He broke his goal drought but has been in the middle of two bad penalties.
15:00 left: Butler and Sekera have been at trainwreck together. Sabres just spent the last minute in their end. Miller bailed them out, as usual.
14:43 left: Hecht puts Buffalo up, 3-2, sweeping one past Lundqvist after a great cross-ice pass from Pominville. And a leaping screen in front by Myers, of all people. Hecht's 21st.
14:43 again: Look at this. Lundqvist gets the hook for Alex Auld. He skates to the bench, closes the door and sits down. And John Tortorella pats him twice on the chest. Three goals on 16 shots. None of them were very good.
10:43 left: Everyone up. No one is worthy as Miller just pulled maybe the save of the season. It was a 4-on-1 and he stoned Marion Gaborik's one-timer from the left on a perfect feed from Brandon Dubinsky. Think goaltending makes a difference in this game and this season? Wow.
8:30 left: Pominville and Ennis just had the Rangers tied up in knots and created three quick chances on one shift. The kid is good. Have to keep shooting on Auld. Shots are 9-7 for Buffalo in this period and 21-20 overall.
6:38 left: Like I said, keep shooting. Lydman does it with a quick wrister from the slot on a neat feed from good Stafford. No. 21 having quite the up-and-down game. That's the 30th goal of the season from the defense. Lydman's fourth. 4-2, Sabres.
4:00 left: Butler-Sekera trainwreck II. Lots of chatter up here Lindy should think about going four-deep on defense the rest of the night. Jeez.
1:15 left: Drury gets the catcalls as he's gone for hooking Kennedy.
End-2nd: 4-2 Buffalo through two. Shots are 26-22, Rangers. But the better goalie is winning this game. Buffalo is 28-0-0 when leading after two. A division title is 20 minutes away.
18:07 left: Henrik Lundqvist makes an Olympic-sized save in the early going, spearing Tyler Ennis' backhand with the glove. Excellent start by the Sabres, who have a 4-1 edge in shots. Lots of life in their legs.
16:05 left: Sabres get nailed for too many men on the ice. Blatant. Shouldn't happen. Maybe too much jump in the legs. Stafford was waaaaaaaaaay early coming on.
14:00 left: No shots on the New York PP. No changes in the lines: Kennedy-Roy-Stafford, Gerbe-Gaustad-Grier, Hecht-Ennis-Pominville, Torres-Ellis-Mair. The defense pairs are Myers-Tallinder, Lydman-Montador and Butler-Sekera. Let's see how Butler goes without Rivet.
13:03 left: There's your answer on Butler. He gets completely outmuscled in front by tough guy Brandon Prust, who pumps a quick snap shot over Miller's shoulder to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Plenty of "Let's Go, Rangers" chants coming out of Section 315 to our right.
11:00 left: Michal Roszival goes for holding.
10:03 left: The Sabres take advantage to tie the game as Roy whistles one home over Lundqvist's shoulder after it hits the goalie's arm. Assist to Ennis. Roy ties Pominville for team-high honors with No. 24.
7:04 left: Ryan Callahan drills Myers from behind and kudos to Roy and Stafford for jumping in for defense of the big guy. Big thumbs-down to Lydman, who should have done more than just grab Callahan. Looks like Roy and Callahan are getting coincidental minors. Boo. Myers might have turned a little but you still hate the hit.
5:04 left: Stop the presses. Drew Stafford's long national nightmare is over. Using Myers as the decoy, he snaps one past Lundqvist to make it 2-1 (five-hole goal...gotta make that save). It's Stafford's 14th. His first goal since Feb. 5, snapping a 16-game drought. And he had just one in 25 games dating to Jan. 16.
3:26 left: Ellis for delay of game. Didn't see a replay. Thought we heard it hit the glass. Lots of puzzled looks on the ice too.
1:42 left: PA Parenteau ties it at 2-2 as Dan Girardi's point shot leaks through Miller and leaves a tap-in in the crease. Parenteau's third of the season. Just the 13th power play goal in HSBC against Buffalo all season.
26.6 left: Girardi for tripping but a huge braincramp from ref Justin St. Pierre for whistling the play while the Sabres had the puck in the zone with a good chance working. No clue what the dude saw. Brutal.
End-1st: Shots were 13-12 for the Rangers and the score is 2-2.
April 1, 2010 - 7:00 PM
TORONTO -- Greetings from high atop the Air Canada Centre as the Sabres try to clinch the Northeast Division for the first time since 2007 by sweeping the season series against the boys from LaffLand and setting a franchise record in the process.
Buffalo has won 10 straight games against the Leafs, tying its all-time mark against an opponent set against Washington from Jan. 24, 1981-Jan. 7, 1984. The Sabres have won eight straight on the road against Toronto and can break that mark tonight as well (old record is 8, against California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons -- remember them? -- from Jan. 15, 1975-March 16, 1977.).
The Sabres and Leafs haven't met since Jan. 8 and this is certainly a different Toronto team in the wake of the trade deadline. J.S. Giguere will start tonight in goal and Dion Phaneuf -- rated the most overrated player in the NHL in an SI players poll -- is on defense and that's really just for starters. Sad to say, we won't here the booming PA voice here utter "Alexi Ponikarovsky" anymore. Too bad. Dude has real pipes and let that name rip at every chance. Too bad we can't see the Sabres torture Vesa Toskala in goal any more.
"They have better speed and they're more creative now," Lindy Ruff told us during his pregame briefing in the 5 o'clock hour. "They've coming off a good month (8-5-2 in March), have skill up front and players who can move the puck on the move too."
Of course, all is not well here even though the team is playing better.The Toronto Sun is reporting the impeding divorce of Tomas Kaberle from coach Ron Wilson. Kaberle disputed the story this morning, telling reporters he would have pushed a trade at the deadline if it was true. On the happier side, the Leafs have signed Toronto native Brayden Irwin from the University of Vermont and are letting the 6-5 center play in an NHL game tonight before returning to campus for exams. He's in the starting lineup.
The Sabres are scratching the injured Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta as well as defenseman Chris Butler. Ryan Miller is going for his 40th win of the season, which would tie his career high set in 2006-07.
Of note: A piercing fire alarm has been ringing much of the second intermission. They gotta get that fixed a) so we can play again and b) so everyone's ears will still be usable again. ... Out of town: Halfway through the second, Carolina has pulled into a 1-1 tie with Ottawa. ... Gerbe is minus-2 thus far. The Sabres have won 20 of 31 faceoffs and Gaustad has won all eight he's taken.
17:31 left: Myers dives to rob Irwin with Miller out of position and the Gaustad goes for hooking at the end of the play.
15:03 left: Laffs are 0-5 on the PP tonight and have just four shots on goal on those situations. Sabres' PK unit dominant again.
13:45 left: Miller stops Stalberg from in front. Shots are 25-19 for Laffs (16-6 since the start of the second period). Sabres' penalty problems killing their offense.
11:30 left: Luke Schenn's missile from the right point flies past a startled Miller to put the Leafs up, 3-2. Looked like it hit something but Schenn gets the credit. Shots are 8-1 for the Leafs. Just no way to try to wrap up a division title.
10:18 left: Another penalty. Roy for tripping. Sixth of the night on Buffalo. Leafs have just one.
8:15 left: Three good stops by Miller kill off another penalty. Shots are 32-20 for Toronto -- 11-2 in this period.
7:14 left: A whistle goes Buffalo's way as Luca Caputi is nailed for tripping Pominville in the offensive zone. Out of town: Carolina leads, 2-1, after two in Ottawa.
5:14 left: Leafs kill it off.
1:20 left: No whistles. Miller out.
1:04 left: Giguere stops Hecht and then Roy.
36.8 left: Fredrik Sjostrom finds the open net. The Sabres' streak against the Leafs will end and there will be no division clincher tonight. 4-2.
It's over: Final shots were 34-24 -- which means it was 13-6 in the final period after 12-5 in the second. Too many penalties, not nearly enough offense.
18:00 left: Leafs get first three shots, puck has hardly left the Buffalo zone.
15:30 left: As least there's some pace to this game now. Seemed like a whistle every 10 seconds the first period.
15:08 left: The Leafs have been setting the pace and they get rewarded. Garnet Exelby gets the goal firing a puck off the boards to Miller's right before the goalie could get back into place. It was actually a broken play as Mikhail Grabovski foolishly passed on a 3-on-1 when he should have shot. Exelby alertly fired to catch Miller still down. Exelby's first of the season and first since joining the Leafs. Sekera got caught on the play, leaving Rivet alone to defend.
13:37 left: The Sabres come right back to tie it as Steve Montador takes a neat Pominville drop pass and fires a wrist shot off the goalpost and just under the crossbar to make it 2-2. Montador's fifth. Assist also to Ennis, who has five points in five NHL games.
9:47 left: Giguere stones Stafford on a 2-on-0 in front with Kennedy after a Laffs turnover. Dude hasn't scored since Feb. 5 and has one goal in 23 games. Right now, he's got hands of stone.
9:15 left: Tallinder off for hooking. Out of town: Ottawa leads Carolina, 1-0, after one as Anton Volchenkov scores with 12 seconds left in the first period.
6:39 left: Miller stops Rickard Wallin on a clear breakaway after a brutally telegraphed pass by Lydman was intercepted.
4:43 left: Giguere stops Hecht from the edge of the crease after his clearing attempt around the boards was easily picked off by Pominville and quickly fired in front.
4:32 left: Ennis goes for hooking.
3:02 left: Hecht goes for hooking Dion Phaneuf as he was shooting on Miller. Two-man advantage for 30 seconds. The play came just after Phaneuf blew a tire in front of Giguere as he was rounding the Toronto net with no one else in sight. Just about wiped out his goalie and pushed the puck by him too. Would have been a blooper for all time.
2:20 left: Two brutal passes by Laffs clear the puck for Sabres. Nice save by Miller on Phaneuf too.
40.6 left: Sabres kill it. Lousy passing by the Laffs. Nice work by Sabres to keep everything to the outside too.
End-2nd: 2-2 through two. Shots were 12-5 for Laffs in that period and 21-18 for the game.
Of note: They do a great video montage here during "O, Canada" of some of the great goals in Canadian hockey history. Think '72 Super Series, '76 and '87 Canada Cup, etc. Pretty amazing Crosby v. Miller wasn't added to that video. Probably some NBC copyright issue.
16:00 left: All four lines got out in the first three minutes. Terrific work in the Laffs' zone by the Torres-Ellis-Mair line (cheap plug alert: Read some comments from Ruff on Torres in tomorrow's notebook). The lines went like this: Gerbe-Gaustad-Grier, Kennedy-Roy-Stafford, Ennis-Hecht-Pominville, Torres-Ellis-Mair.
Lindy Ruff talked before the game about how Tyler Myers has been involved a few too many "bloopers" for the coach's liking recently on the defensive end. Already one in this period as Myers nearly lost the puck in the crease with no Leaf around and Miller backing up into the net.
13:00 left: Pretty tight period so far. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo. No real glorious chances yet.
11:14 left: Ellis goes for interference. Laffs to the PP. You should see the empty seats in the lower bowl. here. It's not Atlanta-empty but the rich folks have clearly given up the ghost here until next October. Can't see how you can blame them.
9:09 left: Viktor Stalberg puts the Laffs up 1-0 with a bullet over Miller's left shoulder. But the play was made by Tyler Bozak, who went coast-to-coast and circled behind the Sabres' net before passing out front to Stalberg. Third straight game Sabres have given up the first goal.
7:30 left: Irwin gets welcomed to the NHL by taking a boarding penalty against Tallinder behind the Buffalo net.
7:14 left: The Sabres quickly make Irwin pay as Roy jams home a Lydman rebound for his 22nd of the season. Giguere made the save on Stafford before Roy got the second chance.
5:00 left: They've just faced off in Ottawa. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is already in a 3-0 hole on Long Island. Jeez, the Flyers have issues. You can follow all of tonight's scores here.
1:50 left: Miller with highway robbery on Christian Hanson's one-timer from the slot.
0:44 left: Giguere follows by stoning Stafford, tripping up Kennedy on a deke when he was in alone and stopping Roy. All that came in about 25 seconds.
End 1st: It's a 1-1 tie. Shots are 13-9 for Buffalo.
March 29, 2010 - 7:09 PM
BOSTON -- It's time for the suddenly injury-riddled Sabres to face off against the desperate Boston Bruins here in TD Garden. In case you missed any of the injury news, the Sabres announced within the hour that Patrick Kaleta had thumb surgery today and is out a minimum of two weeks (translation: done for the regular season and hope to return in the playoffs). Earlier today, Lindy Ruff told us that Raffi Torres is getting closer to returning.
It's been a brutal day here in Beantown. It is raining cats, dogs and whales from the New England Aquarium next to my hotel. States of emergency have already been declared in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Sabres haven't run into too many snowstorms this season but they've been pounded by rain. Virtually all of their West Coast trip to Phoenix and California was a washout in January.
Of course, all that rain didn't prevent some excellent-as-always lobster bisque at the Boston Chowda company in Fanueil Hall. Yum alert. And waiting anxiously for the dessert cart to make his nightly first intermission appearance up here on the ninth level (yes, level 9) of the Garden.
Onward. And don't forget to turn on Versus for this one. No MSG.
18:00 left: We're back on. Apologies for the sporadic updates as it's been a busy night on the print edition front.
17:29 left: Rask stops Roy on a clear-cut breakaway from the Boston line in. Two chances to build what would certainly build an insurmountable three-goal lead.
13:35 left: You can sense the Bruins frustration building, with scrums at almost every whistle. Shots are 33-30 for Boston. I've been surprised how loosely this one has been played, especially with Boston desperate for a playoff spot. A very non-Bruins kind of game.
12:58 left: As they say in the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry, tonight Miller is Sturm's daddy. Just stoned him again on a slapper from the slot. Dude has eight shots on goal and nothing to show for it.
5:37 left: Uh-oh. Sabres caught on a change by a long pass from Rask and Dennis Seidenberg beats Miller with a snap shot that leaks through his glove. Tough one there after 35 saves. 3-2.
2:14 left: This is hold-on mode with the Bruins buzzing. Shots are 41-32.
57.7 left: Rask out. Icing after bad attempt by Montador.
14.4: Icing on Stafford. He had time too.
It's over: A 3-2 final. Great game by Miller, who made 40 saves. Sabres seven points up in the division and a point out of second in the conference.
Of note: Spoke to Darcy Regier during intermission about injuries. The two weeks cited on Patrick Kaleta is a minimum. That's not necessarily good. Connolly and Vanek, however, sound like they'll be ready for the playoffs. Check out the new post here.
17:20 left: Sabres avert disaster as Blake Wheeler fans with an open net starting him in the face after a perfect pass from Michael Ryder.
16:13 left: First penalty of the game is a holding call on Mancari.
14:20 left: Great work by Pominville on the penalty kill, blocking one shot and causing other trouble for the Boston point men.
13:52 left: Sabres go up, 3-1, as Kennedy dribbles on through Thomas after taking a perfect pass from Roy. Great work along the wall by Stafford. And that's it for Thomas as big cheers greet Tuukka Rask and boos greet Thomas' exit. Quite a fall from grace for him in one season. Kennedy's ninth. Three goals on 13 shots against Thomas.
10:47 left: Miller makes a strong save on Zdeno Chara and Sturm takes a hooking penalty for Boston a few seconds later. Let's see if the new-look power play can give the Sabres a three-goal edge.
9:27 left: Jumbled power play so far. Sabres botch a 3-on-1 and Miller has had to make two good saves. Rask just stopped Myers from the slot.
7:13 left: Got an email and a Twitter message about how Versus keeps saying "Tyler Kennedy" instead of Tim. There's just no excuse for a mistake like that. You're the hockey network. Get the names right.
5:20 left: Miller confounds Sturm again after the Boston winger broke by Montador and got in alone.
2:48 left: Rask solid so far. No goals on 11 shots since he came in. Shots are 26-24 for Boston.
2:04 left: Sabres living dangerously leaving guys alone in front but Miller has been staunch. He just robbed Mark Recchi on the doorstep.
1:47 left: Roy for hooking Chara in front of Bruins net.
1:03 left: Pominville stopped on a breakaway by Rask and then wiped out by Sturm as he tries to poke at a potential rebound. That could have been game-over. The giveaway was by Wideman too. Rough night for him.
End-2nd: Sabres lead, 3-1. Shots are 28-25 for Boston (14-14 in that period). LOTS of boos for the Bruins' PP. Pretty novel to hear boos for the opponents' PP units. .
18:12 left: Making sure the lines are the same as they were in the morning skate. Will report back on that in a sec. I will say this -- there are a TON of empty seats here. Maybe some of it is the weather. It's not Atlanta-empty but it's prettyi shocking.
16:50 left: Ryan Miller has already made two solid saves on David Krejci.
16:40 left: Marco Sturm is stopped by Miller on a penalty shot after he's pulled down by Craig Rivet. Pretty weak effort. Looked like he tried to go 5-hole. Miller was way out of his net and all over it.
16:00 left: Shots are 5-1 for Boston, which has controlled most of the play and had two huge hits: Vladmir Sobotka running over Tyler Myers in the neutral zone and Johnny Boychuk flattening Jason Pominville in the Boston end.
13:30 left: Easily Buffalo's best shift so far sees two chances from the Ellis-Mair-Mancari line. All the lines are the same as this morning: Gerbe-Gaustad-Grier started, it's Kennedy-Roy-Stafford and Ennis-Hecht-Pominville. Defense is Tallinder-Myers, Lydman-Montador and Sekera-Rivet.
12:55 left: Great pressure by the Bruins as Myers, in particular, had a rough shift. Miller was way out of the net trying to stop Milan Lucic and a sliding block by Gerbe prevented the puck from coming out front to a wide-open net.
12:17 left: Krejci gets his much deserved-goal by going around Miller at the goal-line and stuffing it behind the goalie on the backhand to put Boston up 1-0. Weak play along the boards by Rivet, weak play in the slot with the puck by Hecht.
10:04 left: Myers ties it up by fluttering one home from the right point just off the boards Looked like it might have ticked defenseman Dennis Wideman in front before going past Thomas. Myers' 11th.
8:26 left: Sabres go ahead, 2-1, as Gaustad backhands home a terrible rebound given out by Thomas on another simple Myers wrist shot. And strangely enough, that one went in again off Wideman, this time off his skate. Ex-Sabres draftee has two helpers for his old organization. Gaustad's 12th.
1:30 left: This has been a dominant period for Myers in the last 13 minutes. Maybe he needed to clear the cobwebs out after the early hit he took. On the other end is Rivet. How many times is he going to get beat/turn the puck over in this period. Brutal. Gaustad, by the way, has scored in three straight games -- after collecting just one goal in his previous 28. Nice. If there's injuries, other guys have to step up like that.
End-1st: Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 14-11 for Boston. Miller has been better than Thomas, the Olympic teammate he relegated to the bench in Vancouver. The scoreboard reflects that.
March 29, 2010 - 6:00 PM
The Sabres have just announced that Patrick Kaleta had thumb surgery today in Buffalo and will be out a minimum of two weeks. Kaleta was injured Friday night against Ottawa. It would appear he will miss at least the rest of the regular season and would be iffy for the April 14-15 start of the playoffs.
I will be getting an injury/prospect update from GM Darcy Regier during tonight's game and will post his comments as soon as they are available.
March 29, 2010 - 12:56 PM
BOSTON -- Lindy Ruff had no updates following today's morning skate regarding the injuries to Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly or Patrick Kaleta. It is known that Vanek and Kaleta are getting futher examinations by team doctors today in Buffalo. Ruff did say that winger Raffi Torres showed big improvement today (he started the morning skate in a red non-contact jersey and switched to skating in a white one with regular players early in practice), and could be available "within the next few days."
The losses of Connolly and Vanek are going to force the Sabres to completely remake their power play on the fly for tonight's game in TD Garden. The sarcastic of you in the reading bunch might say that's a good thing but it's no easy task this late in the season. The PP setups this morning were
1. Roy-Stafford-Ennis with Lydman-Pominville on the points
2. Hecht-Gaustad-Gerbe with Mancari-Myers on the points
"We replacing PP guys who played it in Portland with our guys," Ruff said. "I don't anticipate it being that difficult. Tyler Ennis stepped in and did a nice job. Mark has been on our power play in his previous callup and I don't think that's an issue. Nathan has worked it in Portland too. We've switched some pieces around. They'll have to learn where guys are going but I don't think it will be that big of a deal."
For a look at tonight's line combinations, at least to start, be sure to go back to our earlier post.
It's a big game for Gerbe, who was a star at Boston College and led the Eagles to a national championship in 2008.
"It's pretty exciting," Gerbe said. "I definitely have a lot of roots here. I played some pretty critical games here in the Garden against BU so it's a lot of fun to come back. I've been looking forward to playing in Boston for a while since I turned pro so I'm looking forward to this chance."
March 29, 2010 - 11:35 AM
BOSTON -- The Sabres are on the ice here at TD Garden in monsoon-drenched Beantown (good thing I remembered the umbrella). Mark Mancari and Nathan Gerbe have joined the club from Portland and here's how the lines stack up at this moment:
The goaltending matchup will be Ryan Miller vs. Tim Thomas, who is coming off a 5-0 shutout here Saturday against Calgary.
March 27, 2010 - 7:23 PM
Greetings from the Arena, where I have spent as much time the last 10 days (between three Sabres games and the NCAA Tournament) as I have anywhere else. I've also spent too much time fighting buggy Internet connections and the Sabres better get on that stick. Anyway, we'll play catchup here as the Sabres are in control against Tampa Bay.
FINAL: Sabres win, 7-1, to clinch playoff berth and give Lalime 200th win. Roy's hat trick goal at 6:10 of the third capped the scoring. Mucho apologies again for the spotty blogging. The Sabres promise -- promise -- their Internet service will be working as it should Wednesday night against Florida. We'll see. I think they should send the bill to that lunkhead photographer at the NCAAs who clearly fried their system.
Of note: Pretty unreal story here on Marc Savard, who had a press conference this afternoon in Boston and is still feeling serious effects from the Matt Cooke hit. Cooke has tried to call Savard but the Bruins center said, "I don't have an interest in talking to him. I'm not feeling any better, so I'd rather not talk to him. … It was an attempt to injure that could have been avoided."
17:15 left: Tyler Ennis stopped on the backhand by Mike Smith. He nearly had another assist as Roy got in alone but Smith made a save.
16:00 left: The third Sabres' goal is back to Gaustad. Of course does he have 11 on the season like the sheet says or 12 because of the switch of last night's goal? I give up.
15:12 left: Lalime's best save of the night, robbing Andrej Meszaros on a one-timer from the slot.
14:22 left: Smith robs Pominville from in front. Sabres have just 10 shots on goal in the game but at least six of them are prime opportunities.
13:03 left: Pominville tips home a Tallinder shot to make it 4-0. It's his team-high 23rd, tied with Vanek. I'm positive he tipped it but in this place you never know. That's because they just announced a "change" on the third goal. It's back to Hecht. Again. Crazy.
10:15 left: Roy emerges from a scramble to tap a puck home on the backhand as the Lightning are simply pathetic in front of their net. 5-0. Tampa Bay is simply waiting for this season to end to get on the golf course.
10:00 left: Lalime is halfway to his 200th career win (finally) and the Sabres have this one under control. The glass is half-full brigade, which includes Lindy Ruff, will be quick to tell you this will be five wins in the last six. And making the playoffs officially is certainly cause for celebration. But this Tampa team is terrible. Beating them up twice in a week is no accomplishment. Only win in the five against a playoff team was the miracle over Montreal. So color me unimpressed.
8:44 left: Ennis gets his second assist of the night and it's a flat-out beauty to Mair for a tap-in after the kid pulled the puck around the Tampa defense. 6-0. He should have been here a lot time ago. He would have been (when Mancari was called up) had he not been hurt in Portland. And don't tell me about "emergency recall". He has to go back to Portland technically when someone comes back but I think that's bunk. They should use a recall on him and keep him. He should be told tonight to get his stuff sent here from Portland because he's not going back. Of course, I don't run this team either.
8:06 left: Great save by Lalime on Nate Thompson.
4:07 left: James Woods the actor is introduced in Tom Golisano's suite. Whatever. But they can't get goal announcements right here.
42.4 left: The shutout is gone as Steve Downie blasts a laser over Lalime's shoulder and off the post to make it 6-1. Great shot.
End-2nd: Sabres lead 6-1 and shots are 18-14 for Buffalo. There's still plenty for this team to prove in the coming weeks. That said, it's hard to argue being 20 minutes away from 92 points. And again being one point out of second place in the Eastern Conference. Finish second and all bets are off because you won't play Ottawa in the first round and you'll be a heavy favorite no matter who the opponent is.
Early first period recap: Buffalo has a 1-0 lead as Paul Gaustad tipped home Craig Rivet's wrister from the right point at 2:24 ... The Sabres are currently on a five-minute power play as Tampa star Vincent Lecavlier got a five-minute major and game misconduct at 6:35 for spearing Tim Kennedy.
11:58 left: Unlike last night, when the five-minute major went nowhere, the Sabres convert here as Roy whips home a rebound of an Ennis blocked shot. 2-0. Roy's 20th of the season.
11:08 left: Two goals on the PP as Hecht's slapper from the right circle is tipped home by Gaustad to make it 3-0. That's it for Antero Nittymaki as Mike Smith comes into the Tampa goal. Nittymaki shows stupidity smashing his stick into the beer ad above the visiting tunnel -- dangerously close to some young fans.
8:08 left: Only two shots on the PP but both go in. Shots are 6-2 in the period.
7:12 left: We'll follow things out of town but the key point to note is that two points tonight officially ends the Sabres' playoff drought. The Penguins already won today (4-1 over Philly) so they have 93 points. The Devils have 91 and are at Montreal. The Sabres open tonight with 90. Ottawa, meanwhile, has 85 and is hosting Florida.
3:00 left: A scoring update -- which is as chaotic around here as the Internet. First off, last night's second goal has been changed back to Gaustad from Kennedy (which is what it should have been all along). Tonight's third goal was announced in the building as Gaustad's second of the night. But the official game sheet says Hecht got it. No announcement in the press box or to the fans. Like I said last night (read the entry at 9:38 p.m.), they gotta fix the scoring in this place too.
1:41 left: Lydman for interference.
End-1st: Sabres lead, 3-0. Shots are 8-5. Devils have a 1-0 lead in Montreal. Sens/Panthers scoreless. Both late in first.
March 27, 2010 - 6:32 PM
After a three-minute wait of course, the Sabres are on the ice for the warm-up here in HSBC Arena in advance of their game against Tampa Bay. Patrick Lalime led them out of the dressing room so that means he will get the start in goal. Tyler Ennis will be wearing No. 63. Antero Nittymaki will start in goal for the Lightning.
Stay tuned for our live game blog, beginning at the opening faceoff shortly after 7 p.m.
March 26, 2010 - 7:34 PM
Greetings from HSBC Arena, where those of you anticipating the wit and wisdom of Mike Harrington will have to put up with me until Mike gets done writing about Gary Bettman. The commish just held a news conference.
Well, the lights are already going dark inside the building, which means the booing is about to start. First it will be for anthem singer Doug Allen, then someone else.
And there it was for Dougie! Game on.
7:37 p.m.: 24-6-4.
7:38 p.m.: Sabres open with line of Jochen Hecht-Paul Gaustad-Mike Grier. Not sure if that's just a tone-setter or if coach Lindy Ruff has split up Hecht-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville. We'll see after they cycle through the four trios.
7:40 p.m.: Patrick Kaleta just missed taking out Jarkko Ruutu, the much-reviled Sen, then dropped the gloves and threw dozens of lefts on Zack Smith, who threw his share of rights. Kaleta then exhorted the crowd on the way off just 2:57 in. He's proving someone is ready to end the drought.
7:44 p.m.: It appears the Sabres' lines will be Hecht-Gaustad-Grier, Tim Kennedy-Tim Connolly-Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford-Derek Roy-Thomas Vanek (with both Stafford and Vanek playing their opposite wings, as they have been doing the past couple of games) and Adam Mair-Matt Ellis-Kaleta.
7:48 p.m.: Just seconds after Vanek drops Chris Neil with a check (yes, you read that correctly), the Senators take a 1-0 lead. Ruutu flips the puck toward Ryan Miller's glove, but Chris Kelly bats it out of the air before it gets there. Kelly then slips the puck under Miller just as the net comes off with 13:18 to go.
7:50 p.m.: The Sabres are hitting every player in white and red. It seems if you can't beat 'em, beat 'em up --- which I'm sure a good portion of fans would be OK with.
7:52 p.m.: First commercial break, which in the majority of rinks means the first appearance of Ice Girls. In Buffalo, it means the first appearance of a bunch of dudes (and two girls) in sweatsuits. Whoo hoo!
7:55 p.m.: We hit the midway point of the period with the Sabres still playing out of first-period character, which means they're hitting and showing tons of life.
7:57 p.m.: Mike Fisher drops Adam Mair with 8:13 to go. I wonder if Carrie Underwood is here.
Note from One News Plaza: The wireless in HSBC Arena has been out since 8 p.m. The Sabres trail Ottawa, 1-0, after one period. Live blogging will resume when the problem in HSBC Arena is fixed.
9:04 p.m.: Welcome back to HSBC Arena, where the Sabres -- who've long been prone to Internet problems -- have surpassed the Florida Panthers as the worst Web provider in the NHL.
9:05 p.m.: While the Internet was gone (again), the Senators built a 3-1 lead. Peter Regin scored on a top-shelf laser with 5:36 gone. Paul Gaustad answered with 9:08 left, though the Sabres'/NHL's crack scoring staff announced it as Kennedy. Then Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa with 5:57 left on the power play.
9:10 p.m.: The second period has come to an end, with Ottawa holding a 3-1 advantage. The Sabres have a 31-21 edge in shots. The physical momentum, however, has moved in the Senators' direction. They took the Sabres' early shots and are now delivering blasts back, with more force (as a number of wincing members of Blue and Gold will no doubt attest).
9:12 p.m.: I now turn the blog over to Mike Harrington, and I'm certain he might have an opinion or two on the night. So ... good night -- JV.
9:23 pm. Harrington here. A big high-five to JV for helping out while I was on Bettman watch. Fine job as usual. The arena's Internet service has become a running joke -- sort of like watching the Sabres try to play Ottawa. Hasn't been right since the arrogant Sports Illustrated freelance photographer crashed everything last Friday during the NCAA Tournament and then tried to blame his dirty work on CBS. Nice.
Anyway, the Sabres have a 31-21 edge in shots through 40 minutes and are in a two-goal hole. Taking just enough stupid penalties, getting beat on special teams and facing a red-hot goalie who's about to go 8-0 against them. A recipe for trouble. Anyone think playing Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs is a good idea? Didn't think so. Lots of rolling eyes in the locker room yesterday as we pressed the Ottawa issue. Hey fellas: Put up or deal with it.
Will be interesting to see how the NHL deals with the Fisher boarding call in the first period. Bettman is in the house and it's a day after the new rules. It looked like and Ovechkin-Campbell kind of play but Kaleta is back in the game and Campbell, of course, didn't return. That shouldn't matter. Based on the rules, it's a hit in the back and should be a suspension. We'll see.
9:28 p.m.: Vogl's eagle eyes point this out -- The Senators are playing without their top two goal scorers (Fisher and injred Milan Michalek) and their No. 4 goal scorer (injured Alex Kovalev) and still are heading to yet another win.
9:29 p.m.: The Sens hit a post and had three other glorious chances on the PP to start the period -- including one where a sprawled Myers made the save. Didn't happen for them and the Sabres stunningly pull within 3-2 as Pominville steals the puck at the Buffalo line and bursts down the ice to beat Elliott for his 22nd of the year at 1:34. Basically a 2-on-0 with Montador out of the box and Pominville had a good decoy to use before firing his shot.
9:32 p.m.: Crowd is fired up again. Think this streak against Ottawa means a little to them?
9:35 p.m.: The whistles have been put away in this one, folks. Guys are getting hooked and hauled down all over the place. Who said obstruction is gone? Bettman scoffed at that question tonight. But this period has been a joke so far, a throwback to pre-lockout days.
9:38 p.m.: Scoring at HSBC Arena by the Sabres' crew (which, in fairness, is hired by the NHL) is as bad as the Internet service here. The Gaustad-Montador situation the other night. Now the first goal tonight, clearly scored by Gaustad but given to Kennedy. Paul Hamilton of WGR has made this point several times and I can concur: There are more missed scoring calls and scoring changes at HSBC than any arena in the league. It's become laughable here. And they don't even bother to announce scoring changes anymore.because a) there's so many and b). they've got to play their silly blooper films rather than give people game information
9:40 p.m.: Miller robs Alfredsson on a breakaway. The Ottawa captain has been flying tonight. As he often does in this building, where he has 22 career goals.
9:41 p.m.: Unreal. Vanek has a breakaway from his own blueline in, fires a wicked slapshot pass Elliott -- and right off the post. It was an absolute bullet. Gotta wonder if that goes in against another opponent.
9:42 p.m.: There's 8:57 left in the game. Shots are 34-29 for Buffalo.
9:48 pm.: Elliott stops Roy and makes a point-blank stop on the rebound from Stafford. 6:01 left. Shots 37-30.
9:53 p.m.: Elliott stops Montador's riser from the point after nice work down low by Roy-Stafford. 4:14 to go.
9:55 p.m.: Lydman stopped on Buffalo's 40th shot with 3:13 left.
9:56 p.m: WOW. Here's the chance. Too many men on the ice on the Senators with 2:56 left.
9:57: One minute gone on PP, Miller out with 1:56 left.
9:59: Great saves on Pominville and Lydman on the 6-on-4. Then Pominville shanks one and it's deflected by a high stick. Miller back in net with 59 seconds left as faceoff returns to Buffalo zone. Timeout by Sabres.
10:01: Another save on Lydman. icing on Sens. 14.4 seconds left.
10:02: Another icing. 7.1 left
IT'S OVER: Sens hold on to win it 4-2. Alfredsson gets awarded empty-netter at the buzzer as he's hauled down. Shots were 43-31. That's 0-4-1 this year and nine straight losses to the Sens.
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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.
About Sabres Edge
Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, is in his sixth season covering the Buffalo Sabres. 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.
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