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Live from the Arena: Sabres-Flyers Game Six

Welcome to a potential clinching game in HSBC Arena, something we haven't seen since Game Five against the Islanders in 2007. And we haven't seen a Game Six clincher since the Sabres waxed the Flyers here in 2001 with a crazy 8-0 rout. I do not expect that today.

We're waiting for the lineups to be made official but Michael Leighton was the first goalie on the ice for the Flyers and Chris Pronger DID take the warmup. So we'll see. No Derek Roy or Jochen Hecht for the Sabres. Matt Ellis is in for Jason Pominville.

Keep it here well into the evening for all your updates and we should have the lineup decisions from the Flyers in the next couple of minutes.

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

3:10 pm.: Lineups are in and Leighton and Pronger are both in for Philly. Connolly is wearing an A for Buffalo in Pominville's absence.

Sabres starters: Ennis-Niedermayer-Stafford-Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Van Riemsdyk-Richards-Versteeg-Carle-Meszaros. Goal: Leighton. 

3:15 p.m.: The Sabres take the ice to a huge roar from their gold pom-pom waving fans. NBC's Darren Pang snags Nathan Gerbe for the quickie interview at center ice.

Overtime

Of note: "We Can Be Heroes" is one of the tunes played in the intermission here. Good choice. Which Sabre might join Ennis in that category? ... This is the first playoff overtime at HSBC Arena since Daniel Alfredsson won the clinching Game Five of the Eastern Conference final here for Ottawa on May 19, 2007. ... Meszaros has played 28:31 for Philly, Leopold leads Buffalo at 25:05. Stafford is next at 24:09. ... Van Riemsdyk has 10 shots on goal in the game. Wow. Briere has six. Stafford and Coburn have five, while Gerbe and Zherdev have four. ... Sabres have a 41-32 edge in faceoffs. Buffalo also leads by a smidge in hits (22-20) but Flyers have the edge in blocks, 16-15.

6:20 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Where's Van Miller right now? Fasten your seatbelts.

17:51 left: No shots yet.

17:31 left: Gaustad just wide.

17:07 left: Kaleta shot from the wall stopped by Boucher with Gaustad in front looking for a rebound.

15:17 left: Leino with a tap-in. You could feel it coming. FLYERS WIN 5-4.

Third Period

Of note: Vanek and Briere now share the NHL lead for playoff goals with five. Gragnani has seven points, one off the NHL lead, and is tied with Anaheim's Corey Perry for the assist lead with six. ... The Sabres are 2-5 on the PP and the Flyers are 1-4. ... Pronger has played just 3:24 -- all on the power play -- and took a penalty of his own. So he's basically useless. ... Gragnani is leading the Sabres in ice time at 18:01. Stafford is leading forwards at 16:24 as he's gotten 3:54 on the PP and 2:45 on the PK. Meszaros leads the Flyers are 18:34 but he limped off late after taking an Ennis shot to the foot. 

5:29 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Connolly did not return. Imagine he's in the quiet room.

16:38 left: Stafford off the post on a 2-on-1. Great saucer pass by Ennis. Puck was rolling and he struggled to chip it up high and true. Flyer into the net to stop play and Stafford smashes his stick on the glass in disgust.

16:35 left: Boucher snags Gerbe quick wrister off the faceoff.

15:00 left: Boucher with a save on Boyes.

14:50 left: Miller comes back by stopping a Briere slapper and Leopold gets the crowd roaring by wiping out Briere behind the net. Shots are 4-3, Buffalo.

13:00 left: Ennis is skating circles around the Flyers for two games straight. Another great shift ended with a Weber slapper just missing.

12:36 left: Offside on Flyers and the crowd is up waving the pompoms. (And don't tell me how to spell that. NO ONE says "pom-pons")

11:21 left: Butler for holding. Pronger comes back out.

10:09 left: Pronger can only pass. He can't shoot at all. Won't shoot. Had a couple chances.

9:17 left: Hartnell with a tap-in on a Richards pass -- under both Gaustad and Miller just four seconds after the penalty expires. GAME TIED, 4-4. Shots are 42-31 for the Flyers and it's 11-5 in this period. Sabres tried to hold on for 24 minutes. Couldn't do it.

8:22 left: Connolly is listed as a MAY RETURN with an upper-body injury.

3:30 left: Sabres getting outworked badly. Are they out of gas? Shots are 14-5 for Flyers. 

3:26 left: Vanek in alone stopped.

3;15 left: Briere passes on a 2-on-1. Didn't connect.

2:54 left: Offside. Flyers have 11-1 edge in shots in last 12 minutes. Ouch.

1:23 left: Kaleta with 70-footer that Boucher gloves but has to hold for faceoff.

39.5 left: Brutal icing on Flyers. Take another step. 

And we are going to ooovertime: It's 4-4 through 60 minutes. Shots are 45-32 for the Flyers (14-6 in the third period)

Second Period

Of note: The Flyers' power play is 2 for 29 in the series. The Sabres are 6 for 25. Myers had three assists in the first period and Gragnani had two more. Myers played 8:03. He's a beast. Van Riemsdyk has a game-high three shots on goal. By far the Flyers' best player. Has Mike Richards even played in this series? ... AP stats guru Mike Haim reports Vanek's five goals in the series are a first for a Sabre since the immortal Chris Gratton had five against the Flyers in 2001. ... Sabres have an 11-5 edge in the first period in this series.

4:23 p.m: BOUCHER IS IN GOAL FOR THE FLYERS. And the puck is dropped.

13:14 left: Apologies for the disappearance. I had a frozen laptop, not related to Internet issues, and it took a while to get it back. The Sabres' lead was cut to 3-2 on James Van Riemsdyk's snapshot from the slot 49 seconds into the period and the Flyers have been good in this period. Buffalo has a 7-6 edge in shots but Boucher has too much degree of difficulty to deal with ... The Flyers have been so good in the Buffalo zone for spells that Lindy Ruff used his timeout with 16:19 left. Didn't look like he said much. ... Gragnani pulled a puck off the goalline a few seconds earlier that was going in.

So we now should be able to resume our regular programming. Shots are 23-15 for Philly.

12:12 left: Leopold for holding after a scrum. Never event saw an arm in the air. Terrible call. 

11:17 left: And the Flyers' PP finally gets it done. Connnolly played a long time with no stick and Briere blows it by Miller. Game tied, 3-3. 

10:03 left: Boyes high and wide from the slot.

9:09 left: Sabres have an 11-5 bulge in goals in this period. It's 8-1 for the Flyers in the second. Hard to figure that out.

8:08 left: Boucher snags an Ennis shot to hit Carle's leg just before it gets over the line.

7:27 left: Miller makes the save on a 3-on-2. It's the Flyers' 30th shot of the game (Buffalo has 17).

6:54 left: Good shift from Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta results in Versteeg slashing penalty. Vanek PP time.

6:03 left: Richards boarding Connolly from behind. How is that not a major? Two-man for 1:10.

5:18 left: Boucher holding firm on three shots so far. Coburn dumped Vanek well after a whistle. Timeout, Philly.

4:00 left: FLYERS SURVIVE

3:51 left: And just like that , another goaltending mishap. Gerbe with the quick snapper high glove on Boucher, who pounds the ice after he misses it. It was deflected by O'Donnell. Sabres lead, 4-3. It was 12 seconds after the PP ended.

1:58 left: Shots on goal are 30-26 for the Flyers. The Sabres have had the last nine in the game.

END-2ND: Sabres lead, 4-3. Shots were 18-14 for Buffalo and it's 31-26 through two. A wild affair.

First Period

3:21 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

18:39 left: Great shift by Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. Kaleta saves an icing and Gaustad throws his weight around twice. He ends up grappling with Hartnell and body slamming him behind the net. They're both getting two minutes. Could have been five. Crowd loves it.

17:47 left: A 3-on-2 break and Ennis feeds Niedermayer for a wicked snapshot to the top corner. Leighton on his knees. Has to make that save. right under the bar. Sabres lead, 1-0. The place explodes. Niedermayer's first playoff goal since 2007 with Anaheim. The guy was a dog during the season but great in this series. His 18th career playoff goal, first since the '07 final vs. Ottawa.

16:52 left: Miller stops a Coburn deflection, Coburn's second good chance of the game. Shots are 5-2 for Philly. 

14:00 left: Pronger has not been on the ice yet. They dressed seven D in the game. He must be there for moral support.

12:30 left: Shots are 7-2 for the Flyers but it's not like they've had any real control of things. Sabres have been buzzing in the Philly zone but mostly kept outside. You get the feeling another goal on Leighton might really open the floodgates (or bring in Boucher).

12:10 left: Carcillo for cross checking. Not the most intelligent play in the world, coming in the offensive zone against McCormick.

11:19 left: And the penalty kills the Flyers as Myers puts one toward the net and Vanek reaches behind and deflects it off Andrej Meszaros' leg and in. Sabres lead, 2-0. Two goals on four shots. Vanek's fourth of the series, three on the PP. Another assist for Gragnani.

9:55 left: Gerbe for holding. Let's see if Pronger comes out. Shots are 10-4 for Philly. Pronger skating around limbering his legs. Looks like he's going to be a PP-only guy today. Gerbe has to think better than that. Don't get engaged with anyone and grab a stick when your team has all the momentum.

9:22 left: Briere-like boos first time Pronger touches the puck.

7:15 left: Solid job on the PK. Flyers had virtually no zone time at all. Shots are 12-4 for Philly but Miller is sharp again. The crowd up here by us is chanting, "Who's Your Goalie?" Reminds me of Yankee Stadium's "Who's Your Daddy" at Pedro Martinez. Solid creativity there.

6:39 left: Briere trips Kaleta well after the whistle in the Buffalo crease. Kaleta chirps at him on the way to the bench.

5:35 left: Leighton robs Montador from the slot and Montador misses the backhand rebound with much of the net. That would have been just about it for the Flyers and Leighton you'd think.

5:07 left: It was inevitable. Flyers have been better last few minutes. Briere gets open alone in front and flips one past Miller. Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 14-5 for Philly.

3:47 left: Connolly for cross checking. Flyers 2 for 27 on the PP in the series and desperately need one here.

2:22 left: Butler for delay over the glass. Big mistake. Another two-manner for the Flyers for 36 seconds. 

1:58 left: Pronger for slashing in front of the net as Myers battled him and dropped him after the slash. 

1:46 left: Meszaros for high sticking against Gragnani. So much for that Philly power play. Now it's 4-on-3 for Buffalo.

33.0 left: Vanek with an absolutely ridiculous circus goal on the PP. Pulls the puck behind him, through the legs, through Leighton's legs. Sabres lead, 3-1. Leighton has to stop that one too. Flyers have to go to Boucher for 2nd period, right? 

End-1st: Sabres lead 3-1. Leighton skates off with mask atop his head, no chance of seeing the ice again. Shots were 17-8 Philly. This series is all about power plays and goaltending. Buffalo is absolutely killing the Flyers in both.

Optional Skate @ HSBC

The Sabres conducted a short optional skate at HSBC Arena this morning. Their three goaltenders and eight skaters participated: Paul Gaustad, Nathan Gerbe, Steve Montador, Jordan Leopold, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Cody McCormick, Mike Weber and Derek Roy. The team is scheduled to fly out of Buffalo early this afternoon.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Roy Getting Close?

Derek Roy participated in Thursday's optional skate at HSBC Arena and, if you read between the lines, there's a chance he still could appear in this series with the Flyers.

""We're just working on the power, just trying to get power back in the leg, and trying to get my first quick steps in,"" Roy said. ""I think that's the hardest part, coming out of turns and fighting off opponents and whatnot so I'm going to have to work on that.""

His limitations?

"No hitting yet," Roy said. "Doc's orders. Until four months.""

When will it be four months since Roy underwent knee surgery?

Saturday.

-- Bob DiCesare

Video: Game Four Postgame Interviews

Watch the postgame comments from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, goalie Ryan Miller and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette:

Lindy Ruff

Ryan Miller

Peter Laviolette

Videos by John Hickey / Buffalo News

Live from the Arena: Sabres-Flyers Game Four

Greetings again from HSBC Arena as we get set for Game Four, which will actually face off in the 7:40 range (raspberries and other noises from the press box in the direction of TSN for that one). I'm still trying to thaw out from the walk over here from One News Plaza a couple of hours ago through a biting wind that made it feel like January. I'm thinking the folks in the Party on the Plaza here at the arena should be inside at a watering hole somewhere? Why would you stand outside in this?

What happened to spring in this town anyway? That's one of the joys of playoff hockey, isn't it? The folks from Philly are snickering because the high temperature was 80 there today. Granted, it's supposed to be 53 range for Game Five on Friday but what we've had here has been ridiculous with the rain, wind, thunderstorms and Monday's snow.

The Bisons were supposed to be having Kids Week with ice cream giveaways all week. Yeah, right. Banged again today after playing two yesterday in 30-degree weather.

So maybe through all this we can agree it's hockey weather after all. By this point in the series, it's hard to have anything insightful to say. One thing that stick out to me is that the Sabres have to find more offense -- actually any offense -- from their top forwards.

They have seven goals in the series, with one each from the likes of Cody McCormick, Patrick Kaleta, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera. Thomas Vanek has two, both on the power play, and is minus-4. Drew Stafford has the other. Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes and Tim Connolly have yet to score, with Connolly's goalless streak in the playoffs at 26 games. Paul Gaustad hasn't scored either but that's nothing new -- 0 goals in 34 career playoff games. As well as he's playing, I'm not thinking the Sabres are long for these playoffs if Marc-Andre Gragnani continues to be their leading scorers.

The Flyers, meanwhile, continue to try to get through this series without Chris Pronger and take another huge step in that regard tonight. They were brutally mediocre (9-9-7) over the last 25 games but they're finding their stride. Bad news for the Sabres.

Be sure to check out the archive of tonight's pregame chat by going to this link. And if you missed the chat, be sure to join us Friday night at 6:30 for 30 minutes prior to Game Five.

Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford? (Hmmm). Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Betts-Powe-O'Donnell-Meszaros. Goal: Boucher. 

Game on.

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

Third Period

Of note: First off, the Caps have scored three goals in the first 12 1/2 minutes of the third to wipe out their 3-0 deficit and tie the Rangers, 3-3. Wow. ... Back here, Van Riemsdyk leads all players with six shots on goal and has been great again. Best player in the series by a lot. ... Pominville leads Buffalo with three shots. Connolly leads the forwards with 12:26 and that's a joke because he has been terrible most of the night. ... Butler has played a game-high 17:42. Flyers have 14 blocked shots. Sabres have a 20-15 lead in hits and faceoffs are split, 19-19.

9:32 p.m: The puck is dropped.

17:51 left: PP lousy so far. Puck knocked out of zone three times, Butler offside another. One shot. Connolly also passed up a wide-open one from 10 feet. That's why he never scores in the playoffs.

15:00 left: Lots of boos. The Flyers knocked the puck out of the zone 13 times - 13! -- after Buffalo got it in. Sabres had just two shots on the five-minute penalty, Flyers one. Richards was literally jumping up and down in the box as the clock expired. Now, it's five minutes less off the clock but you could have grabbed this game by the throat too. And you would think the Flyers have some momentum now. The crowd is quiet.

13:25 left: Sloppy, sloppy. Icing on Buffalo. 

12:04 left: Caps-Rangers going to overtime. Incredible. Bergenheim goal with 3:17 left pulls Lightning into 2-2 tie with Pens after they were down, 2-0. Crazy night so far.

10:00 left: Sabres holding on. Shots are 4-3 for Buffalo.

9:37 left: Miller with the save on Versteeg from the slot.

8:50 left: Save of the SERIES: Miller stones Briere all alone in front with two dekes, snaring it with the glove. The crowd is wild now. Who made that horrible giveaway at the line? Gaustad? That puck has GOT to get out of the zone there. No excuse.

6:29 left: Shots are 6-4 for Flyers.

5:37 left: Boucher stops Pominville slapper and Ennis just misses rebound.

5:21 left: Ennis stopped on breakaway by Boucher. 

5:03 left: Another SENSATIONAL STOP by Miller. Diving to his right on a rebound to rob Richards. We got "Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler, Ry-an Mil-ler" chants going. Wow.

4:01 left: Kaleta wipes out a great Vanek chance alone in front by wiping out in the crease and knocking the net off. Untouched. 

3:00 left: Flyers nearly had too many men on the ice. Faceoff in Philly zone.

1:20 left: Boucher out.

1:12 left: Faceoff in Buffalo zone. Timeout, Flyers.

30.8 left: Miller survives scramble and spikes puck out of the crowd of players. Crowd chanting his name again. Faceoff to Miller's right. They're checking the clock. We think it ran. They're putting it back to 32.6.

18: Gaustad post on empty net

OVER: ANOTHER 1-0 WIN SERIES TIED. BIG SCRUM.

Second Period

8:37 p.m. The puck is dropped. Myers has returned. But Carter has NOT.

18:19 left: Niedermayer stopped from right in front. Overpassing from Gragnani. Should have shot. Then niedermayer overhandled.

17:13 left: Good stop by Miller on Carcillo on a 3-on-2. Tough time for Weber at the Flyers' line and into the Buffalo zone.

16:11 left: Carter has a right knee injury. But the Flyers say he might return. They said lower body but it's pretty clear on replay what happened when he collided with Myers.

15:11 left: How about the Rangers leading the Caps, 3-0, at MSG? Pressure building on No. 1 seeded Washington again.

14:50 left: Miller stands up for a good stop on Hartnell. Sabres still treating the puck like a hot potato too much. One press box wag said hand grenade to me during the intermission. They're definitely jittery with it. Miller has been strong so far.

13:30 left: McCormick and Grier on a 2-on-1. That took forever. Shot wide.

10:52 left: Pominville slapper stopped. Shots are 17-15, Buffalo. Some good work by the Sabres in transition and I was really impressed with the backchecking on Vanek a couple shifts ago as he came back into the Buffalo zone and stole the puck. Key play. Never shows up in any stat column but you have to have them.

9:11 left: We're just past the halfway mark. Shots are 5-5 in this period and 18-16 for Buffalo.

8:21 left: Powe off the post after a sequence where Connolly got beat twice. Then Miller clubbed Carcillo in the crease and got help from Weber. Carcillo and Miller get roughing. Gerbe serves Miller. Weber got nothing and Laviolette isn't happy. He's getting an audience with the officials.

6:28 left: Miller stands up to stop Coburn. Flyers have 21-18 edge in shots and getting better of the play again.  Miller has been strong in his crease tonight and not flopping too much. Good to see.

6:13 left: Great stop by Boucher on Myers. Gerbe just fails to handle rebound.

5:41 left: Myers for elbowing. Flyers to the PP. They're 0-2 in this one and 2-20 in the series.

3:00 left: Sabres survive the power play. Another terrible weak play with the puck by Connolly gave the Flyers another 30 seconds of zone time.

2:14 left: Flyers nailed for too many men on the ice as they were breaking into the zone. And Gaustad-Montador alertly get Kaleta away from Carcillo, who was chirping at him trying to lure him into an even-up deal.

2:03 left: Two goals in 57-second span early in the third by Caps at MSG. Rangers' lead cut to 3-2.

2.8 seconds left: WOW. Kaleta tries to hit Richards near the bench but Richards puts up the elbow and drills him in the face. FIVE-MINUTE MAJOR. 

End-2nd: Sabres hold the 1-0 lead. Shots were 10-8 for Philly and it's 21-21 through two. Sabres will have 4:58 left on their power play. Huge chance.

First Period

7:40 p.m. The puck is dropped. By the way, Doug Allen did not stand on the Sabres logo mat at center ice while singing the anthem. Tara Minogue did the other night, just for the record. Hmmmm. Wonder if the players are gonna fine her 20 bucks? 

16:00 left: Big, physical start by the Sabres. Gerbe nailed Betts, Kaleta drilled van Riemsdyk and Grier on Versteeg. And the lines are downright goofy. They rolled Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford, Vanek-Gaustad-Kaleta, Ennis-Niedermayer-Pominville, McCormick-Boyes-Grier.

14:05 left: Weber for tripping along the boards in the Buffalo zone. Just inside the blueline. Ticky-tack. Zherdev took a nice dive to accentuate the stick. Remember when someone asked in the chat about the officiating and I said I was OK with it? Not there.

12:00 left: Sabres survive as Butler makes a great save on Leino in the crease with Miller out of position.

11:27 left: Flyers got no shots on the PP. It's 4-1 for Buffalo through 8 1/2 minutes.

10:22 left: The Sabres make the breakthough and it's from a top-six forward. Badly needed. Great work from behind the net by Ennis and great veteran patience from Niedermayer to hold the puck and slide it over to Pominville for a tap-in at the edge of the crease. Sabres lead, 1-0 and the "Boo-chay" chants are out. 

10:00 left: Grier and Boyes stopped from in tight.

9:42 left: Carcillo goes for goalie interference even though he landed right on his butt. Gotta see the replay on that one. Sabres to the power play.

9:01 left: Stafford for interference at center ice as Versteeg tries to get away. Total ticky-tack. Lindy was furious over that one.

7:18 left: Van Riemsdyk with a wide-open net -- but a sliding toe of Myers' got the puck and it went over th net. Sabres were in trouble on a 3-on-1 but Butler broke that up.

7:00 left: Sabres and the crowd upset as Miller gets sticked in the mask by Versteeg. Except it wasn't. Weber got him.

5:47 left: Shots are 7-6 for Buffalo. Flyers have been in control since Carcillo got out of the box.

5:37 left: Boucher for tripping Grier. Comes two seconds after a Myers snapshot from the slot beats Boucher -- but cranks off the post.

4:18 left: Versteeg gets a backhander on Miller. Save. Walked right around Connolly, who was lolly-gagging after the puck at the Buffalo line.

3:58 left: Boyes off the post on his own rebound. Sabres have had chances for the 2-0 lead. Big chances. Haven't converted.

3:00 left: Save on Niedermayer, who has been terrific again, as he cut down through the left circle. Shots are 10-8, Buffalo. Niedermayer spent 50 games doing absolutely nothing and has been very good for more than a month.

2:12 left: Myers down in front of the net. Got drilled high in a collision by Carter, right in the jaw. Last thing Sabres need is another D-man out. Bet Myers is headed to the quiet room.

End-1st: Sabres survive with their 1-0 lead. Shots are 13-11 for Buffalo. Flyers much better last couple minutes. Leopold has been pretty brutal with the puck and keeps getting beat. Looks nowhere near 100 percent.

While you slept, Sharks reverse Kings' famous '82 miracle with huge comeback win

The Miracle on Manchester is widely viewed as the greatest comeback in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It came in 1982 at the old Inglewood Forum (which was on Manchester Avenue) as the Los Angeles Kings wiped out a 5-0 third-period deficit against the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers and won Game Three of their playoff series in overtime, 6-5.

Here's a great video retrospective of that one:

We had a modern-day miracle take place late last night and, 29 years later, karma from the hockey gods went against the Kings in a Game Three at home. Now playing downtown at the Staples Center, the Kings blew a 4-0 lead in the second period and lost to the San Jose Sharks, 6-5, on Devin Setoguchi's goal at 3:09 of overtime.

It was just the fourth time in NHL history a team won a playoff game trailing by at least four goals and the first time since the Minnesota North Stars pulled the feat in 1985 against Chicago.

Oddly enough, Setoguchi said he saw the NHL's "History Will Be Made" commercial about the 1982 game on the locker room TV. Then the Sharks pulled off their own stunner. (You can see the commercial at this link).

The Sharks lost Game Two, 4-0, and gave up the first four goals in this one. They looked cooked. But they roared back after making a goalie change to Antero Nittymaki. The Kings, meanwhile, have to find a way to overcome the nightmare.

Here's NHL.com's full highlight package on the game. Great stuff.

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

Party in the Plaza returns for home games

The Party in the Plaza is back for the playoffs and the Sabres are expanding the parties by adding a second video screen to accommodate more fans.

Pre-game festivities will begin at 5 p.m. for Games Three and Four, which will be on April 18 and 20. The parties take place in the plaza near Perry and Illinois Streets and will feature live music from Lance Diamond until 30 minutes before puck drop.

"Terry, Kim and I continue to be blown away by the extraordinary support of the Sabres Nation," said Sabres President Ted Black, referring to owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim. "The concept of hosting an outdoor playoff party originated in Buffalo and over the years has been copied in other NHL cities. We want to take it to another level by providing two outdoor screens so that as many fans as possible can experience ‘Hockey Heaven’ firsthand."

The parties are free and game tickets are not required. At game time, MSG’s feed will be shown on two 9x12-foot video screens. Food, beverages and merchandise will be available for purchase before and during the game and there will also be special guest appearances from several Sabres personalities.

The party for Game Six, if necessary, will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Apr. 24 for the 3 p.m. game.

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

Sekera, Connolly back; Pronger skates on his own

The Sabres have just opened practice in HSBC Arena and Tim Connolly and Andrej Sekera are both on the ice. Connolly was expected after yesterday's extra day off. But Sekera was quite a bit more iffy. So that's a good sign. More after practice.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Chris Pronger skated today before the Flyers' practice and not with the team. So it's not looking good for him to be on the ice for Game One.

The Sabres' current lines are: Vanek-Connolly-Pominville, Boyes-Ennis-Stafford, Mancari-Gaustad-Gerbe, Ellis-Niedermayer-McCormick. Roy-Kaleta-Grier are skating as extras.

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

Stat package: Playoff matchups

Curious about how the first-round playoff matchups have gone over the years about now?

The Sabres are actually not in a bad spot. The second seed has only won 17 of 32 playoff series since the current format was adopted since 1994. That's pretty close to a toss-up.

Here's how all of the first-round series have gone in that span:

1 vs. 8 – Team 1 has won 23 of 32 (.719)
2 vs. 7 – Team 2 has won 17 of 32 (.531)
3 vs. 6 – Team 3 has won 20 of 32 (.625)
4 vs. 5 – Team 4 has won 22 of 32 (.688)

If you are curious about how conference opponents did by seed in later rounds, the complete chart is here.

--- Budd Bailey

'May Day' gets its day in NHL ad campaign

There's a new "History Will Be Made" ad debuting tomorrow on NHL.com and the NHL Network as we get set to head into the playoffs. And it's a time-tested classic in these parts. Check it out here, courtesy of the league's entertainment department.

Audio: Terry Pegula meets The News' Editorial Board

Sabres owner Terry Pegula and team President Ted Black met with editors, reporters and other Buffalo News staffers for an editorial board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Listen to the full meeting here (42m49s):

Here's a part of the discussion about head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Darcy Regier (7m55s):

The conversation included questions about Pegula's wealth and what it means for the team (11m10s):

Here's Pegula talking about what made him make the move to buy the Sabres (1m54s):

Those participating in the meeting included News President Warren T. Colville, Editor and Vice President Margaret Sullivan, Assistant Managing Editor Elizabeth Kahn, Sports Editor Steve Jones, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kevin Walter, editorial writer Dawn Bracely and the sports department's Jerry Sullivan, Bucky Gleason, Mike Harrington and John Vogl.

News reporter and columnist Denise Jewell Gee recorded audio and video at the meeting.

Ice chips, pre-practice style

Clearing the notebook now that the World Juniors are out of town and we can return to the NHL schedule:

---The Sabres return to practice today in HSBC Arena in the midst of a 4-0-1 run that has them back to .500 at halfway mark of the season (18-18-5). They're 10th in the East, eight points behind Boston and Montreal.

---The Penguins have one goal in two games without Sidney Crosby. And it's likely he'll be out a few more games as well so they have to figure out where to get some offense. They host the Bruins tonight on Versus.

---Things are no better for the Bruins with David Krejci underperforming, Milan Lucic slumping, and Marc Savard a shade of his former self. 

---Have you checked the Western Conference standing lately? Four points separate No. 4 Nashville from No. 12 St. Louis (From 4-12 in the East is an 18-point difference!). The defending champion Blackhawks have climbed from 12th to sixth just by winning the last two games. They beat the Islanders, 5-0, on Sunday and announced before the game that they'll put up statues for ex-Chicago greats Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull outside the United Center. Move over, Michael Jordan.

---Things are really bad in San Jose, where the Sharks were shut out again Sunday by the Ducks and have dropped to 11th place in the West. They've lost four straight games and have been shut out twice in the last three (by Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller). Worse yet, they have just five goals in their last five games.

---In a last farewell to the World Juniors, the ratings for Wednesday's Canada-Russia final were astonishing north of the border. A record audience of 6.88 million viewers watched on TSN and its French counterpart, RDS. The audience peaked at 9.3 million viewers during the third period. The 6.23 million who watched on TSN marked the highest audience ever for the network, Canada's equivalent of ESPN.

If you missed any of our World Juniors coverage, be sure to check out our special section on this site.

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

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

It's No Goal night on NHL Network

I've been loving this "Raising the Cup" marathon every night on NHL Network for the last couple of weeks. Each night at 8, the network is showing a repeat broadcast of the clinching game of the Stanley Cup finals. This week, we've been on 1995-99. So what does that mean? 

Yep, brace yourself. Tonight at 8 will be Game Six of the 1999 finals. Stars vs. Sabres from then-Marine Midland Arena.

No idea which broadcast it will be, although most of them have been the CBC feed. Whoever is on the mic, it will be worth DVRing and not just for the Brett Hull moment at 1:40 in the morning. I'll want to relive all three of those overtimes. 

Remember that defenseman and current assistant James Patrick clanged one off the crossbar in the second OT? Or that it was a 1-1 game with Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour locked in quite a duel? Goals were by Jere Lehtinen in the first period (terrible goal given up by Hasek) and Stu Barnes in the second. Tight, tight affair. Crazy night.

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

NHL arbitration calendar set

The NHL Players Association has released the schedule of arbitration hearings and the Sabres will be at the table on July 27 with Tim Kennedy and July 29 with Patrick Kaleta. Kennedy made $635,000 last season and produced 10 goals and 16 assists in 78 games over his first NHL campaign. Kaleta made $522,000 and had 10 goals, five assists but only played 55 games due to injuries.

The Sabres took Kaleta to arbitration, the only team in the league to do so with one of their players. It's reasonable to think both players could end up in the $1 million range when their hearings are complete. 

The July 29 date will be watched around the league because that will be goaltender Antti Niemi's hearing with the Chicago Blackhawks. He made $827,000 last year and one can only imagine what he might get now after winning the Stanley Cup, which would further drive the Hawks into salary cap jail. 

Boston's Blake Wheeler is on the docket for July 27 while Washington's Tomas Fleischmann has his case heard July 28. Former Sabre Clarke MacArthur goes to the table with Atlanta on July 21. 

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

Campbell's day with Cup coming soon; Toews takes it home to Winnipeg

Ex-Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell will get his day at home with the Stanley Cup on July 23, according to this story in his hometown newspaper, the Strathroy (Ont.) Age Dispatch. No word yet on Patrick Kane's appearance in Buffalo.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had his big day Sunday in his native Winnipeg and it was a busy one as the Tribune reports.  Had a lake and a community center named after him, rode through town in a parade and got the key to the city. (Memo to Buffalo: This is how it's done. Keys are given to natives who actually do something or to important visitors, not to has-been football players pimping for reality television). Toews also made his first public comments about all the changes the Hawks have been forced to make since winning the Cup.

Like it has in past seasons, the Hockey Hall of Fame is keeping a running Stanley Cup Journal of the Cup's summer travels. 

Here's a Winnipeg Free Press video of some highlights from Toews' day. Press play on the bottom left of the window

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

Stars say no to Modano

Mike Modano may not have his mind officially made up on retirement but his decision might have gotten a little easier when the Dallas Stars announced today they will not offer him a contract for next season. 

Modano is a lock Hall of Famer as the all-time American-born leader in goals (557) and points (1,359). He's the Stars' franchise leader in several statistical categories, including games (1,479), goals, assists (802) and points. After 21 seasons, Modano is the team's last link to its days in Minnesota and he joins Jere Lehtinen are the only links to the 1999 Dallas team that won the No Goal Stanley Cup over the Sabres.

GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he wants Modano to join the team in a front-office role -- whenever his career is over -- but Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News he understands the 40-year-old may take a Ray Bourque-like stab at another Stanley Cup with another team. Modano made $2.25 million last season, collecting 14 goals and 16 assists in 59 games.

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

After Cup win comes Hawks' cap trouble

Getting quite a kick about reading all this Blackhawks dynasty talk. Of course, they're going to be a strong team again next season. But I'm not holding my breath thinking about the chances of another Patrick Kane-like moment (click below for the WGN Radio audio of the awkward Cup-winning goal).

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Patrick Kane's winning goal
 

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The Hawks are in serious salary cap trouble and now comes this fascinating Toronto Globe & Mail piece that indicates they could actually be dealing with a penalty cap of around $4 million next year -- spending around $54 milllion when the league cap will be in the $58 million range. That's the way the CBA deals with a team that goes over, which the Hawks did because of all the bonuses they paid, including $1.3 million to Jonathan Toews for his Conn Smythe Trophy.

A key player or two or three will have to go off this roster. Now one obviously will be overpaid (and now backup) goalie Cristobal Huet, who may end up in the minors. But there could be others available. It will be an interesting summer in Chicago, and not just because of where the players are taking the Cup.

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

(Audio from WGNradio.com)

The Stanley Cup chase begins today

Take the poll: who is your favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2011?

  • Chicago
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Kane scores Stanley Cup winner in OT

PHILADELPHIA -- After the morning workout in preparation for Game Six, Patrick Kane talked about how he would play hockey in his basement in South Buffalo and imagine himself scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final, all while doing his best impersonation of Rick Jeanneret.

"All the time," he said.

Talk about living the dream.

Kane scored 4:06 into overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Flyers and their first Stanley Cup since the 1960-61 season when he beat Michael Leighton with a wrist shot from a bad angle. The 21-year-old was the first to see the puck crossed the goal line, and he immediately threw his gloves into the air and raced to his teammates. He also forever earned his a place in Chicago sports folklore.

"I can't believe this just happened," Kane said. "It's something you dream of as a kid. To score the winning  goal in the Stanley Cup Finals, it was just unbelievable."

It capped an incredible year for Kane, who had more emotional highs and lows that he could count. He was arrested last August after a dispute with a Buffalo cab driver. He earned a silver medal for the United States in the Olympics. He led his team in scoring with 30 goals and 88 points, both career highs. And now he realized a boyhood dream that he has since he was a kid in South Buffalo.

He was asked about the year during his post-game news conference.

"It didn't start off very good back in August," he said. "But sometimes you go through those kinds things as a young kid. You really learn from them and try to better yourself as a person and as an athlete. Hockey-wise, I can be pretty satisfied. I thought I had a pretty good year."

I would say so. Kane joined Kevyn Adams, Todd Marchant and Brooks Orpik as players who were either born or raised in Western New York to win a Cup in the past five years. Kane expects to bring the Cup back to Buffalo sometime this summer. Several family members and friends made the drive down to Philly to see him win it all.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, who was raised in Williamsville and graduated from Canisius, also wins his first Cup. His father, who is a senior advisor, has now been involved with 11 Cup winners, including 10 as a coach. Sweet Home High grad Pete Hassen also is a member of the 'Hawks organization in the marketing and community relations department.

"It's pretty crazy," Kane said. "You envision this and hope for the best when you first come in. It's obviously been an unbelievable year. It's very exciting and fun to be a part of right now. Crazy game tonight. Just an unbelievable result."

--- Bucky Gleason

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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 | [email protected]

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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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