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The 'own goal': Lightning's Stamkos isn't alone with his goof

By Mike Harrington

Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos gave the Sabres a lead Saturday night with a rare "own goal" -- sending the puck 180 feet into his own empty net during a delayed penalty. Oddly enough, the call was on Buffalo's Cory Conacher, who got credit for the goal as the last Sabre to touch the puck.

The Sabres weren't able to fully take advantage of the break, as Stamkos got his revenge by scoring in overtime to give Tampa a 4-3 win. But it certainly had folks in First Niagara Center going through their minds recalling similar plays.

Patrick Kane did it this year in Chicago, handing a goal to the Edmonton Oilers on a similar delayed penalty situation.

And the Leafs handed one to the Sabres in the last minute of a game in 2004, with the goalie pulled in the final minute trying to get the tying goal. And this one got credited to Sabres goalie Mika Noronen, still the only time a Buffalo goaltender has been credited with a goal.

Interesting to note that at 30 seconds of the video below, Adam Mair is clearly yelling from the bench to grab the puck, as he recognized Noronen was the last player to touch the puck.

Stamkos joked after the game that it was an "uncharacteristic hat trick" Easy to joke about it when you consider he has 23 goals in 29 games this season (he missed 45 due to a broken leg).

Click below to hear postgame audio from Conacher and Stamkos on the play

Cory Conacher

Steven Stamkos

Numerology on tonight's visit by red-hot Lightning

By Mike Harrington

I'll resist the urge to give you 39 things about tonight's Sabres-Lightning game, which will be preceded by the Sabres Hall of Fame ceremony to induct Dominik Hasek.

---Former Ch. 7 legend Rick Azar will be at the Sabres Store from 5-7 p.m. signing copies of his new book, "Tales from Azar's Attic." The Hasek ceremony kicks off at 6:50. So for all of you constantly rushing the gates at 7 or maybe even strolling in at 7:15, get there early for once!

(I have no clue why we always have such late-arriving crowds in First Niagara Center. This isn't LA, folks. People like their pregame beers in other places too).

---The Lightning and Bruins are the only teams in the NHL to get points in each of their last 10 games. Tampa enters tonight 6-0-4 in the last 10 while the Sabres, of course, are 1-9 in the last 10. They have also dropped 10 of their last 11 since their 3-1 win over the Lightning on March 6 in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa's 10-game run is their most since an 18-game unbeaten streak in 2003-04.

---The Lightning have 37 goals in the last 10 games -- but have given up 32. In the last 11 games, the Sabres have been outscored, 34-12

---The Lightning appears pretty much locked into a first-round playoff matchup with Montreal, as the 2-3 teams in each division will meet under the new postseason format. Detroit and Toronto are both nine points back of Tampa Bay heading into their huge wild-card showdown tonight in Air Canada Centre.

Continue reading "Numerology on tonight's visit by red-hot Lightning" »

A huge night for Lightning as Stamkos returns, Callahan debuts

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm looking forward to tonight's game in the Tampa Bay Times Forum because I'm expecting a huge buzz in the building. After being out 45 games, Steven Stamkos is back. And Ryan Callahan is making his debut.

There was a playoff-level sized media horde in the building this morning for the team's morning skate and coach Jon Cooper knew something was up when he entered the room for his media briefing and saw it packed.

"It's different for sure," Cooper said. "There are so many little side stories tonight."

The return of Stamkos from his broken leg is a big one. Cooper cracked "fourth-line center" when asked how Stamkos would be used tonight. Stamkos, for his part, is happy to be on the ice and to have a resolution of the Marty St. Louis drama.

"Now that all this is over, we can kind of breathe a sigh of relief," Stamkos said. "Marty's gone, the trade deadline is over, I'm coming back. This is our group. That was the message today. We have 20 games left. No matter what happens, these are the guys we're going to go to battle with every day."

Callahan said he was surprised he couldn't get a deal done with the Rangers.

"I thought a deal was going to get done to be honest with you," Callahan said. "I thought at the end of the day both parties couldn't agree on something that worked for both of us. That' s part of the business. They felt they needed to move on so it's time for ne to move on and start a new chapter."

"My major message to him was jus, 'Don't come in here and think you have to be Marty St. Louis,' " Cooper said. "... " 'That's not what you're here for. We expect you to play as hard as you did for the Rangers.' If he gives us that type of effort, he's a home run for us."

You can listen to my audio of Callahan's interview today by clicking below

Ryan Callahan

NHL scoring leader Stamkos stretchered off ice after serious leg injury in Boston, will have surgery Tuesday on broken tibia

By Mike Harrington

The surprising season of the Tampa Bay Lightning now seems to be hanging in the balance after star center Steven Stamkos suffered what clearly looks to be a serious leg injury during today's Veterans Day matinee in Boston.

(6 p.m. update: The Lightning have confirmed Stamkos has suffered a broken right tibia and have announced he will have surgery Tuesday. TSN says the surgery could be season-ending but the team has announced no timetable). 

While backchecking in his own zone, Stamkos was ridden into the goalpoast of the Tampa net and his right leg appeared to whip around the post in an ugly contortion. He tried to get up on the leg but collapsed in pain and started to pound the ice with his hand in agony as trainers and a Bruins team doctor attended to him.

Stamkos was removed from the ice via stretcher and has been taken to a Boston hospital for X-rays and treatment. Tampa Bay entered today's game atop the Eastern Conference standing at 12-4 and Stamkos was tied for the lead in both goals (14) and scoring (23 points). His 199 goals since the start of the 2009-10 season are 34 more than any other player in the league, so obviously no more needs to be written about what a huge loss this would be for the Lightning.

And it would be a huge loss for Team Canada as well, since Stamkos was expected to be one of its top centers for its run at defending its Olympic gold medal in Sochi in February.

Here's the video of the play and the aftermath, with descriptions by Lightning voices Rick Peckham and Bobby Taylor:

Laviolette staying in Philly but Tambellini out as GM in Edmonton

By Mike Harrington

The Flyers looked like Dead Team Skating when they were here Saturday afternoon and I know I wasn't the only one thinking Lindy Ruff might have a chance at a small measure of revenge against Peter Laviolette for 2006 by taking his job behind the Flyers' bench next season.

From the sounds of things coming out of Montreal today, it looks like that's not going to happen.

As reported by Sam Carchidi in the Philadelphia Inquirer, General Manager Paul Holmgren said today that injuries are at the root of the Flyers' evils and "I haven’t even thought along those lines" when asked directly if he was considering a coaching change.

Continue reading "Laviolette staying in Philly but Tambellini out as GM in Edmonton" »

Big changes for Lightning, no changes for Sabres; Yzerman calls Lindy after tabbing Cooper

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- No changes for the Sabres tonight as Ryan Miller will be in goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Andrej Sekera (injured) and the tandem of John Scott and Drew Stafford (healthy) will be the scratches. Interim coach Ron Rolston said Sekera could play Thursday at Florida.

Big changes, of course, with Tampa as AHL coach Jon Cooper has been hired to replace Guy Boucher but will make his debut Friday night. Assistants will run the Lightning again tonight as they did Sunday in Winnipeg.

Tampa GM Steve Yzerman met with the media today to discuss the coaching change but didn't give a whole lot of clarity into the situation when I asked him about the possibility of hiring Lindy Ruff.

Continue reading "Big changes for Lightning, no changes for Sabres; Yzerman calls Lindy after tabbing Cooper" »

Sabres' offense needs to break out of slump to keep pace with Lightning's ability to strike

By John Vogl

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay averages nearly four goals per game. The Sabres have totaled two goals in their last three games.

Obviously, Buffalo needs to pick up the pace to have any chance against the Lightning.

Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 69 goals in 18 games, an average of 3.8 per outing. The Lightning have scored 33 goals in third periods. Buffalo, by contrast, has 47 goals all year.

"They’re a team that gets up and down real quick," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said after the morning skate in Tampa Bay Times Forum. "Both offensively and defensively we’re going to have to play faster."

The Sabres' offense could get a boost if the power play wakes up. Buffalo is in a 2-for-46 drought. Tampa's penalty killers rank tied for 12th with a 82.8 percent success rate.

"For us, I think it’s more of a confidence thing both on the power play now and five-on-five to generate offense," Rolston said. "I think we’re getting some quality looks and some chances, and now it’s just finishing, not squeezing our stick."

The Sabres will scratch defenseman T.J. Brennan and forward John Scott. Ryan Miller will start in goal against Tampa's Mathieu Garon.

Ron Rolston

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 |

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 |

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 |