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Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Wings

7:12 p.m. - Brrr. It's a little cold in the First Niagara Center, but I have plenty of faith that the Bandits and Wings will warm things up tonight.

I can't recall if the Bandits ever played games back-to-back on a Thursday and Friday before. We'll see if it agrees with them. Buffalo is off to a good start. The Bandits rallied to defeat the Toronto Rock last night. That was an important win, as it prevented Toronto from running off and hiding from the rest of the East. Now we have a race for the top, and the Bandits could move into a tie for first with a win.

We'll have the scratches in a few minutes.

Should be a good one, as Philadelphia is right in the thick of the East race after a pair or wins last week. The Wings are 4-3 going into the contest.

7:16 p.m. - As advertised, the lineups have arrived, Mike McNamara, Nick Cotter and Carter Bender will be sitting tonight.  That means John Tavares will play tonight, as will Jon Harasym and Mike Hominuck.

Anthony Cosmo gets the start in goal for Buffalo. Brandon Miller will be his counterpart for the Wings. I believe they are the last two goaltenders of the week as picked by the league.

7:22 p.m. - You might have noticed in today's story of last night's game that I said the Bandits hadn't outscored an opponent by five goals in a quarter since 2009. I've started to keep track of a few things like that on my Bandits' history website so that I'll be able to access them quickly. You're invited to take a look through this link. I'll be adding to that site as matters come up. I've discovered that the scoresheets aren't available since 2005 or so, but even that is useful to have.

7:26 p.m. - The game is on YouTube. You can find the link through nll.com.

7:34 p.m. - We're ready to go. This is the third meeting between the teams, and they split the first two games. So if there's a tie between them at the end of the season, this game determines who is higher in the standings. That could be meaningful in terms of home-field advantage somewhere down the line.

7:45 p.m. - Bandits couldn't have asked for a better start. They have a 2-0 lead (Williams and Wiles). Heck, Steve Priolo even drew a penalty on a rare thrust to the net, and Wiles capitalized on the power play nine seconds later.

7:50 p.m. - My News coworker Mike Harrington hates the blooper reel shown during break. Mike, they do it here too.

7:54 p.m. - Anthony Cosmo has been nearly perfect so far, and his defense is giving him good looks at shots.

7:57 p.m. - It's 2-1 Buffalo after a period. Philadelphia pulled its goalie for a shot at the end of the quarter. Cosmo made the save and threw the ball down to the other end. It went into the net, but was well (couple of seconds) after the horn.

8:03 p.m. - Aaron Wilson had a nice short-handed goal moments ago. He's been a nice pickup this season, albeit under the radar. He leads the team in goals.

8:05 p.m. - Tempers are about to spill over. Priolo flattened a Wings player, and while retaliation was going on, we had breakaways at both ends. Could be a long night. 3-1, Buffalo, with 9:55 left.

8:11 p.m. - Make it 3-2, as Drew Westervelt was credited with a goal that was reviewed.

8:17 p.m. - Bandits have one power-play goal to make it 4-2 (Wiles). They still have three minutes on a major penalty to add to that total.

8:26 p.m. - Two more power-play goals by the Bandits are on the scoreboard. Buffalo leads, 6-2, and four PPGs are a big reason why. Philadelphia sets up for last possession of the half.

8:28 p.m. - And doesn't score. We finish 30 minutes at 6-2.

8:45 p.m. - Teams are back on the field. Luke Wiles has taken the team lead in power-play goals for the season with six.

8:51 p.m. - Lots of early scoring, thanks to power plays. Bandits lead, 7-4, with 11:49 to go. Another Buffalo penalty is coming up.

8:54 p.m. - Sure enough, Philly continues to close in on a PPG goal by Kevin Crowley. The Wings have it down to two goals. Blowouts are hard to come by in this league.

9:00 p.m. - Big goal by Dhane Smith to restore a three-goal lead by the Bandits. I was starting to wonder if the gas tank was getting low after a game yesterday.

9:08 p.m. - Bandits seem back in their rhythm. They have a 9-6 lead with 1:37 left in period.

9:12 p.m. - Short-handed goal by Kevin Buchanan cuts the lead to 9-7 after three. 

9:28 p.m. - Bandits holding on to a 10-7 lead with 7:40 left. Good goaltending on both ends, particularly from Brandon Miller.

9:34 p.m. - Wings cut it to 10-9 with 4:18 left. Never a dull moment in this sport.

9:38 p.m. - 1:21 left, and Wings on the power play.

9:41 p.m. - Jordan Hall apparently scored on a low shot witih 3.7 seconds left to tie it. It does count.

9:46 p.m - Two minutes into OT. Still 10-10.

9:47 p.m. - Not for long. Westervelt scores to make it 11-10, upon review. And it counts.

11:41 p.m. - As usual, the blog entries get shorter when the game is winding down, as I have to write the story for the first edition. From a Bandits' perspective, this one really hurts. You can't give up a three-goal lead in the final six minutes and lose in overtime. This cost them a share of first place and the tiebreaker with Philadelphia if it comes to that.

Darris Kilgour was unhappy that the shot clock wasn't reset a couple of times in the final couple of minutes, and he let the officials know about it after the game. Still, Buffalo shouldn't have been in that position.

The Wings did say they tried to pick up the tempo down the stretch, knowing Buffalo was playing a second game in two nights. Good idea.

Next up, a Western team! Colorado comes into town. Stories should be posted on our website shortly.

--- Budd Bailey 

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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