The home portion of the preseason is under way in HSBC Arena as the Sabres and Leafs meet in the first of back-to-back home games for Buffalo (Minnesota is here Sunday night at 7). The starting goalies are Ryan Miller for Buffalo and Justin Pogge for Toronto. The backups are Jhonas Enroth and Vesa Toskala, the Leafs' No. 1.
Kind of an odd sight to see rows and rows of empty seats in the 300 level and on the 100 ends. There's probably 11,000 or so in the house. Of course, this game was not part of the season ticket package and tomorrow's game will be. Have to see what kind of impact a 4 p.m. Bills game has on tomorrow's crowd.
Here are the Sabres lines for tonight:
Vanek-Roy-Afinogenov; MacArthur-Gaustad-Kotalik; Gogulla-Zagrapan-Stafford; Peters-Schutz-Kaleta
On defense the starters were Rivet and Lydman. The other pairs are Numminen-Weber and Myers-Sekera. Numminen, of course, hasn't played in the arena since Daniel Alfredsson's overtime goal for Ottawa won Game Five of the '07 Eastern Conference final.
The Sabres' name scratches include Henrik Tallinder, Jaroslav Spacek, Tim Connolly, Daniel Paille, Adam Mair, Jason Pominville and Nathan Paetsch. Rookies Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy are also out, with Kennedy hoping to get a chance to play once at home tonight before getting sent to Portland.
We'll have a few more updates as the night goes on.
Update: An astute e-mailer (and an equally astute commentor below) asks about the letters tonight. It's Numminen with the C and Gaustad and Rivet with the As..
3:57 left: Sabres win it, 3-2, on Kotalik's long slapper from near the blue line. Pretty soft goal. Nice comeback though for sure.
14:36 left: The Leafs finally break through with the first goal as Ian White picks off an clearing attempt and beats Miller with a screened shot from the slot as Rivet is off for delay of game (puck over the glass). Wonder if Numminen screened Miller a little on that one too or if the puck may have gone in off of the veteran.
7:04 left: The Sabres have been outshot, 8-3, in this period and aren't generating a whole lot of offense. Of course, being in the penalty box too much is one issue on that front. Vanek is now off on a four-minute high-sticking penalty. The Leafs still lead it, 1-0. Tonight's useless stat: The Sabres haven't been blanked in a preseason game since a 1-0 loss here to Ottawa in 2001.
6:40 left: The Leafs make it 2-0 as Pavel Kubina drills one in from the point. Not much chance for Miller on that one. Nice low shot.
5:20 left: Some concern on the Leafs bench as Jason Blake limps off after taking a puck to the right foot/ankle. He had a tough time getting off the ice and is doubled over on the bench.
2:21 left: The Sabres pull within 2-1 as Roy tips in an Afinogenov pass on a power play. In fact, they pulled Miller and spent a few seconds trying it as a 6-on-4. Attendance, by the way, is announced as 14,629. Certainly a little high but not overly outrageous either.
It's tied up: The Sabres get even with five seconds left on another frantic power play as Gaustad pushes home an Afinogenov feed. This is a preseason game? You should listen to this place as we go to overtime. Max's second assist and Rivet's first as a Sabre. Shots are 30-28 for Buffalo through regulation (11-8 for the Leafs in the third).
Opening thought: Pretty annoying to hear folks come over the border to yell "Go Leafs Go" at a preseason game. It's preseason so I've avoided slipping into Laffs mode when referring to the visitors. Few more of those yells and I'll slip back.
14:47 left: Does Andrew Peters want to make this team? Patrick Kaleta just crunched three Leafs on one shift and Jonas Frogren finally took the retaliation penalty for interfering with Kaleta. Peters tried to get involved in a scrum after the whistle and nearly got a penalty that would have nullifed the power play. He did, however, get slapped with his second miscondut in three games. Gotta know when to walk away, big guy. Don't be canceling power plays drawn by Kaleta.
10:31 left: Still scoreless closing in on the halfway mark. Buffalo has a 21-12 edge in shots and is going back on the power play. Solid showings by both goaltenders so far.
7:49 left: You know the T-shirt promotion where they're shot out of an air gun? They just had Rick Jeanneret shoot 'em out of the radio booth on the roof. He got one to the front row behind the glass and another landed on the ice! A linesman flipped it back into the crowd.
7:18 left: Mike Weber gets a five-minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct for drilling Matt Stajan with his stick. Pretty deserved. High hit to the neck/head. Wonder if Weber might get a game or two suspension for it too.
End of the second: Still scoreless after two. Not a lot of 5-on-5 hockey in that period with all the penalties. The Sabres have a 22-17 edge in shots (it was 9-7 for the Leafs in the second).
10:48 left: A big welcome to Buffalo for Craig Rivet as he just fired punches into the helmet of Ryan Hollweg in a spirited battle. He's going to be a huge addition to the blueline with his physical presence. Peters and Kaleta were also on the ice at the time and looking for some action. It's preseason so it's obvoius we'll have plenty of side battles going on tonight.
8:10 left: The Sabres have a 10-5 advantage in shots but that might change as Drew Stafford just got sent off for a four-minute package (two for interference, two for roughing). Stafford tried to sucker Mark Bell into a penalty but Bell didn't bit and Stafford got another two.
I'm a big fan of the new stat interface programs that are showing up on the HD Board. From time to time, the game video goes smaller and stats from the players on the ice from both teams are shown. Then the video goes back to full screen. So far we've seen ice times and number of shifts. Wonder if we'll get goals-assists-shots recaps at some point. Awesome.
3:03 left: The Sabres killed off the four-minute power play -- and had the best chance as Vanek was stopped on a 2-on-1 on a neat Roy feed (love who you use to kill penalties in the preseason!). Buffalo has a 12-8 edge in shots. Miller has made a couple of good saves, including a great blocker stop on a slapper from the right circle by Ian White. Now Buffalo is going to the power play as Toronto gets nailed for too many men on the ice.
End of the first: There's no score as the Sabres had a 15-8 edge in shots. Pretty entertaining period. Roy drilled one off the goalpost to Pogge's right during the power play.
taggedSabres game day