The Sabres and Penguins will be working off their post-Thanksgiving trytophan hangover tonight in HSBC Arena. We've been in the dark on Buffalo's lineup since the morning skate and here's the big news: Thomas Vanek IS in the Sabres lineup as are Daniel Paille and Maxim Afinogenov. Vanek, in fact, is in the starting lineup with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. The scratches are Andrew Peters, Tim Connolly and Nathan Paetsch.
Pittsburgh won the first meeting, 5-2, Nov. 15 in Mellon Arena and the teams will finish their season series by playing three times in the next 13 games. They complete the set here Dec. 22 -- more than a week before the anniversary of last season's Winter Classic on New Year's Day at the Ralph. WNYer Brooks Orpik is in the Penguins' starting lineup, as are ex-Sabre Miroslav Satan and Sidney Crosby.
Ryan Miller is in goal for Buffalo with rookie John Curry making his first NHL start for the Penguins -- so you would think the shoot-early-and-often strategy will apply for the Sabres tonight. Former center Dave Andreychuk and longtime PA announcer Milt Ellis will be inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame during a brief pregame ceremony so faceoff is set for 7:42.
Update: The Ellis-Andreychuk ceremony was a classy one. Terrific videos on the HD board and a standing ovation for Andreychuk. Ellis did a fake announcement of a 40th goal by the former Sabres' ace too.
16:49 left: The Sabres kill the two-man advantage and tie the game at 3-3 as Stafford pops home a Vanek feed on a 3-on-2. A three-point game for Stafford. No Sabre has had a four-pointer this season. Stafford, seemingly on the brink of being a scratch for a week, has doubled his goal total from two to four.
7:46 left: Still tied at 3-3 and Curry just made a sparkling glove save on Mancari. The kid has definitely been one of the stars of this one. Pretty good performance from a No. 3 guy just up from the minors.
4:36 left: Curry robs Vanek from in front with a sensational glove stop to keep it tied. No complaints about Buffalo's game in this one. Would be a shame to not get at least one point. On review, the puck was ruled not to be over the goal line but it was close. The folks here incited the crowd and the Buffalo bench by showing the replay a couple of times before the call was made. I'm sure the officials and the NHL office won't be happy with that.
3:24 left: Another tip-in for Gaustad on a Pominville feed makes it 4-3. Two goals for Stafford, two for Gaustad. This team has needed secondary scoring. Ruff talked about it a lot this morning and he's got to be thrilled with this.
3:04 left: The Pens almost come right back again as Miller sprawls to rob Crosby.
It's over: A 4-3 win. Huge effort for Buffalo's 2nd straight. Final shots were 32-30 for the Sabres, including 10-3 in the third.
15:12 left: Just back from spending the first intermission and more talking with Ellis and Andreychuk. Really great conversations, with more nuggets than I'll ever fit in print tomorrow. Heard a big bang up there and of course it was a Kaleta check on Satan called boarding. Lots of boos. Now it's 4-on-4 as Roy undresses Malkin, who is called for hooking after Curry makes the save.
10:06 left: Probably will be fewer posts than normal as I put together my Andreychuk-Ellis story. But it's still 1-1 in a game that's very even. Shots are 20-18 for Pittsburgh and Curry has been up to the task in his NHL debut.
9:29 left: Sabres go on the power play after Orpik drills Paille from behind and gets sent off for interference (could have been boarding too). Pretty cheap shot from the local boy.
7:39 left: The Sabres cash in for a 2-1 lead with 10 seconds left in the penalty as Stafford sends a neat feed to Gaustad in the slot and the Goose takes a quick gander (OK, shoot me for grabbing the obvious pun) before tapping home his first of the season.
7:05 left: So much for that lead as Crosby takes a rebound off the backboards and swipes it out of the air past Miller to make it 2-2.
END OF THE 2ND: Referees Eric Furlatt and Dean Morton are making no friends with either team. No one really knows what will be called and what won't. The Pens lead, 3-2, as Crosby scored with 56 seconds left, faking a slapshot and burning Miller through the five-hole after Malkin stole the puck from Spacek. It came on a 4-on-4 just 20 seconds after Vanek missed an open net off a MacArthur rebound and then pulled down Kris Letang behind the net.
Pominville then got a cheap trip in the offensive zone with 29.3 seconds left. The Pens will have a two-mane advantage for 52 seconds to start the third. Shots are 15-11 for Pittsburgh in the second and 27-22 overall.
(apologies for the lack of posts. We've been writing them but our on-the-fritz web server doesn't want to post them again. Hopefully the gremlins are out now)
13:46 left: No score as the Penguins have a 6-4 edge in shots as the Sabres killed off the only penalty, a high-sticking call to Patrick Kaleta at 2:18. Vanek and Roy killed a good chunk of that penalty and even got a 2-on-1 break on it. Would certainly like to see more of Vanek on the PK unit, like we did in the first couple games of the season.
The lines: Stafford-Roy-Vanek; Gaustad-Hecht-Pominville; Paille-MacArthur-Mancari; Afinogenov-Mair-Kaleta. Defense (no changes): Spacek-Sekera; Lydman-Rivet; Tallinder-Numminen.
12:30 left: Dude below the press box just yelled in a quiet moment before a faceoff, "Crosby, you [stink]." Breaks my two cardinal rules of heckling: a). be original and b). be accurate. I expect more, people.
9:31 left: The Penguins take the 1-0 lead as Tyler Kennedy has a tap-in on a pass from Matt Cooke after slipping behind Rivet and Hecht to the right of Miller.
8:35 left: Once in a while -- once in a great while -- Afinogenov's dipsy-do routine will work. He stickhandles through the Pens' zone and feeds Stafford for a tap-in of his own to Curry's right at the edge of the crease. 1-1.
6:21 left: Great shift by the Gaustad-Paille-Mancari line along with great work at the point by Rivet keeps the Pens hemmed in. But a hooking call on Pominville ends Buffalo's pressure. It was a hook but the Pens got away with a couple infractions in the previous minute that weren't called and Lindy Ruff was pretty disgusted about that.
A big gripe: At least on the night Ellis is inducted into the team's Hall of Fame, can we PLEASE get goals and penalties announced when they happen like they should be? We waited through an entire timeout and the obligatory music silliness before Pominville's penalty was announced. It's a hockey game, not a concert. Sabres' game staff is as guilty of that infraction as every other NHL team these days. We got an ad for the Junior Sabres, the Brady Bunch folks sitting in a suite and a Miller Big Save before we learned about Teppo Numminen's hooking call with 3:52 left too. Boooooooo.
2:21 left: Miro Satan is getting the Briere/Chara treatment with the boos when he touches the puck and got the Bronx cheer when his hooking penalty was announced. And that only took a few seconds. Nice.
End of the 1st: It's 1-1 through one. Pens have a 12-11 edge in shots.
taggedSabres game day