Buffalo Sabres Beat Washington Capitals 8-5

After attending tonight’s Sabres – Capitals game with Kevin and Jerome (both of BfloBlog fame) and perhaps thirteen other people, I was torn between the headline used above and the following other options:
“Marty Biron Sucks”
-or-
“How do you know when its time to take your Johnson out?” (More on that later.)
With a lake effect snow storm raging just south of Buffalo (12-14 inches in places) the crowd was a bit thin at tonight’s game but the die-hards were expecting a win over the Capitals. It was disappointing to learn that Marty Biron would get the start over Mika Noronen but most people, including myself, were thinking “Its just the Capitals, how bad could Marty play?” We would find out the pathetically sad answer to that soon enough.

The night started out well enough – a few large beers and good seats, along with a provocatively stripper-esque entrance by the Sabres mascot, “Sabre Tooth”. As “The Tooth” was rappelling down from the rafters during the game’s intro he (she?) did a little Canadian ballerina move on the rope by flipping upside down and wrapping his (her’s?) legs around the rope like a professional looking for dollar bills. Now that I think about it, I think a friend of mine lost his virginity to “The Tooth” the weekend before his wedding. There were a lot of beers that night so its difficult to say for sure.

While I was contemplating that, Brian Campbell scored the first goal of the game to put the Sabres ahead just 37 seconds into the game. Most Sabres fans are used to early goals when Marty Biron is in net but they are usually scored against the Sabres, not by the Sabres. What a welcome treat that was. Of course, Marty was in typical form and allowed the Capitals to score less than four minutes later to tie the game at 1-1.

This first goal would be the first of many goals and scoring chances that Biron would give up simply because he cannot control rebounds. Marty is like someone who is duck-taped to the goal posts. If the puck hits him it will most likely bounce off of him and land in front of the net creating a perfect scoring opportunity for the opposition. Why doesn’t he hang onto the loose puck or smother the rebounds? Good question. Perhaps the team that eventually trades for him can figure it out. In the meantime, someone should teach him that its OK to catch and/or smother the puck.

There were so many goals in tonight’s game that I won’t bother with a recap of each one. Its enough to know that the Sabres were up 4-1 after the first period on goals by (Mmm, mmm…good!) Campbell, Kotalik, and Pyatt (who had two in the first). It was looking like the night would be a blowout.

In the first eight minutes of the second period the Sabres went up by a score of 6-1 on goals by Kalinin and Campbell. This is about the time we started pondering the drunkenly funny question of “How long do you leave your Johnson in?” The Capitals had started Brent Johnson in net and through a period and a half of hockey he looked positively sieve-like. The Capitals left him in though, perhaps realizing that with Marty Biron in net, a five goal deficit is never out of reach. Sure enough, Washington scored three unanswered goals within eight minutes of each other to close the gap to 6-4. The Sabres left the ice to loud boos at the end of the second period – the first time a home team has ever been booed after scoring six goals in two periods and holding a two goal lead. These are fickle fans. The booing may have had something to do with the seven minute power play that the Sabres had in the second period. Not only did they not score during the power play, they managed to let Washington score a short-handed goal. Nice work by the special teams.

Speaking of the seven minute power play, it came after Brendan Witt was tossed from the game after playing extremely cheap against Sabres rookie, Thomas Vanek. The Caps were P.O.’d about the game and looking for a spark when a five-on-five melee broke out. Witt threw some extremely cheap punches at a defenseless Vanek which led to a game misconduct. In hockey, once you’ve got your opponent beat, its traditional to let up. Witt will surely receive some payback in the form of Andrew Peters’ fists when these two teams face each other again later this month. He’ll deserve everything he gets too. On a related note, the Buffalo Sabres Carruba Collision of the game went to Witt’s fists for their repeated pummeling of Vanek’s chicklets.

Buffalo would finally regroup in the third period and go on to win the game by a score of 8-5. The fact that they let Washington get back into the game is partly due to the “new” NHL that favors goal scoring but is mostly due to extremely bad goaltending by Marty Biron. Before I look like too much of a Marty basher I want to go on record as saying that I have been a fan of his for a long time. I’m one of maybe four other Americans who actually watch the NHL Draft each year and I remember when the Sabres drafted Marty. At the time, I thought that this was our goalie of the future who would be a super-star. I enjoyed watching him excel in the AHL (with Rochester) and I thought that backing up Dominik Hasek would be great for his development.

Something happened along the way though. Biron is just so aloof and indifferent that I wonder if he’s on the verge of flunking out of the NHL. Is this what happens as a result of too much raw talent, not enough hard work, and large six-to-seven figure checks regularly showing up at your door? Its called being too comfortable. I don’t like his attitude or his lackluster approach to the game. Darcy Regier should send him down to Rochester to play in the AHL for a while to see if that fixes his attitude at all. What’s that? You’re saying that he won’t clear waivers? Well, what a shame that would be. The Sabres would clear 1 to 2 million in payroll and some other team would have the headache. Sounds good to me.

The Sabres will have Ryan Miller back in a couple of weeks and its about time that Buffalo found out if Mika Noronen can play or not. Keep in mind that many hockey “experts’ actually favor Noronen over Biron as far as raw talent is concerned. Again – why won’t Ruff play Mika? The more he sits, the harder it is to put him in as a starter. It’s a Catch-22 that Ruff has created. One of the biggest knocks on Ruff as a coach has been his ability to handle goalies. We are seeing it all over again this season. After the game Ruff was quoted as saying that “it looked at the end of the night that we might need nine or ten” (goals). That’s because Marty played horribly. Enough is enough – put Mika in and let the chips fall where they may. Give him three games in a row and see what happens. How much worse can it get? The Sabres face the Bruins, Rangers, and Islanders in the next three games. They are all winnable games and the Sabres should expect to go 2 for 3 in this stretch. It’s a perfect time to see what Mika’s got in the tank.

Speaking of the next three games… Two games ago, Ruff challenged his team to win six of the next eight games. They are two for two right now. In addition to the Bruins, Rangers, and Islanders, the Sabres also play the Canadiens, Capitals (again), and Penguins in that stretch. None of these teams are Stanley Cup contenders. Lindy – please, please, please let Noronen play four to six of the following games. Biron has played horribly in all but one or two of his starts this season. He constantly gives up rebounds and lets in soft goals. How confident is the rest of the team playing in front of him while trying to protect a lead or get that go-ahead goal? Not very, I’m sure. Ryan Miller isn’t due back for 2-4 weeks – you’ve got to change it up in the meantime.

Game Notes: Taylor Pyatt had a hat trick and Brian Campbell scored two goals tonight. The Sabres play again on Saturday night in Boston against the Bruins. The Bruins lost to Toronto (in Boston) tonight and fell one point behind the Sabres in the Northeast Division. One other thing – that Ovechkin? He’s the real deal my friends. He had one goal and one assist tonight but he does everything well. He skates fast, hits hard, and could stick-handle his way out of a paper bag. He undressed Derek Roy with one particular move tonight and Roy is still looking for his jock. I haven’t seen anyone handle the puck like that since Gretzky. I’d take him over Sydney Crosby any day of the week.

Trivial Game Notes: The Sabres have been paying some dork to come to a few home games each year and dance around to “The Twist” and other annoying songs for the past few years. Is this really entertainment? If even one penny of the thirty bucks that my ticket cost goes to this whack-off then I feel like I’m being cheated. He is an annoying, no-talent, dork who can dance around during commercial timeouts and …are you ready?…take off his jersey and (multiple) tee shirts and throw them into the crowd! How totally wicked cool (if you’re three years old). As for the rest of us, please spare us the stupidity.

 

Morning Drive-Time Radio in Buffalo Makes My Ears Bleed

I woke up this morning with a wee bit of a headache that might possibly be a result of the beer at last night’s hockey game. For seven bucks a pop, at least I got my money’s worth. I needed a long, hot shower to clear the cobwebs. My wife and I have a shower radio that is possessed by the “ghost of bad tuning past”. On a day-to-day basis you never know what stations are going to come in clear. I don’t understand this because the radio doesn’t move, the house doesn’t move, and I’m pretty sure that the radio broadcast towers don’t move. How can a station not come in clear every day then? I don’t know but it doesn’t.

Anyway, my wife had tuned the station to Shredd and Ragan on 103.3. Listening to these two losers in the morning would have given me a headache if I didn’t have one already. Shredd and Ragan are both sophomoric and possibly retarded. The frustrating thing is that I like sophomoric and retarded humor but their particular take on that niche is decidedly not funny. I immediately changed the station.

97 Rock was coming in this morning so I decided to leave the dial there for a while. I like 97 Rock up to a certain point. Norton in the morning is a fixture of Buffalo radio but he’s getting a bit dated. They added Chris Klein to the show a few years ago to attract a younger audience, I think. She’s probably in her late twenties or early thirties so she contrasts well with Norton but I have to wonder if she even knows who half the bands are that they play on the station (Led Zeppelin, Rush, Boston, etc.). My guess is that even she doesn’t listen to her own station when she’s not on the air. What I do like about 97 Rock is Rob Lederman. He’s funny. He’s so funny that he’s actually a comedian. He can make me laugh on and off for about ten minutes but after that I’ve had enough. Its pretty much the same routine. Needless to say, I turned off the radio after about ten minutes.

Next up is my drive to work. I like to start on WGR-55 (AM) to get the Sports Ticker in the morning. After that I’ll see if they have any interesting guests on. Listening to morning host Howard Simon in order to get actual sports insight isn’t possible because he doesn’t really know a whole lot about sports. This morning, GR was continuing their search for the GR Ball Girl. This is a lame excuse to attract listeners who want to listen to girls who may or may not be hot.

Why not just hire some stripper from Canada and be done with it? I was able to last for about three minutes before turning it off. (Hmmm…”I was able to last for about three minutes”…why does that sound so familiar to me???)

I flipped the dial to FM and started scanning…

Kiss 98.5 – God no! I can handle Nick and Weez (sp?) but Janet Snyder makes me want to climb into the radio and punch her. She is so arrogant and conceited. Not only that, but she is dumber than a box of rocks. If I had a nickel for every time she was wrong about news stories or pronouncing people’s names I could buy the station and fire her.

Star 102.5 – Very vanilla, not too offensive, but its also pretty boring and lame. This morning (or at some point this past week) they started playing Christmas Carols. Hello…McFly…its NOVEMBER 18th!!! I now have “Happy Holidays” by Andy Williams stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Luckily, it has some catchy lyrics that I can change to make them dirty. For example, “I got a peppermint stick from old Saint Nick”, and “So hoop-de-doo and dickery dock. And don’t forget to hang up your sock”. So many baudy things rhyme with “stick”, “dock”, and “sock” that this might actually be my favorite Christmas song. Definitely not one for the children though.

By this time I was in my parking lot and was able to thankfully turn off the radio. A lot of people may be thinking, “Hey – you forgot Howard Stern”. You’re right – I have forgotten about him but that was five years ago when he stopped being funny. How many porn stars and strippers can I listen too? If I could see them it would be different, but I can’t, so therefore it isn’t. His tired act of saying “F’ or “Eff” is too old for me.

Thank god for the iPod and CD players.

 

Bruschi Beats Bills, Cures Lepers

The New England Bruschi’s beat the Buffalo Bills by the score of 21-16 last night, marking the first time that one player was able to defeat an entire NFL team.

The show opened with a Tedy Bruschi scored introduction and tribute to Tedy Bruschi. Apparently during the time off Bruschi had, he was able to compose three concerto’s, and used parts of one on the ESPN introduction. It was here that Joe Theismann noted that Bruschi also was on the verge of curing cancer during his downtime, but God personally spoke to him and asked him to play football for his favorite team instead.

From the Bills first series when they ran a reverse that Tedy Bruschi made a hit on, until he end of the game when Tedy Bruschi cheered really loud as Corey Dillon ran for two touchdowns in a span of 1:30, the Bruschi’s were clearly destined to win.

Paul Maguire noted early on that “you just don’t run a reverse against Tedy Bruschi,” causing offensive coordinators around the NFL to feed their playbooks into paper shredders. The announcers also pointed out that Bruschi was on the field for all but ten or so of the defensive plays, and noted that Willis McGahee would have had zero yards (as opposed to his 136) if Bruschi had played every snap.

I was looking over the official box score, and was wondering when Sevie Wonder was appointed to the NFL stat crew, as Bruschi was credited with only five tackles. Hey, stat guy, there were more than five tackles in the game! Get your facts straight.

I think my favorite moment was when Kelly Holcomb dropped back to pass, and got hit from behind by Bruschi, who must have switched jerseys with Roosevelt Colvin in order to confuse the Bills (genius coaching move by Bruschi there.) I tried to see what happened on my 32″ television, but it was difficult considering the picture was in a two square inch box thanks to a touching interview by Suzy Kolber with Bob Kraft on how super awesome Tedy Bruschi is. Anyway, Bruschi-Colvin jarred the ball loose, and I assume Bruschi fell on it. Likely the only thing that prevented Bruschi from scoring was an on-field heart attack. Fortunately for the New England Bruschi’s, Bruschi carries a defibrulator and is trained in Red Cross self-CPR, so after New England scored he was able to go out for special teams work.

I heard that Bruschi’s wife was in attendance as well, but ESPN never showed a single shot of her. They did, however, keep showing some homely blonde in the audience claiming to be Mrs. Bruschi, but we all know that wasn’t her as Mrs. Bruschi was probably doing a supermodel shoot or saving abandoned puppies in New Orleans.

Sadly, the telecast ended before ESPN could get around to showing every homemade sign with the #54 on it. Reached for comment, ESPN producers noted that they had four cameras dedicated to finding “all things Bruschi related,” and while they may not have all made it on the air, the footage still exists. Plans are currently being made to air a one-hour special entitled “Signs of Love, a Tribute to Tedy With Cardboard and Indelible Marker.” Don’t worry if you miss it sportsfans, as ESPN will be making a DVD as well. When asked if maybe those cameras would have been better used for reviews of key New England passes ruled complete despite the fact the ball hit the ground, ESPN producers replied that “they give the fans what they want, and right now they want Bruschi, Bruschi, and more Bruschi.”

The Bills now stand at a crossroads witha 3-5 record going into the bye-week. They are expected to consult with Tedy Bruschi this week to determine their starting quarterback after the break. Bruschi made it clear he would not be available until Wednesday as he was flying to third world countries to “lay hands” on lepers and AIDS patients. What a loser! A real man would just find a cure!

 

More on DePo

Reading the post-DePodesta analysis today has me wondering what sort of man Dodger owner Frank McCourt really is. It’s been two years since the McCourts took the reigns of baseballs second-most storied franchise, and LA and their fans have nothing but chaos to show for it.

When DePodesta cleaned house last off-season, the moves made sense to me. It’s like he was saying that they couldn’t win the series as the team was comprised, and why not take a couple years to build it up into a World Series team? I am perhaps foolish enough to assume that he ran that plan by the owner, and that McCourt gave it his support. So why the change of heart less than one year later? First, McCourt is widely disliked by Dodger fans. He may just be insecure enough to try to take the easy way out and fire DePodesta. Or, he could be one of those guys who just wants to win, and win now. The problem is, after two years of following McCourt, I have no idea what scenario seems more likely.

In reading the LA Times today, Ross Newhan mentioned that Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting News had written that Tommy Lasorda has been poisoning the relationship between McCourt and DePodesta. I stopped reading Rosenthal after this years preseason predictions that had him predict Barry Bonds would be the MVP, Felipe Alou would be the Manager of the Year, and that the Giants would cruise to a runaway win in the West. Newhan calls Rosenthal “respected”, but I call him a hack. Still, in this case I believe him (probably because I wrote the same thing yesterday.)

If that indeed is the case, I fear that McCourt is taking advice from a poor source. As a Dodger fan, I love what Tommy has meant to the franchise, but his time is past. Long past. And Lasorda strikes me as the baseball “old guard” type who would be personally insulted by the Beane/DePodesta types and would work hard to discredit them. Usually this is done out of ignorance, and the thought that these statistical-minded managers let their computers pick their rosters, even though nothing could be further from the truth.

My problem wih the DePodesta matter isn’t that he was fired, it’s that they let the coach go, and then the GM. It also stems from the fact that DePo wasn’t given an opportunity to shape his roster to his liking. All I know is that two years from now, some Dodger GM will be reaping the benefits of an outstanding farm system, one which was preserved under DePodesta as part of his rebuilding plan. As Newhan said in his article today: “At some point, the McCourts need to look in the mirror and let one of the people they have hired play out a blueprint.” I couldn’t agree more

 

Sabres at Hurricanes Tonight (Plus thoughts on last night)

Tonights (or more properly, this afternoon’s) matchup features what has to be two of the leagues biggest surprise teams. Carolina is second in the NHL in points, trailing the Red Wings by a mere point for the overall lead. The Sabres are fifth overall, and after last nights action continue to trail Ottawa by three points in the Northeast Conference. Carolina has cooled off a bit of late, going 6-4 over their last 10 games, while Buffalo is 7-2-1 over the same span. Before Friday’s puzzling loss at home to Pittsburgh, Carolina had won nine straight home games.

Center Eric Staal is burning up the league right now, and leads his team with 74 points (36G, 38A).

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was true to his word last night as he juggled lines frequently, so I won’t even try to guess what this afternoons lines will look like.

As for last night, the game never even felt like it was close, even when Florida tied it at two in the second. You could see from the players body language that Buffalo was going to win, and that Florida expected to lose. A few little things I noticed:

– Andrew Peters is an awful hockey player, and his goon mentality often hurts the team in small ways. At one point early in the third he was looking for someone to drop with him, but couldn’t find any takers. As the play progressed, Florida cleared their zone with a pass along the boards. Peters had the forecheck, and he continued deep into the zone long after the puck was out in an attempt to hit the Florida defenseman. Florida ended up turning the puck over in the neutral zone, and Buffalo had numbers coming into the Florida end but they had to pull back because Peters was still deep in the Florida end thanks to his looking to goon it up. A wasted scoring opportunity.

– From the “What does Kevin Know?” Department: After the first period I turned to the Missus and was complaining about Thomas Vanek. He had shown nothing at that point, and I commented that he was loafing, and that for a goal-scorer he sure managed to avoid being near the puck. (She was unimpressed with my analysis, by the way.) Two periods and two goals later, I wasn’t looking so smart. However, I stand by my analysis. Vanek simply does not work hard, but when he gets the puck he can do amazing things. He is, however, very young and hopefully his teammates efforts will rub off on him.

– Vanek would do well to copy Paul Gaustad’s efforts. He is the hardest working player on the ice every night. Jason Pominville is a close second.

– I don’t know why I never noticed, but in the absence of all our players, Mike Grier and Jay McKee are wearing the “A’s.”

– Taylor Pyatt’s obliteration of Steve Motador in the third sucked all remaining life out of Florida. They just mailed it in after that. On a related note, for a guy I was ready to send to Rochester as recently as two weeks ago, Pyatt has been very impressive. He made two huge plays in Florida’s end by using his size on the boards that had me wondering what he may turn into if he keeps plaing hard. (Apparently, Montador has a broken nose now.)

– Finally, how do the Sabres keep winning? So many injuries…Hecht, Briere, Connolly, Mair, Kalinin…all out last night. It’s really amazing that Andrew Peters and Jiri Novotny are in games and the Sabres are still winning. Incidentally, the second Florida goal was all on Novotny. In his inexperience he broke up ice when he was supposed to be covering for his d-man. Result was a two-on-one and a Florida goal. Another young player who will learn.

 

Buffalo Sabres Lose 3-2 to NJ Devils

For the second game in a row the Buffalo Sabres played poorly in the first two periods and lost by a score of 3-2. The Sabres were facing a rookie goaltender, Scott Clemmensen, and only managed to put 11 shots on him through two periods. Thanks to some great saves by Ryan Miller early on the Sabres were only down 1-0 heading into the third period. Buffalo came out flying in the third and put 16 shots on net. With the score tied 2-2 late in the third Henrik Tallinder took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. The Devils scored on that power play to go ahead for good, 3-2.

I was shocked at how poorly the Sabres played in the first and second period. With the exception of Maxim Afinogenov and Ryan Miller the Sabres looked overwhelmed by the Devils. New Jersey deserves credit for their excellent fore-checking. They gave the Sabres defensemen fits the entire game. The Sabres defensemen looked like rookies tonight. Defense was a concern for the Sabres going into the season and tonight highlighted why. They turned the puck over in their own end and at the opposite blue line and had difficulty knocking the Devils off the puck down low. If that continues other teams are going to take advantage of it the same way New Jersey did tonight.

New Jersey was able to get on the scoreboard first when Briere and Numminen both let former Sabre, Erik Rasmussen get position in front of the net and one-time a pass from behind the net past Miller. The Devils went up 2-0 when Rory Fitzpatrick misplayed the puck at the Devil’s blue line and allowed a New Jersey breakout. Scott Gomez fired a shot past Miller from up high that Miller probably should have saved. He wasn’t screened and he was square to the shooter – he should have stopped it.

After starting the game 0-4 on the power play the Sabres scored on their fifth attempt. Briere made a nice move to the net from along the goal line and tried to pass the puck through the Devil’s crease. It ended up deflecting into the net off a Devil’s skate. The second Sabres goal was the result of some great checking by Hecht and Grier. Grier ended up with the puck behind the Devil’s net and backhanded a pass out to Chris Drury who one-timed it past Clemmensen for his first goal of the season.

The momentum was on the Sabres side until Henrik Tallinder shot the puck over the glass in his own end and took a delay of game penalty with six minutes left in the third. New Jersey scored on that power play when Brylin redirected a Rafalski shot from the point past Miller. The Sabres continued to apply pressure but couldn’t get the tying goal past Clemmensen, even after pulling Miller for the extra attacker.

The big picture for the Sabres is that they have lost two games in a row for the first time all season and are now only two games over .500 at 6-4. Their schedule doesn’t get easier anytime soon. They’ll be on the road again tomorrow night against the Islanders who are a dangerous 5-5 team. With Marty Biron scheduled to get his first start of the season it could end up being a three game losing streak if he’s rusty. The Sabres can avoid that by getting back to fundamentals and start shooting the puck on net more. Prior to the past two games the Sabres were averaging 35-40 shots on net. Now they are passing the puck around and trying to play “fancy” hockey. As a result, their shots on net are down and they are losing. Lindy Ruff needs to get them firing the puck from all angles again and swarming to the net for loose rebounds. That’s how they are going to win games.

 

Buffalo Sabres defeat the Florida Panther, 5-3

The Buffalo Sabres had been 0 for 3 in games against the Florida Panthers so far this season and were looking to finally get a “W” against this team. Buffalo outplayed Florida in the decisive third period and earned that win. Buffalo rookie, Jiri Novotny, scored his first NHL goal and Thomas Vanek scored twice as the Sabres lit up Roberto Luongo for five goals.

JP Dumont scored the lone goal of the first period at the 17:29 mark. Dumont used some great hand-eye coordination to bat a pass from Ales Kotalik out of the air and past Luongo. Novotny followed that up at 5:02 of the second period to put the Sabres up 2-0. Jason Pominville worked the puck down low to Derek Roy behind the goal line to Luongo’s left. Roy passed the puck out to Novotny who was alone in front and quickly fired it past the goalie.

Up by two goals, Buffalo let their guard down a little and let Florida back into the game. Former Sabre Chris Gratton got Florida on the scoreboard at the 10:49 mark when he knocked down Teppo Numminen during a scrum in the Sabres crease and then knocked the puck past Ryan Miller. Just over five minutes later Johnathan Sim tied it up at 2-2 after a two on one break into the Sabres zone. Numminen was the lone Sabre back and he couldn’t break up the cross ice pass from Juraj Kolnik to Sim. Sim got the pass and flipped a shot past Miller high on the stick side.

Buffalo regained the lead 3-2 with less than a minute left in the period on Vanek’s first goal of the game. Max Afinogenov was tripped from behind but still managed to pass the puck to Vanek in the slot to Luongo’s left. Vanek had his back to the net when he got the pass but he quickly spun to his left and fired the puck past Luongo on the short side.

Vanek increased the Sabres lead to two goals five minutes into the third period on a wrap-around goal that went in on Luongo’s right side. Vanek used his speed to get to the outside and continue around behind the net and managed to beat Luongo to the far side.

After that goal, Taylor Pyatt and Steve Montador both got fighting majors after a spirited scrap. Pyatt came out on top after he popped Montador in the nose and he started bleeding all over the ice. The Sabres have to be happy to see Pyatt willing to drop the gloves. He’s a big player who can grind it out in the corners and take some punishment in front of the net but a player needs to be willing to drop the gloves every now and then. It gives your opponents one more thing to worry about. It also indicates that Pyatt’s wrist is completely healed.

Late in the third period Buffalo had a five on three power play that they failed to capitalize on. The Sabres did finally score while the Panthers were still one man down though. Toni Lydman took a shot from the right point into traffic in front of the net. The puck was stopped but Pominville picked up the loose puck and shot it past a screened Luongo.

Buffalo was up 5-2 at this point with only 3:34 left in the game but Florida wasn’t ready to quit just yet. They came back and scored 15 seconds later to make it 5-3. Another two on one break by Florida led to the goal. It was very similar to the second Panther goal. Jay McKee picked up Nathan Horton but couldn’t stop the right to left pass to Mike Van Ryn. Van Ryn tipped the pass past Miller who couldn’t get square to the shot in time.

The game ended with Buffalo still on top 5-3. It was a huge win for Buffalo from a mental standpoint. They came back strong after a lackluster performance against Montreal on Thursday night and beat a team that they had lost to three times this season. The win puts Buffalo (76 points) back in fourth place in the Eastern Conference behind Carolina (80 points), Ottawa (79 points), and the NY Rangers (78 points). The Sabres travel to Carolina tonight for a 5:00 PM start against the Hurricanes tomorrow. That will be Buffalo’s final game before the Olympic break.

 

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