Hey, guess where we are:
-That's our frumpy old couch. We were planning on running up to Buffalo today for tonight's game. But news of I-79 being closed partially near Meadville scared us back onto our warm, comfortable couch.
-It's 18 degrees in Pittsburgh right now. Buffalo's colder and has more snow. We'll gladly stay here.
-FSN Pittsburgh provides your projected line totals:
-We really like the changes to the first and second lines. First, you break up Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin and "share" them between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And second, you get Mike Rupp some much deserved time in an elevated role.
-If your name is Dan, apparently you're only allowed to wear pinstripes:
-Bylsma says his team's line changes will hold for "the start of the game."
-Ruslan Fedotenko is a scratch tonight. Eric Godard will man the fourth line.
-The great Martin Skoula is the Penguins' other scratch.
-Buffalo's scratches are Derek Roy, Patrik Kaleta and Andrej Sekera.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller are your starting goaltenders.
-Rupp looks like he's already started the playoffs:
-The Sabres have kind of an odd song they use for warm ups. Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind:"
-Buffalo is wearing it's pseudo throwback jerseys:
-We're not fans of that white line down the sides.
20:00: Bob Errey makes a bold prediction of a Tyler Kennedy fight. We'll go one further and predict he fights Tim Kennedy to claim supremacy over all "T Kennedys" in the NHL.
18:47: Kunitz got popped by Tim Kennedy in the neutral zone.
18:35: Kris Letang snaps off a wrister from the right half wall. Miller gloves that.
18:20: Crosby picks up a loose puck in thes slot, scoots to the right wing and whips a backhander on net which Miller makes an easy save on.
17:51: Adam Mair snaps off a backhander from one knee in the slot. Fleury boots it out with his left leg.
17:20: According to Paul Steigerwald, the Penguins have the following defensive pairings:
15:52: And Tyler Kennedy contributes right away. He carries the puck through the neutral zone, gains the blue linea and snaps off a wrister from the left faceoff circle. Miller makes the save but gives up an iffy rebound. Jordan Staal swoops in and punches the puck by Miller on the glove side. Dan Bylsma must be a really happy camper right now because he loves second-chance rebound goals like that. Miller can't give up that rebound. Kennedy gets the only assist. Penguins 1-0.
15:08: Tim Connolly moves up the right wing and uncorks a slapper with Fleury boot out with his right leg.
14:00ish: Is it us, or does Sabres coach Lindy Ruff give you a little Hedley Lamarr:
11:00: Kunitz backhand chips a wrister into the slot. Crosby jumps on it but can't get a clean shot off.
10:05: Gonchar cranks a slapper from the top of the slot that clears the net and hits the glass.
9:20: Matt Cooke controls a puck behind the cage, turns and distributes to Tyler Kennedy moving in from the left faceoff circle. Kennedy snaps off a wrister that sails out of play.
8:33: Steve Montador snaps off a wrister from the slot. Fleury fights it off. Jochen Hecht is there but can't get a handle on the rebound.
8:28: A wrister from the left point hits Jason Pominville and ricochets through the crease.
7:37: Pascal Dupuis spins and whips a wrister at the cage from the left faceoff circle that gets blocked.
6:23: As Steigerwald reads off Ryan Miller's impressive statistics this season, Errey quips, "Those are video game numbers." Errey must've had NHL 94 set at the hardest level then back in the day because you usually reserve a comment like that for offensive totals.
5:58: Eric Godard is nabbed for slashing Chris Butler. Staal, Cooke, Gonchar and Brooks Orpik take the ice.
4:17: Montador hammers a slapper from the right point that's off the mark.
3:58: Godard's penalty is killed. The Penguins gave up nothing there.
3:10: Guerin snaps off a wrister on net from the left wing. Miller eats it up.
2:36: A wrister by Hecht from the left wing is deflected out of play. As play resumes, Staal has this odd piece of hair poking out of his lid:
1:49: Dupuis leaves a drop pass for Goligoski at the left point. Goligoski hammers a one-timer wide.
1:29: A puck is played around the boards. Guerin controls it on the left half wall, takes a look then grips and rips a wrister that sneaks under Miller's blocker and beats him to the far side. Wha a shot by by Guerin, but once again, Miller lets in an iffy goal. Orpik and Letang get assists. Penguins 2-0.
0:00: End of period. Sabres fans boo their team off the ice. Penguins 2, Sabres 0.
-After a flat first period Sunday against the Maple Leafs, the Penguins have rebounded with a stellar first frame tonight. They Sabres are a good team and the Penguins just outskated them on their own rink for the first 20 minutes.
-The line changes seem to have created a bit more energy among the Penguins. THere just seemed to be a larger sense of urgency throughout the roster.
-Not sure what's up with Miller. He looks like he ate a handfull of sleeping pills prior to the game. He's just sluggish.
-Tyler Kennedy has responded to his benching well. He's playing with some urgency and really moving well.
-The Penguins lead in shots, 10-4.
-Crosby has as many shots as the Sabres.
-Connolly leads the Sabres with two.
-Gonchar leads the game with 7:45 of ice time.
-Montador leads the Sabres with 7:34.
-The Sabres have a 7-6 edge in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Crosby and Paul Gaustad are each 4 for 4 (100 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
-Matt Cooke discusses his day with the Stanley Cup during the intermission. If you recall, there was a pretty big snafu involving the mayor of Stirling, Ont., Cooke's hometown. They planned a parade and everything up there in Stirling. The only thing is, no one bothered to check with Cooke if he was actually coming.
-We noticed something really cool about HSBC Arena while tooling around on Google Maps:
-The HSBC logo is actually on the roof of the building.
19:35: Staal moves the puck up the slot and slides a pass to Tyler Kennedy on the right wing. Kennedy snaps off the feed but sends his wrister wide of the cage. The Kennedy-Staal-Cooke line has been outstanding so far.
19:25: Bob Errey successfully makes a segueway from buffalo wings to the fact that Tyler Kennedy is a wing.
19:01: Fleury stops shots by Thomas Vanek, Mike Grier and Henrik Tallinder.
18:32: Dupuis dishes a pass to Crosby on the left wing. Crosby gains the zone, surveys the situation and leaves a drop pass for Kunitz. Kunitz steps up and hammers a one-timer that beat Miller cleanly over the glove hand. FSN PIttsburgh gets a great look at Dupuis jumping through Miller's sight light of the shot. What a screen by Dupuis. Crosby and Dupuis get assists. Miller is pulled in favor of former Penguins goaltender Patrick Lalime. Miller rips off his gear and chucks it down the hall way in a temper tantrum his dopplegangler Billy Walsh of "Entourage" would be proud of.
-Miller and Walsh:
18:08: Things get worse for the Sabres as Hecht is nabbed for hoking Malkin. Crosby, Guerin, Kunitz, Gonchar and Malkin take the ice.
17:06: Gonchar chops a slapper from the right faceoff circle. Lalime fights it off.
16:25: Gonchar fires a one-timer form the slot that Kennedy deflects over the cage.
16:08: Hecht's penalty is killed. The Penguins looked good that two minutes. They attempted a lot of shots.
14:29: Dupuis tips a puck up the right wing to Kunitz. Kunitz races up the boards and snaps off a wrister to the far side which is punched away by Lalime's blocker.
13:31: Staal pushes a puck on net from left wing. Lalime makes the "save." Goligoski sneaks in deep and has a chance with the rebound but can't get a handle on it.
12:33: Tim Kennedy rips a wrister from the left faceoff circle. Fleury is well out of his crease and fights off the shot.
11:40: Dupuis blindly snaps off a wrister from the slot. Lalime makes the save. Crosby corrals the rebound and tries to go to his forehand but has it poked away by Lalime. Dupuis gets the rebound and blasts it wide of the cage.
11:22: Letang rips a wrister from the right faceoff circle that's wide.
10:33: Godard takes another penalty as he's nabbed for holding Adam Mair. Staal, Cooke, Gonchar and Orpik take the ice.
9:43: Toni Lydman snaps off a wrister from the left faceoff circle. Despite a nice screen by Gaustad, Fleury fights it off.
8:36: Craig Adams blocks a slapper by Tyler Myers on the right point. Adams collects the puck and distributs to Talbot who pushes the puck up ice one-on-one with Myers. Talbot (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) is able to get by Myers (6-foot-8, 222 pounds) a bit and pushes a backhander on net. Lalime holds that off.
8:33: Godard's penalty is killed. The Sabres had very little going on there.
8:17: Orpik tosses a wrister at the net. Lalime knocks it down high. Godard is in front digging for the rebound but can't push it by Lalime.
7:24: Montador snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Fleury fights it off.
7:14: Drew Stafford fires a wrister from the left faceoff circle. The puck is deflected and comes to Clarke MacArthur to the right of the cage. MacArthur is able to put into the crease behind an out of place Fleury. Jay McKee is Johnny-on-the-spot and kicks it out with his left skate. MacArthur kicks it back under McKee who then smothers the puck. Paul Gaustad then pushes McKee into the net using his stick and placing it in an an awkward position on McKee's body:
-Officials award the Sabres a penalty shot since McKee covered the puck in the crease. Stafford will take it. Following a video review to confirm the non-goal, Stafford takes the puck, weaves a bit in the slot, dekes a few times and clunks a wrister off the left left of Fleury and through his five hole. Fleury looked like he was absolutely frozen on that shot. That's a big goal for the Sabres who now are back in this game. The goal is unassisted obviously. Penguins 3-1.
6:51: Lalime gloves a slappery by Orpik from the left point.
6:42: The Penguins have responded to the Buffal goal well. Off a faceoff wing, Goligoski slides a pass to Cooke at the top of the slot. Cooke rockets a one-timer which is gloved nicely by Lalime.
6:20: Lalime gloves a slapper by Gonchar from the right point.
6:06: Fleury covers a puck shot in on from a rough angle on the left wing by Hecht.
5:44: Grier blocks a wrister by Letang from the top of the slot.
5:24: Tim Kennedy rips a wrister from the left faceoff circle far and wide.
5:05: And Drew Stafford has made this a one-goal game. MacArthur moves a pass off the right wing to Stafford in the slot. Stafford puts a wrister net. Fleury makes the save. Stafford collects the rebound, goes backhand to forehand and punches the puck behind Fleury on the stick side. What an effort by Stafford. The Penguins gave the Sabres way too much space to work with there. MacArthur and Tim Kennedy get assists. Penguins 3-2.
3:46: Staal is nabbed for tripping Hecht. Crosby, Cooke, Gonchar and Orpik take the ice.
3:17: Cooke blocks a slapper by Butler at the top of the slot. Crosby clears the rebound down ice.
2:48: Talbot and Adams move up on a two-on-one against Myers. Talbot elects to shoot but his stick fails him and falls to pieces. The puck actually slides in on net and Lalime makes a "save."
1:46: Staal's penalty is killed. That was a big two minutes for the Penguins.
1:16: Staal steals a puck on the left wing in the Sabres' zone. He plays it into the slot where Guerin re-directs it on net. Lalime fights it off.
0:41: Goligoski is spilled behind the Penguins' net by Gaustad.
0:32: Kunitz re-directs a shot/pass from Gonchar in the slot on net. Lalime makes the save.
0:19: Kunitz rockets a wrister from the right faceoff circle far and wide.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Sabres 2.
-Boy did things really open up for both teams that period. Lots of skating, lots of shots, lots of quality scoring chances.
-Amazing what a goatending chance can do for you. Miller was giving the Sabres nothing. Lalime comes in, makes some tough saves and it wakes his team up.
-The Staal-Cooke-Kennedy line continues to be outstanding.
-Stafford has responded well after being benched huh?
-There really hasn't been a great deal of chippiness.
-The Penguins have a 29-19 lead in shots.
-Stafford leads the game with five shots.
-Staal leads the Penguins with four.
-Myers leads the game with 16:36 of ic etime.
-Gonchar leads the Penguins with 16:26.
-The Penguins have a 20-15 lead faceoffs (57 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-Gaustad is 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Cooke and Adams each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:13: Cooke drives a slapper from the left wing. Lalime fights it off.
17:39: Grier chops a slapper from the right point. Goligoski kneels down to block it with his left knee. Goligoski is smarting after taking the shot and goes the bench in some discomfort.
16:10: Fleury fights off a wrister from the right wing. Vanek is there for a rebound but gets shoved onto Fleury by Orpik. Fleury is slow to recover.
15:34: Mair has a backhander hop off his stick and flutter on net. Fleury gloves it and gives a shove to Mike Grier.
14:07: Rupp knocks Hecht off the puck in front of the Sabres' bench with a solid body check.
13:33: Vanek air mails a slapper from the neutral zone. Fleury fights it off.
12:32: And this was only a matter of time. The Sabres have controlled this period and they eventually tie the game. And imagine this, it's Stafford who creates the scoring chance. He moves up the right wing, gets by Goligoski, moves towards the net and touches a soft pass into the slot. Gaustad is there, fights off a check from Cooke and backhands the puck by Fleury on the stick side. What was Goligoski doing on that play? His defense there was very Ryan Whitney-esque. Three unsanswered goals. Stafford and MacArthur get assists. Penguins 3, Sabres 3.
12:17: As FSN Pittsburgh comes back from commercial, Bob Errey shows us Gaustad leaving the ice in some discomfort following his goal. It looked like had something wrong with his right arm as he bumped fist with his teammates ont he bench with his left hand.
11:45: Errey mentions Gaustad has returned to the bench.
10:28: With the Sabres buzzing around the net, Fleury covers a loose puck near the cage. The Penguins just haven't been able to match the Sabres' hustle since the goaltending change.
9:55: Adams gets a little too aggressive in the corner on the right wing in the Sabres' zone as he hits Montador from behind. That's two minutes for boarding. Staal, Crosby, Gonchar and Orpik take the ice.
9:05: And just like that, the Sabres take thei first liead of the agme. Pominville controls the puck deep on the left wing. He dishes it to Connolly below the goal line. Pominville jumps off the boards, takes the puck back from Connolly and snaps of a wrister from the faceoff circle that nicks Fleury's glove hand shoulder and beats him on the far side. Again, the Penguins were just way too sluggish in their own zone. Connolly and Myere each get assists. Sabres 4, Penguins 3.
8:45: And the Penguins get a chance to tie this up as Montador hooks Malkin. Crosby, Gonchar, Guerin, Malkin and Kunitz take the ice.
8:21: Malkin circles in the left faceoff circle and snaps off a wrister which Lalime fights off.
7:52: Malkin dishes a pass to Kunitz in the left faceoff circle. Kunitz unloads a slapper.Lalime absorbs it. Kunitz then skates right in Lalime's grill and gives him some grief. A few Sabres take exception and clear out Kunitz.
7:42: Gonchar cracks a slapper from the right point. Lalime eats it up.
7:16: Hecht clears the puck down ice.
7:03: Cooke knocks down Tallinder with a questionable low hit behind the Sabres net. Cooke had his leg out on that hit. He's lucky he didn't get penalized.
6:53: Lalime fights of a wrister by Malkin coming off the right wing.
6:45: Montador's penalty is killed. The Penguins put plenty of puck on net but couldn't beat Lalime.
5:35: "LET'S-GO BUFF-A-LO!"
2:49: Gonchar hammers a slapper from the top of the slot. It hit something and is deflected high. Crosby is right there on the doorstep and tries to chip it by Lalime but no dice.
1:30: As Fleury is pulled for an extra attacker, Letang snaps off a wrister wide and far.
0:37: Guerin spings and blasts a wild slapper into a body from the left wing.
0:32: Malkin gets a nice chacne in the left faceoff circle and rips a wrister far and wide.
0:24: Gaustad and Staal are each sent off for slashing. Dan Bylsma calls a time out to get organized.
0:09: Malkin gets plastered behind the Buffalo net by Myers. Lalime covers a loose puck in the slot. The Sabres call a time time out to get things figured out.
0:00: Hecht gets the puck off the faceoff, works it up ice and eats the rest of hte clock. End of game. Sabres 4, Penguins 3.
-That might've been the worst loss of the season. The Penguins have everyone healthy. They're facing a team with some injury issues. Their leading scorer, Derek Roy is out. They start off flying and even chase one of the best goaltenders in the NHL early. Yet they allow the Sabres to rebound after a goatlending change. Buffalo just started to outwork the Sabres, chipped away at the lead and came away with an impressive victory.
-It would be one thing if this were a sloppy loss to a bad team like Toronto or Carolina. But this was against one of the teams the Penguins are battling at the top of the Eastern Conference.
-The Penguins simply couldn't match the Sabres' effort. The Penguins didn't dog it by any means. It's just that the Sabres played like a team fighting for a playoff seeding.
-You really can't blame the power play. The Penguins only got two chances with the man advantage and got plenty of quality shots on net. They just couldn't figure out Lalime.
-That said, how bigs was that first penalty kill by Buffalo? They were reeling after the Penguins' third goal. Miller was yanked. They created some momentum by holding the Penguins at bay that two minutes.
-Patrick Lalime did exactly what you want a backup goaltender to do in the circumstances he was placed in. He made some saves early and gave his team a chance to settle things down.
-Drew Stafford was clearly motivated. He's a guy the Sabres need to score goals. He hadn't in his previous 15 games. He was benched in Sunday's contest. He responded with a fantastic effort.
-Kris Letang has not been stellar as of late.
-Fleury wasn't outstanding, but not terrible. He probably could've made a better effort on the winning goal, but it's tough to pin this loss on him.
-The Penguins better get things figured out as they travel to New Jersey tomorrow.
-The Penguins actually had a 38-24 lead in shots.
-Stafford and Malkin led the game with five each.
-Adams and Godard were the only Penguins skaters who failed to record a shot.
-Gonchar led the game with 25:31 of ice time.
-Myers led Buffalo with 24:15.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 29-24 (55 percent).
-Crosby was 13 for 24 (59 percent).
-Gaustad was 11 for 19 (58 percent).
-Gaustad led the game with three blocked shots.
-Goligoski, Adams and Cooke led the Penguins with two each.