-Greetings from Buffalo. We left Pittsburgh around 6 a.m. this morning and saw TONS of snow:
-We get to Western New York and it looks like this:
-So basically, we drove to Buffalo in February to get away from the snow.
The Penguins will dress Robert Bortuzzo today in place of Simon Despres to add some toughness to the lineup. The Sabres will likely dress John Scott, Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta. Bortuzzo has size and a willingness to mix it up physically.
-Marc-Andre Fleury gets another start. This will be the second time this season he has appeared in three consecutive games.
-We're interested to see how this Sabres team looks compared to past Sabres team we've seen in the past. The Sabres have always had a lineup of "nice" players. Solid, fleet 20-goal scorers. A bunch of guys you would see on second lines. But not a lot of size or toughness. They added Scott and Ott in the offseason to address that.
-Ryan Miller never seems to do well against the Penguins. The stats bear that out. All time against the Penguins, he has a 5-10-3 record with a 3.40 goals against average and .881 save percentage. And he never seems to do well against Sidney Crosby on any stage:
-Some sights around the barn. The Alumni Plazza off the side of First Niagara Arena:
-If you can imagine such a thing, the Sabres have a statue which doesnt' immortalize any Islanders:
-This is the French Connection, the Sabres' famed line from the 1970s comprised for French Canadian stars (left to right), Rene Robert, Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin.
-For the Hockey Day in America festivities, they have Sabres jerseys frozen in ice:
-Fans entering First Niagara Center:
-Ginger Fury. Jim Schoenfeld:
-Our favorite feature of this building. Old seats from the "Aud" (AKA Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) in the concourse:
-Craig Adams has a fan on the road:
-Red and black Randy Burridge:
-Another red and black attack. Rob Ray:
-Ex-Penguins scrub and Sabres All-Star Rene Robert:
-Jersey Foul of the Day: A yellow and purple Dave Taylor Kings jersey:
-This is an EN first. TWO Jerseys of the Day:. A rare Tom Barrasso Sabres:
-And an even rare Jason Woolley Penguins:
-The WiFi at First Niagara Center is slower than John Scott so our normal array of pregame photos will be delayed. Our apologies.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Zach Boychuk, Simon Despres and Dustin Jeffrey.
-The Sabres' starters are Cody Hodgson, Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, Christian Ehrhoff, Alexander Sulzer and Ryan Miller.
-Their scratches are T.J. Brennaon, Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrej Sekera.
-There are a TON of Penguins fans here today. Don't be surprised to hear healthy cheers for any of the Penguins' successes today.
19:25: The Penguins don't take long to strike. From the left wing corner, Kunitz slides a pass to Oprik at the left point. Orpik whacks a one-timer towards the cage. Pascal Dupuis is in front and re-directs the puck on net with the shaft of his stick. The puck sneaks by Miller an hits twine. Orpik and Kunitz get assists. A hearty cheer rains down. Penguins 1-0.
18:52: The Sabres dig their hole a little deeper. Tyler Myers is nabbed for holding xxx. Evgeni Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, James Neal and Paul Martin take the ice.
18:33: Another goal?!? Malkin whacks a slapper from center point towards the cage. It hits something and deflects to the right of the cage. Crosby is able to corral the puck and sneak it by the glove hand of a sprawling Miller. The Penguins are up by two already? Yikes. Malkin and Kunitz get assists. The visiting fans have another reason to cheer. Penguins 2-0.
16:08: This just keeps getting worse for the Sabres. Pominville is called for tripping Kunitz. Martin, Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Neal take the ice.
14:59: After a turnover by Neal on the right wing wall of the Sabres zone, Drew Stafford leads a rush up the other way on the left wing. As he approaches the Penguins' net, Martin closes in and deflects his shot attempt out of play with a stick on puck.
14:08: The Pominville minor is killed. Finally something positive for the Sabres.
13:28: Finally something even better for the Sabres. Christian Ehrhoff rockets a slapper from he left point. It his something en route to the net and is stopped by Fleury with a "THUD." Hodgson is in front, controls the rebound, fends off a stick check from the great Joe Vitale and rifles the puck by the glove of a sprawling Fleury. A simple and effective play by the Sabres. Ehrhoff gets the only assists. Penguins 2-1.
12:51: Glass and Adams each have a chance in tight but can't beat Miller.
12:22: Malkin and Cranberry native Mike Weber are sent off for minors. Malkin for slashing. Weber for interference. Four on four.
12:01: Sulzer lifts a wrister from the left circle. Miller fights it off.
11:42: Crosby makes a dazzling rush into the Sabre's zone. He dances by Sulzer in the slot and snaps off a quick wrister. Miller fights it off. Kunitz and Crosby each have chances at the rebound but can't get clean shots off.
10:25: Tyler Ennis lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
10:22: Malkin and Weber return to play.
7:15: After stagnant play for approximately three minutes, Neal gets a chance above the left circle and snaps off a wrister on net. Miller bats it away.
5:18: Letang is on with Engelland.
5:10: Engelland whacks a loose puck above the left circle. It hits a body in front.
4:13: Neal is called for interference against Kaleta in the neutral zone. Orpik, Martin, Glass and Adams take the ice.
3:10: As Adams plays without a stick, Hodgson and Vanek have chance in tight but can't get clean shots off. The Penguins clear the puck.
2:13: The Neal minor is killed. The Penguins did now allow a shot. A disgruntled Sabres fan bellows, "Nice power play Lindy!" at coach Lindy Ruff.
1:25: From the right circle, Malkin snaps off a pass to Crosby in the right circle. Crosby has a clean look at the net but Sulzer is able to break up the pass with his stick.
1:12: Malkin has a chance int eh slot and whistles a wrister from the slot. Miller gloves it as Weber stumbles to the ice. That shot was so nice it knocked Weber down.
0:00: End of period. As the horn blows, the Sabres are penalized. Robyn Regehr is called for interference against the great Joe Vitale. Penguins 2, Sabres 1.
-That was an odd period. The first six minutes or so were run and gun and the last 14 minute were safe, conservative no-chances hockey.
-What is it about Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby? Crosby owns this guy.
-Paul Martin had a strong period with helping the power play look composed and just keeping things clean in his own zone.
-Kris Letang looks a little less than 100 percent. Like he's almost hesitant.
-The Penguins lead in shots, 11-7.
-Crosby leads the game with three.
-Sulzer leads the Sabres with two.
-Letang leads the game with 9:01 of ice time.-
-Ehrhoff leads the Sabres with 8:13.
-Faceoffs are even, 12-12 (50 percent).
-Jochen Hecht is 6 for 8 (75 percent).
-Crosby is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Matt Niskanen and the great Joe Vitale each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins begin the period with two minute of power play time in fresh ice. Crosby, Malkin, Martin, Neal and Kuitz take the ice.
18:08: Playing hot potato with Malkin at the points, Letang tries to fire a one-timer from the left point but his stick breaks.
17:54: As the Penguins power play expires, Tyler Kennedy fires a slapper off from the high slot. Miller bodies it away with his right shoulder
17:30: Scoring change. Crosby's goal is now unassisted. Malkin and Kunitz lose their helpers.
17:07: Myers has a chance in tight but is fought off by Fleury.
16:36: Ennis wires a wrister from the left circle. Fleury sweaes the pads and eats the puck up.
15:46: Tanner Glass iw working on the right wing with Crosby and Kunitz. Dupuis is on the bench.
13:49: Letang snaps off a wrister from the left circle with traffi over the cage.
14:39: Letang pinches in a bit and that creates a chance for Marcus Foligno. Foligno races up the left wing boards and fires a wrister from the left circle.
12:35: Dupuis is back with Crosby and Kunitz.
12:21: The Sabres get a chance to tie the game as Crosby cross checks Pominville in the neutral zone. Not a smart penalty for Crosby to take. The announcement of Crosby being penalized brings a rare cheer from a mostly dead crowd. Glass, Martin, Orpik and Adams take the ice.
12:19: Brain dead play by Glass. On the faceoff, Glass tries to swat the puck with his hand. That's two minutes fo rthe nt Orpik, Cook eand Adams take the ice.
11:59: Ennis booms a slapper from center point. It hits off the end boards to the right of cage. Vanek tries to jam it in by Fleury glove hand but Fleury snags it.
11:17: Cooke gets to the puck at the right wing wall on in his own zone and clears it down ice.
10:44: The Sabres take full advantage of the situation. Ehrhoff snaps off shot/pass from the right point. Vanek is right in front of the cage and re-directs it with his stick behind Fleury. No defense for that, especially with a five-on-three. Tie game. The Sabres will have 25 seconds remaining a one-man advantage. Martin, Dupuis, Sutter and Letang take the ice. Ehrhoff and Ennis get assists. Penguins 2, Sabres 2.
9:56: Leopold flicks a rister on net from the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
9:15: Beau Bennett gets a shift with Neal and Malkin.
8:25: Kunitz hustles after a puck in the left wing corner, turns an flings a pass to Neal int he eft circle. Neal booms it on net. Miller fight it off.
8:10: Kunitz makes a rush to the net from the left circle. Pominville sort of swats at his glove. He's called for holding. Malkin, Crosby, Martin, Kunitz and Neal take the ice.
7:05: Neal drives a on times from the top of the slot. Kaleta blocks it and the rebound is cleared.
6:28: Letang controls the puck in the right circle and snaps off a wrister which rings off the near post.
6:10: The Pominville minor expires. A really weak effort for the Penguins. They got three low-quality shots on net during that power play.
2:58: After three minutes of stagnant play, Vanek chops a slap-pass from the left point tow the far side of the crease. Pominville is streaking towards the net hoping for a re-direct but is a moment off with his timing and misses the puck.
2:06: Cody McCormick wallops Sutter in front of the Sabres' bench. Sutter slowly recovers to his skates and rejoins play.
1:12: Dupuis chops a slapper from the left wing on net. Miller eats it up.
0:44: Off some slick passing, Hecht has a chance in the slot but pushes the puck wide.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Sabres 2.
-She's making her season debut folks:
-Erika, the EN yawn baby, is not entertained by this snoozer. Maybe it's the early start, but this has been a pretty bland game for both teams. There isn't much in the way of sustained attacks. The passing and the stick handling isn't crisp. The crowd, which is normally pretty energetic here, is flat.
-The Penguins' power play has looked awful after strking early. It's just doesn't seem like it's much of a threat.
-Thomas Vanek has probably been the most dominant player of the game. The puck just seems different when it comes off his stick compared to other players.
-Stupid penalties are hurting the Penguins once again. Crosby and Glass weren't very composed when they took their minors.
-The Penguins have a 22-16 lead in shots.
-Crosby lead the game with four shots.
-Ennis leads the Sabres with two.
-Letang leads the game with 17:31.
-Ehrhoff leads the Sabres with 15:56.
-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 24-20 (55 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-Hecht is 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Leopold leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Fire Fay Shero.
-Niskanen and the great Joe Vitale each lead the Penguins wth two.
18:44: Neal circles around the right circle, drags the puck by a defender and rips a wrister wide to the far side.
18:17: Bennett forces a turnover on the right wing boards and that leads to a scoring chance in the right circle for Kennedy. Kennedy snaps off a rising wrister which Miller eats up.
17:38: Glass and McCormick tie up at the Buffalo blue line and drop the gloves. They lock up. McCormick has an early advantage and lands a few blows. Glass' jersey comes u over his head. McCormick shows some good form and allows Glass to adjust his jersey. Once Glass does, they resume punching. They mostly wrestle while landing a few half punches. They tire out and Glass slaps McCormick on the ribs to almost "thank" him for a good fight. That seemed to be payback for McCormick's hit on Sutter in the second period.
16:55: Malkin is on with Crosby and Kunitz.
15:04: From the right circle, Stafford wires a wrister to the far side. Fleury kicks it out with his right skate.
14:56: After an Ennis backhander is denied by Fleury, Foligno has a chance in the slot but FLeury pokes a loose puck to the left wing corner.
14:43: The Sabres take a lead with a little luck. Nathan Gerbe leads aa rush up the right wing boards, gains the zone, pulls up on the half wall and snaps off a wrister. It hits off Orpik's legs and bounces right to Steve Ott who displays some great hand-eye coordination and taps the deflection by Fleury on the blocker side. What a fluky bounces. But at the same time, you have to admire Ott's concentration on that. Gerbe and Hecht get assists. Sabres 3-2.
13:02: Off a turnover, Dupuis pounds a slapper from the slot. Miller fights it off.
12:54: The Penguins strike back. Letang settles a bouncing puck at the left point, sneaks by a check on the left wall and flings a backhander to Dupuis in the right circle. Dupuis hammer a one-timer by Miller on the glove side and punches an emphatic fist in celebration. Letang and Kunitz get assists. Penguins 3, Sabres 3.
10:34: Bennett whips a wrister from the right circle on net. it hit sso mething flutters over the net.
9:43: Foligno, brother of Blue Jackets forward and former Senator Nick Foligno, crashes into Fleury and knocks the net off it's mooring. Someone named Foligno crashing into Fleury? We've officially seen everything:
7:55: Bennett lifts a wrister from the left circle. Miller bodies it away.
6:24: Another lack of disicpline by the Penguins. Ott knocks Kunitz to the ice with a nice shoulder check int he left wing corner. Kunitz respond with a little love tap on Ott's neck/back with his stick. That's an easy penalty. Kunitz is called for retaliating. Two minutes for slashing. Glass, Cooke, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
4:40: Erhoff flings a wrister from the left point. Fleury fight sit off. Ott has a chance with the rebound but Martin pokes it away. HUGE play by Martin.
4:25: Myers booms a slapper from the right pint over the cage.
4:16: Ennis snaps off a wrister from the left point as the Kunitz minor expires. It sails wide to the far side.
4:02: Adams flings a rister from the left circle. Miller fight sit off wit hhis glove.
3:08: WOOOOOOWWWWW! What a save!!! From the slot Malkin slides a pass to Crosby in the left circle. Crosby one-touches it to Neal in the left cirlce. Neal guns a one-timer with a seemingly wide-open net. Miller reads the play, stretches to his left and ROBS Neal with a glove hand. Wow. That might be the save of the season.
2:56: Hodgosn gets a step on the defens and whips a wrister on net from the left cirlce. Fleury swats it away with his glove.
2:04: Paul Martin to the rescue. Crosby batles off a check from the left wing corner and pusesh a pass to Martin above the left circle. Martin unloads a clunky wrister which appears to hit off the stick of Crosby and deflects by Miller's glove hand. Martin gets credit for the goal. Crosby and Dupuis get assists. The visiting fans roar in approval. Penguins 4-3.
0:47: Miller is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:25: Leopold has a wrister blocked by Letang. Letang pushes it up to Dupus on the right wing of the neutral zone. Dupuis flings it down ice hoping for the hat trick but the puck goes wide to the left of the net.
0:08: The Sabres call a time-out to get organized with an offensive zone faceoff.
0:00: End of game. Adams gets mized up with Ott in the Penguins' crease. Officials break it up. Penguins 4, Sabres 3.
-What an odd game. There was a fast, entertaining start, a bland middle and a fantastic ending.
-What an up and down game for the Penguins. They started out blazing. You can't ask for a better start than two goals in the first two minutes of a game. But the Sabres were able to build some momentum up by killing a Penguins' power play. They slowly chipped away and took a lead. Then the Penguins kind of took it over and reclaimed the win.
-This was hardly a perfect game for the Penguins. They took stupid penalties and didn't capitalized on their own power plays. We have a hard time imagining Dan Bylsma being happy with this game.
-The lack of discipline was perhaps the most glaring wort on this for the Penguins. They took some silly penalties again some of the best agitators in the NHL, Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta. If the stove is hot, don't touch.
-What a game by Pascal Dupuis. Remember how he didn't have any hands? He scored two pretty goals today.
-So... is everyone a Paul Martin fan yet? Or are there still some nit-pickers mad about a meaningless stat like plus/minus? You would be hard-pressed to find too may members of this franchise who have been more valuable to the team than Martin this season.
-Oh... Sidney Crosby is still a good player. He just produced against the Sabres. He now has 32 career points in 22 games against the Sabres.
-More solid but hardly spectacular play by Beau Bennett. That said, he's been put in a position where's not asked to do anything spectacular. In his role on the third line, the coaching staff wants to see if he can keep things simple. Thus far he has. He's been strong on the boards which is a must to play for Dan Bylsma. If he can maintain some consitency, he'll "graduate" to a regular role on the second line.
-Speaking of which, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal had their chances. They just couldn't bury them. Miller was spectacular at times today. His dazzling save on a Neal one-timer from the right circle will be a season highlight.
-Speaking of which, Miller was beyond despondent with the media after the game. He had trouble finishing sentences. He used a few vulgarities while describing the game.
On the game itself, he said:
“It’s just a [expletive] way to lose. I don’t understand … You’re guard has to be up at all time. You get back into the game … broken play to seal it for them. Not what we need to be doing right now.”
When asked which goal frustrated him the most, he responded:
“All of … just [expletive] losing at the end. It’s 3-3. Get to overtime. It’s 3-2. Make them come all the way down. We worked too hard.”
-Thomas Vanek is legit. The puck just came off his stick differently today compared to other players regardless if it was a shot or pass. He's tuned in right now.
-The Sabres' blue line was a little mess today. And that's to be expected with Andrej Sekera out of the lineup. That said, they didn't really give Miller much help in the defensive zone.
-Fleury had a strong game. It's hard to give him any grief over any of the goals Buffalo scored. He had a few iffy rebounds but nothing that hurt the team.