I'm going to try something different and if people like it maybe I'll do it again in the future. Live updates to tonight's Sabres game...highlighting key plays and my thoughts as the game is going on. I would love to hear feedback, so please leave comments. Enjoy...
10:14 p.m. EST: And that's it! Not the prettiest ending, but the Sabres hold on. The Isles pour lots of pressure on Buffalo following the Robitaille penalty, with Ricky D. on the bench, and have a few chances. Really nerve-racking for the Buffalo faithful. But the game is over. That's it for me. Hope you enjoyed this. See Garth's blog for complete post-game reaction.
10:10 p.m. EST: How quickly this game works. Less than 10 minutes ago, the Isles successfully killed off the Zednik penalty, but now they've shot themselves in the foot - probably for good this time. Robitaille with the trip and he's off to the box with a mere 1:34 left in the game. After the call, some shameful fans throw debris on the ice. But we're about to get back under way here... Not over by any means, but looking good for Buffalo.
9:58 p.m. EST: Oh my, oh my! Richard Zednik just took a penalty with 7:25 to go. NOT what you want to do when you're behind a goal in your first home game of the playoffs and you're playing one of the most potent offensive teams in the NHL. If the Sabres cash in here, the Isles may be ice.
9:47 p.m. EST: 12 to go in the third period. Still 3-2 BUF. Some good action both ways. Each team seems to sustain pressure for a few minutes, then it goes the other way. Entertaining if nothing else. My 4-2 prediction doesn't seem so far off right now?? (Gasp.)
9:20 p.m. EST: Mr. Canada answers the bell for his team with eight seconds left in the 2nd and cuts the Sabres lead to 3-2. That, from a Sabre perspective, just CANNOT happen. Laxadaisical clearing attempts, careless play...just can't happen in the playoffs. These guys need to have 100% effort on the ice at all times. NO COASTING! That's the only way the Isles have a chance to beat us. Hopefully Buffalo learns from this. Should be a fun third.
9:07 p.m. EST: Mr. 5 Million Dollar Man Strikes! Danny Briere. About time. 5-on-3 goal. Scored it top shelf ... where else?
8:59 p.m. EST: Only took the Isles a minute to respond. These guys aren't going down without a fight. Hunter gets the goal. Miller needed some help from the d-man and didn't get it. 2-1 now. Halfway through the second.
8:57 p.m. EST: My hunch was wrong. It's a goal! Sabres 2, Islanders 0.
8:53 p.m. EST: Play's under review here. Vanek may have scored on his famous wraparound move. I didn't see him score on the initial play. On the replays I guess it could go either way. My hunch though is that this is inconclusive.
8:45 p.m. EST: ...Adam...Mair??? He delivers a crushing blow on one end of the ice, then skates down and fires a one-timer from Chris Druuury past Ricky D. 1-0 Good Guys.
8:20 p.m. EST: First period is done. A wild affair so far. Some BIG hits, coast-to-coast action, great scoring chances and even greater saves from Millsey and DiP. From Buffalo's perspective, it will do for period one, especially not allowing the Islanders to score early at home from all that emotion they're playing on, but I still expect better. I'm going to grab some food. More analysis in the second.
8:09 p.m. EST: It's all Islanders lately. After Satan hit the post on their first powerplay, they just finished up another PP, and were ALL over Buffalo, but Ryan Miller made 3-4 amazing saves to keep us scoreless. Sabres just holding on. They need to pick it up. 6 mins left in the 1st.
7:56 p.m. EST: Not much out of that first powerplay. Hecht just hauled a man down and he's off to the box, so now the Isles get the extra man. That first goal on the PP here could be huge for NY, especially in front of their home crowd and since Buffalo has missed out on a lot of chances offensively. About 11:30 to go in the first.
7:51 p.m. EST: Sabres are out of the gate buzzing. Miller's made some timely saves already & DiPietro has looked great in the other end so far, but it's early. Isles just took a penalty. Let's see this PP in action...
7:43 p.m. EST: And we're under way. Not much in the early going, but this crowd is loud. I'm impressed. Also, before I forget, that anthem singer can really hold a note! But where's the Canadian anthem? Chalk up a point for Buffalo. My next update will come when something noteworthy happens.
7:30 p.m. EST: The puck's about to drop and I must admit I have some butterflies! This is a pretty big game. One last chance for a pregame prediction. Knowing this team the way I do, I see them coming out strong tonight. Last game was a wake-up call. 4-2 Sabres..empty netter at the end.
7:17 p.m. EST: MSG just panned a live shot of the Coliseum. More than 2/3rds empty. It's still a little early of course, but I'm starting to wonder about these fans. Maybe not as crazy as ours. We'll find out in about 15 minutes.