Buffalo, NY (LGS) -- It's Post-Game with a twist. Mark Zampogna takes you through Buffalo's 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in LGS.com's "POSTGAME POWER PLAY" ... a two-minute read on the good old hockey game!
Just the Facts
In a weird game complete with a puck going in off a goaltender’s body from behind the goal line, and a shorthanded goal with a team two men down, the result is still what fans have come to expect as a matter of normalcy: a win for the Buffalo Sabres, their seventh in a row. Thomas Vanek and Jaroslav Spacek score third-period goals to break a 3-3 tie, but the Sabres have to hold on after Mike Commodore counts shorthanded times two with a little over a minute to go. Jason Pominville, Dmitri Kalinin and Maxim Afinogenov also score. Buffalo's win is its 12th straight in the regular season dating back to last April, setting a new franchise record.
The Big Picture
The Hurricanes come into town with three wins in a row and designs on making a statement. The Sabres are off their game and out of synch but still make a statement of their own: we are better. Is there much doubt that these two teams are on a collision course for next May?
mild | MEDIUM | hot | suicidal
For the first time, it seems like October Hockey.
Thomas Vanek forces The Bod to grab some rod and take a penalty for holding the stick, giving the Sabres a two-man advantage with two minutes to go and a two-goal lead.
Mike Commodore makes it a game again anyway.
Thomas Vanek (goal, assist). One-timer from the left edge of the right circle on the power play gives Buffalo a 4-3 lead in the third period. It’s all about emotion now for the Austrian sophomore. He’s gnawing the mouthguard, getting pissed at missed chances and generally showing fans a part of his game he never displayed as a freshman: determination. Like most of the Buffalo area, a light has come on for Vanek.
Toni Lydman. Lydman’s stone-cold giveaway early in the game ticks the stick of Eric Staal and lands on the blade of Scott Walker, who blasts the puck over the helpless left glove of Ryan Miller.
Jochen Hecht (assist). With eight to go, Hecht makes an extraordinary play, stickhandling the puck while lying on the ice near the blue line in his own zone and sending a short pass to Daniel Briere, who gets tripped. Hecht’s little play leads to one big play by Thomas Vanek and a 4-3 lead on the ensuing power play. Hecht earns an official assist on Jason Pominville’s first-period goal when he dishes a sweet backhand saucer pass that Pommer plays on the second bounce, and it’s a 1-1 hockey game. Postgame Power Play Three Stars: 1. Thomas Vanek 2. Jason Pominville (goal, assist) 3. Scott Walker (goal) (Official stars at right)
Jaroslav Spacek one-times a shot over the waving glove hand of Cam Ward from the blue line with four and a half minutes to go for a 5-3 Sabre lead. It will turn out to be the game-winner.
In the second period, the Canes have taken a 2-1 lead on Eric Staal’s fluky goal that’s kicked in by the right skate Henrik Tallinder as he does the splits falling to the ice. When Derek Roy is called for diving, the game seems to have arrived at a tipping point. It becomes a turning point when Ryan Miller slides on his knees to his left and swallows up Anton Babchuk’s rising shot, then Dmitri Kalinin skates down the left wing and half-slaps one off the crossbar. A minute later, it’s 3-2 Sabres on a Maxim Afinogenov goal.
On the Hot Seat
Teppo Numminen and his 38-year-old groin, which he tweaked against Philly, forcing him to miss practice on Thursday. Teppo is fine (20 minutes of ice time, plus-1), providing the biggest hit of the night and flashing some speed when he escapes the penalty box, dangles in on goal and chips the puck over the Carolina net. He does uncharacteristically turn the puck over twice in a row early in the second period and take a hooking penalty that leads to a two-man advantage that the Canes cash for a 2-1 lead. Verdict: He’s off the hot seat. Honestly, he was never on it! Who or what else was I going to pick?!
The Burning Question
Is high to the glove side becoming Ryan Miller’s Achilles’ heel?
Crunching the Numbers
27 - Seconds off the opening faceoff of the game for Eric Staal’s breakway, and Ryan Miller’s left glove save, to indicate this is going to be a weird night
6-2-1-1 - Sabres’ record the past three seasons, including the playoffs, in the game after they win by at least five goals
54 - Winning percentage for the Sabres on faceoffs
1 - Surprising stat
"There are a lot of guys in that room who aren’t happy." – Lindy Ruff on the mood of his team after committing many turnovers and allowing a late goal
In the Buffalo Wings
Logical start for Marty Biron, second game in as many nights, on the road after a lackluster performance at home. Anyone betting against eight?