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10 things you should know about the Sabres-Islanders game

1. The Islanders absolutely flummoxed the Sabres for most of the first two minutes and then some of the second period, threatening to tie the game at 1 until Adam Mair gobbled up Maxim Afinogenov's appetizing rebound at 2:21.

2. One of Patrick Lalime's best saves came five minutes into the second period, the game still in doubt, when he windmilled his right arm to deflect Jeff Tambellini's labeled shot from a stride below the left faceoff dot.

3. Thomas Vanek's shortie to give the Sabres a 3-0 lead was his first at any level of hockey, he said after the game, and came during 2:59 of penalty-killing time for an offensive star Lindy Ruff has vowed to make the best two-way player in the NHL.

4. Dan Paille's two assists were things of beauty, a cross-crease platter to Vanek for a shorthanded tap-in and a seeing-eye pass to Clarke MacArthur for a chip-in in the third.

5. Concerned about Adam Mair's still-recovering knee, Craig Rivet skated from Manhattan to separate Nate Thompson from his confrontation with Mair, then proceeded to pound Sean Bergenheim while Patrick Kaleta put a helmetless Brendan Witt head-first to the ice and Mair took a swing at Thompson while the Isle was being held back by the linesman — a hat trick of nastiness the likes of which Sabre fans have rarely seen in recent years, if ever.

6. The linesman shoveled up a good measure of Witt's blood after Kaleta WWF-ed the Islander to the ice, an apt metaphor for the game itself.

7. In an officiating mess of epic proportions after the line brawl, with mass confusion over who should be in the box and who should be in the lockerroom, the Islander official scorer finally lost it, Robert Esche style.

8. When Vanek chipped a bouncing puck off Joey MacDonald's backside two feet inside the far corner of the net, referee Steve Kozari didn't see it, the goal judge didn't see it, Governor Paterson didn't see it, but video replay did.

9. Ten seconds after that, Andrew Peters roared over the Islander line and blasted a slap shot from 57 feet on MacDonald, an easy save — of course prompting the goal judge to turn the red light on, and leave it on.

10. Mike Comrie sat down in the penalty box after taking a slashing penalty in the final minute of the second period, put a white towel on his stick and surrendered, as good a topper as any on a very strange, very entertaining afternoon delight of Columbus Day Sabres hockey.

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By Mark Zampogna, LGS Featured Columnist
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