A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sabres take first game 3-2

On Saturday morning afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres took a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final with a 3-2 win. The game was, as I expected it to be, very good. The game was not, as many "experts" expected it to be, a high scoring shootout.

Henrik Tallinder struck first at the 2:56 mark with a rebound chance that beat Ward. The way BFLO blog tells it, it was a gorgeous tic-tac-toe play, but it wasn't quite like that. Jochen Hecht had a good chance on a semi-break, but his shot sailed wide. JPom had a nice wrap chance denied. Tallinder came in undetected and didn't miss. On the play, Aaron Ward had a perfect chance to take Tallinder out of the play, but peeled off, leaving left winger Ray Whitney as the only man between Tallinder and Cam Ward. Ward had just slid from right post to left in order to stop JPom's chance, and didn't really have much hope of stopping Tallinder. For the rest of the period, Carolina pretty much controlled the tempo and kept most of the action in Buffalo's zone. They also drew two penalties, but they weren't able to convert either one of them.

At 12:11 of the first, the Canes took advantage of a Buffalo neutral zone turnover and tied it at one. Cory Stillman picked off a Sabres pass and dished to a streaking Rod Brind'Amour on the left side. Brindy did a fantastic job of delaying his shot, which pulled Miller to the near post. Brindy snapped a well placed shot from a tight angle over Miller's left shoulder and into the top right corner of the net. Stillman got the lone assist, but he also got his clock cleaned as Rory Fitzpatrick met him with a thunderous hit at the blue line just as he made the pass. The teams went to their respective rooms all tied and 1:22 remaining in a Buffalo power play.

Daniel Briere put the Sabres up for good at 9:41 by scoring a beauty of a goal. After a series of breakaway and odd-man chances were denied at both ends, the Sabres finally had one that worked. It was the result of some really amazing passing by the Swords. It all started when Ryan Miller stopped a Canes chance and sent the puck off the glass near the penalty bench. Taylor Pyatt picked it up, sent a long diagonal pass to JPom on the right side. JPom made a mirror image long diagonal pass to Briere, who ended up using the backhand to score a goal that looked eerily like the Brindy goal. Like Miller had done, Ward overcommitted to the left side, and the puck was perfectly placed under the corner where the crossbar and right post meet. Initially, Derek Roy was given credit for the primary assist, but he wasn't even on the ice, and the correction was made.

Buffalo clearly made adjustments in the second period, and they kept most of the action in the south end of the arena, just like the Canes did in the first. They went to the second intermission up a goal, but down a defenseman. I don't know how or when, but Teppo Numminen apparently suffered a "lower body injury" and wasn't seen at all in the second or third.

With 13:40 gone in the third frame, Jay McKee gave the Sabres a two-goal cushion by scoring a dandy of a goal that proved to be the game-winner. He had been in the box feeling shame for a holding infraction at 11:32. He was released from the box just in time to take a pass from Hecht. He skated into the right circle, waited for the traffic situation to be just right, and rifled one past Ward. I don't think Wardo ever saw it.

At 15:50, AWard took a holding penalty, and the Sabres started to sniff a blowout. However, it didn't really work that way. Crowd favorite Mike Commodore netted a shorthanded goal at 17:07. During the same shorthanded sequence, Brindy had a quality chance, and this one, from the most unlikely of candidates was good. It started out with Commy down low instead of running point. He threw the puck at the net from below the right circle, and it caromed off the side wall, took a funny bounce to the stick of Bret Hedican, who fed Commy down in the low slot. Commy then fired a shot that glanced off Toni Lydman's stick and in. Originally, Heddy was given the only assist, but later on Eric Staal was given a secondary assist. I had to watch the replay six times to understand why, and I still think it's kind of questionable, but it helped him extend his scoring streak to 11 games. The playoff scoring streak matches that of Jaro Jagr 10 years ago. Carolina pulled Ward for an extra attacker and had several good chances to tie it in the final minute, but Ryan Miller answered the bell every time. He certainly deserved the first star.

Overall, this was a great game. Obviously, I don't like the outcome, but the game was great. It was fast-paced, had a few momentum shifts, featured good d, great goaltending, good crisp passes, and no garbage. I expect this to be a very fun series. If game one is an indicator, we're in for a thrill ride.

No garbage. I wish I could say the same for the RBC Center parking lot. I enjoyed the company of several Sabres fans who provided Bill, the other Dave, and myself with a slab of an absolutely enormous Dagwood sandwich. Turns out they are from Niagara Falls, NY, and I was able to relate to them because of a brilliant bakery I've been to up there. Once I brought that up, it's like we had been friends forever. Over at the other blog, which I've cast aside like a "Canadian Ballet" dancer, I wrote about that bakery almost a year ago to the date. You can read that post by clicking here.

Anyway, I liked those dudes, and I met some other folks that seemed like nice people. It's also a well known fact that my best friend is a Sabres fan. I'm not a Sabre-hater, but there was a cluster of about 10 or 15 Buffalo cars who crashed our massive tailgate party and left a ridiculous mess in their wake. Cans, bottles, miscellaneous garbage. Amateurs. Amateurs. A veteran tailgater knows that you haul your own trash away ESPECIALLY when you are a visitor. I wasn't happy about that.

B-LIST CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS: 1. Kid Rock was sitting in one of the club level boxes. Late in the game, Erik Cole was seen in the same box. Hmmmm.


Miss # 12 said...

It was a pretty good game even though we lost infront of about 1000 Buffalo fans, who just about drove me crazy. From some pictures of you on previous posts, I saw you on the Jumbotron today at the game. I was in Section 225 and I did see Kid Rock and Erik Cole but didn't know that they were in the same box. Interesting...
And also saw Chuck Amato in one of the Club Level boxes too.
Hopefully there won't be as many obnoxious Buffalo, New Yorkers on Monday.


d-lee said...

Yup. That was me. Of course, like a doofus I turned and looked in the direction of the wrong camera. One of these days I'll learn my left from right.

I would say that we'll get a break from the Buffalonians on Monday since it's a weeknight, but it's not like they have jobs to go home to.

The Acid Queen said...

Caught yer on the 'tron too, from up in 326--and at least your Sabres fan experience was far better than everyone else's. Aside from the trash everywhere, there were fights, Sabres fans mowing over little kids and shoving other folks aside just so they could grab pint glasses and smash them on the pavement (and for no reason other than to simply be assy), and other wonderful examples of buffoonery.


d-lee said...

The dude with the sandwich said that he got punched in the bathroom. Several times.

While there's no excuse for trashing the parking lot and cussing out old ladies, there isn't any excuse for Canes fans to throw sucker punches at a dude who needs to pee.

Oskar S - Canes fan from Sweden said...

I agree on this beeing a great game! And I believe the Canes played the better of it. If they're capable of keeping up the same quality throughout this series I'm sure they'll win. Buffalo had the better luck and - of course - Miller behind the pipes.
Lets go Canes!

Miss # 12 said...

Yeah, I wasn't proud of the our fans acted at the game. As I was making my way from the back parking lot behind Carter-Finley, I noticed that the Sabres Fans didn't come alone or in pairs of two, they came in packs of about 10. I thought it couldn't get any worse.(hearing nothing but LETS GO BUFFALO on my treck to the door) But afterwards, a mix of obnoxious, and drunk Sabres Fans, along with drunk Canes Fans just makes a huge mess.

d-lee said...

Yeah. The people who trashed the parking lot were a very large group of Sabres fans congregated in the 6600 row of the West parking lot.
My favorable experiences were with folks who were not from that group.

While it would be fun to have a good rivalry, I hope there isn't any violence involved. However, I think that we may have seen the worst of it. The 2:00 start time and the extended tailgate party probably precipitated more drunkenness than we'll see for the remainder of the series. I'm sure people will be more civil if they are more sober.

I don't think Ray Whitney brought his A game on Saturday, and we should hope to see a better performance from him.

My game two prediction -- 4-3 Canes with goals by AWard, Weight, LaRose and Staal scoring for the Canes. Grier, Afenogenov and JPom for the Sabres.

ain't nothin STAAL'n us now.. StanleyCup'06 said...

good predictions =) i think that it's time for the adams family + larose to get some numbers posted.

speaking of ray whitney..
i was at practice today & now that i think of it.. i dont remember seeing him skating with the team.
justin williams also didnt skate. i asked cullen about j williams & he said that "he was just sore, but will be playing on monday."

me & my superstitions..
they didnt have the "wheres ray" before the game, so thats part of the reason why we lost ;)


by the way- i love reading your blog! it's one of my favorites =)

Bill Purdy said...

Dude, that sandwich was insane.

You're right, those Sabres fans we hung with post-game were really cool. I got the impression the one Sabres dude (the one wearing the old-school Sabres logo tee and blue furry buffalo hat) was sort of embarassed by the ugliness of his fellow fans & was just as pleased to chill with some pleasant Canes fans as we were to hang with him.

As for Chad LaRose... I've tried, I really have, but I'm just not seeing a quality NHL-level player there. Sure, he's got lots of "energy," but he's got two of the worst hands I've ever seen. It's one thing to create chances with your speed & verve, but chances don't mean anything if you can't convert them. And, sadly, Rosey can't seem to convert. I'd love to see your prediction come true, but I don't think it'll happen as long as LaRose is on that line.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Kid Rock and Erik Cole were in Karmonos' box.

Miss # 12 said...

Anonymous is probably right, now that I think about it.

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