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NOTEBOOK: TERRIBLE EVENT ON SUNDAY NIGHT

Sunday, 02.10.2008 / 9:59 PM / News
By Brian Wheeler  - Sabres.com
Richard Zednik (photo: Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres' 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers was overshadowed on Sunday night by the terrifying events surrounding Panthers forward Richard Zednik.

In a scrum deep in the Sabres zone, Zednik was struck and cut by Olli Jokinen's left skate as Florida's captain was falling to the ice.  Zednik instantly fell to the ground holding his throat, but regained his footing before skating to the Panthers bench. 

Zednik was helped to the locker room by the training staff where he was stabilized and immediately taken to Buffalo General Hospital for surgery.   A trail of blood that extended from red line to red line marked Zednik's path to the bench.

"It was one of the worst things I've ever seen in hockey," said goaltender Ryan Miller.  "I'm just happy that stable is the word."

From his perch in the Sabres net, Miller had a full view of the incident.  He immediately began shouting for the officials to stop play when he saw the skate had done damage.

"I just kind of read the play and saw that we were going to get the puck, so my eyes just kind of stayed with it," a very somber Miller said.  "It looked like a Quentin Tarantino movie."

Following the contest, the Panthers chartered a private jet to fly Zednik's wife, Jessica, up from Florida, while assistant general manager Randy Sexton stayed by his bedside.

"I watched as he skated by and I knew it wasn't good," said head coach Lindy Ruff.  "First and foremost, my thoughts after that was praying that he would be ok."

The event held an eerie reminder of Clint Malarchuk's accident late in the 1988-89 season.

"When you see something like that, it isn't about playing anymore," said Ruff of the game.

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Patrick Kaleta jumped for joy after scoring the first goal of his NHL career four minutes into the second period.  On a two-on-two rush, the Buffalo, N.Y. native cut to the front of the net and redirected Adam Mair's shot between netminder Craig Anderson's pads. 

"I didn't even see it in the net; I just heard the buzzer go off," said Kaleta, who instantly dropped to the ice for a fist pump before launching himself against the glass.

He said the merrymaking was a completely spontaneous act.

"You never plan the celebration," said Kaleta.  "It just comes to you naturally."

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A wave of media crashed down on the Sabres public relations department in the press box six minutes before puck drop Sunday night.  The catalyst of the ruckus?  Ales Kotalik's name being announced as a scratch by the public-address announcer.  Kotalik became the fourth Sabres player to miss a start due to the flu.

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