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Sabres can't capitalize on quick start

Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 10:52 PM / THE AFTERMATH
By Kevin Snow  - (@kwsnow)
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Live from the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo! Welcome to our first Buffalo Sabres live game blog of the season. Be sure to check in with us every game this season for your complete in-game Sabres coverage. If you miss anything, we invite you to visit after the game for an enhanced version of the blog complete with highlights, interviews and more.

Let’s take a look at some of the storylines heading into tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning:
  • Brad Boyes will become the 20th player in NHL history to play in his 500th consecutive game tonight. He joins Craig Ramsay as just the second player to reach this milestone in a Sabres uniform.
  • Tonight’s game kicks off a season-high five-game homestand for Buffalo. Seven of the team’s next nine games will take place at the FNC.
  • Matt Ellis is expected to make his season debut on a line with Boyes and Cody McCormick
  • Buffalo has killed 20/22 (91%) penalties this season.
  • Six different Lightning d-men have scored a goal this season, the most on any team in the NHL.
  • Tampa has outscored their opponents by a combined score of 7-1 in their past two games.
  • Bolts netminder Mathieu Garon has allowed just one goal in his last 120 minutes of action.
Mike Weber, Jochen Hecht and Tyler Ennis scratched for the Sabres.

Sabres starters: Leino-Roy-Stafford; Ehrhoff-Sekera; Ryan Miller between the pipes.

Tampa going with Saturday's winner Mathieu Garon again in net. Thompson/Hall/Pyatt starting up front; Brewer and Hedman on the blueline.

Tonight's pre-game on-ice flag bearers are representing SABAH.

Another solid anthem performance by Mr. Doug Allen. It's time to drop the puck here at the FNC! Tonight's game is live across the US and Canada on Versus/TSN2

Kaleta is on fire early. After nearly stapling Brett Clark to the end boards, he almost comes to blows with Lecavalier at center ice.

1-0 BUF: Vanek pickpockets Brewer at the Tampa blueline, and then goes backhand five-hole on Garon to get the Sabres on the board early. (1:56)

BUF 2-0: The Matt Ellis effect is felt early! He sets up Brad Boyes in front with some great hustle to dig up the loose puck behind the Bolts net. That's Boyes' first goal of the season, and the also first points of the year for Ellis and McCormick. (2:31)

Buffalo's plan was to get pucks at the Tampa net, and they are doing that in waves so far. The shots are 7-3 Sabres, with the majority of play spent in the Tampa end.

After Adam unloads a wrist shot wide of the Lightning net, Vanek gets called for hooking to send Tampa to the first PP of the night.

2-1: A strong forecheck by St. Louis on Myers forces a turnover behind the Sabres net, and Lecavalier finishes off the play on his second shot all alone in front of Miller. (13:03)

A hearty "THANK YOU" to Sgt. Jeremy Allsop, tonight's TIckets for Troops recipient. Nice to see Sabres fans finally showing the recognition these men and women deserve.

Downie and Kaleta go off for fighting, after a tussle just inside the Sabres blueline.

Lecavalier almost evens the score as he's set up all alone at the right faceoff circle by St. Louis. Not the pair of guys you want roaming free in the offensive zone all night long.

2-2: Marc-Andre Bergeron works the puck down low, then banks a shot off Ehrhoff's skate that eludes the unsuspecting Miller.

Correction -- Tampa goal scored by Nate Thompson. (19:00)

End of the 1st -- we're all even at 2-2. Buffalo holds a 15-10 edge in shots. Lecavalier leads both teams with 4 shots on goal.

The second period is underway. The Roy line is out there for Buffalo.

I followed through on my hit on Lecavalier, so I wasn't surprised by the fight. I don't know if you call it retribution, but it's just a player standing up for a teammate. Malone asked if I wanted to fight then, or wait until the next shift. - Robyn Regehr
Robyn Regehr just blew up Lecavalier with a good old fashioned, bone-crunching hip check right in front of the Sabres bench. The thud could probably be heard all the way to Depew!

Not sure what Garon's pads are made of, but those are some big rebounds that he keeps giving up. Not surprised to see the Sabres are shooting from all over the place.

Regehr and Malone square off in an abbreviated bout inside the Sabres zone. You knew that was coming at some point tonight.

3-2 TB: Another deflected shot gives Tampa the lead. Matt Gilroy's shot from the half wall hits Gaustad's stick and the confused puck finds its way through Miller's legs.(4:42)

Thomas Vanek Interview
Vanek gets hooked by Hedman just as he's about to get a shot off, with many referees in the crowd hoping for a penalty shot. Sabres on the PP.

Stafford hauls down Moore as he's cutting to the Sabres net. It's 4-on-4 for the next 15 seconds.

After a back-and-forth first period, the two teams have combined for just 8 shots so far in the second.

After picking up a loose puck at his own blueline, Vanek unloads a heavy slap shot that very well could've gone through the safety netting.

The "Livin' on a Prayer/Let's Go Buffalo" organ medley is always a classic here at the FNC.

Last minute of play...

Nate Thompson just misses a late shot as the buzzer sounds. The Lightning head to the dressing room with a 3-2 lead after 2 periods of play. Sabres are outshot 7-6, but still hold a 22-16 advantage on the night.

Sabres ahead 21-14 in faceoffs so far. Pominville (6-2) and Roy (8-2) are a combined 14-4 on the night.

Vanek, Lecavalier and Stamkos each have a game-high 4 shots on goal.

Sabres lead the hit parade 14-11: Stafford and McCormick lead the way with three apiece.

Third period is underway. Buffalo is 0-2-0 when trailing after 2 periods this season; the Lightning are 3-0-0 when leading after 2.

McCormick called for goaltender interference. Tough to understand that one, as Garon was outside the blue ice when contact was made.

After watching replay, it was the Lightning defender that bumped into Garon.

Purcell fires wide, just before the McCormick penalty comes to an end.

11 mins remaining in the 3rd.

Great pressure by Gaustad/Gerbe/Kaleta almost results in a goal, but the puck was fired just wide of the goal.

Huge ovation for Pat LaFontaine when he's introduced to draw tonight's 50/50 winner. But no applause from me, because he didn't call my digits.

Vanek almost gets sprung free for another breakaway. He's been able to get in behind the Lightning D all night long.

Downie with the late shot on Miller after the whistle. The Sabres now gather en masse around him to explain the finer points of hockey etiquette.

Lecavalier goes to the box for hooking after he thwarts Adam's scoring chance in the slot. Sabres on the PP with 5:53 left in the 3rd.

Ehrhoff goes end to end on the rush but buries his wrist shot in Garon's crest after slicing through the defense.

Lightning working a tight box formation down low, making it difficult for Sabres to get pucks to the net on the PP

Adam jams away at the loose puck in the crease but somehow Garon keeps it out.

Tampa called for icing with 2:32 left in the 3rd

I didn't think he had enough time to get to that side. I just need to make some adjustments next time - Ryan Miller on Malone's late breakaway goal
Ryan Malone cashes in on a breakaway with 1:23 left to give the Bolts a 2-goal lead.

4-3: Gaustad feeds Gerbe in front, and he uncorks a 40-footer to get the Sabres within a goal -- with 49.2 seconds on the clock.

Tampa ices the puck with 23.3 seconds left. Ryan Miller out for the extra attacker.

A late surge comes up empty. Tampa wins the game 4-3.