I'm going to keep this short and sweet tonight because well...it was a weird game. Before the game started I said "Buffalo needed two points and it didn't matter how they got them", well they didn't let me down. Buffalo earned a 4-3 victory but I'm not sure what to say about how they won it.
Buffalo never trailed in the game but they struggled to hold a lead all night. Remember the game "Pig" in basketball? The game when one person would shoot and than you had to make the same shot or you earned a letter. Well, for two periods tonight it was like a game of pig. Every time the Sabres scored to take a one goal lead, the Lightning answered right back almost immediately.
That wasn't even the strangest part of the game...Andrew Peters and Patrck Kaleta were out of the lineup and yet their were three seperate altercations. It's not that big of a surprise to see Paul Gaustad and Adam Mair get into scraps but when Jochen Hecht and Vincent Lecavalier fought I almost fell out of my chair. To be fair, I have seen Lecavalier fight before but I'm not sure I have ever seen Jochen drop the gloves. If anything good came from the fights, it showed the team played with passion. I never once questioned the effort tonight and that is a good sign.
By now everyone has heard about the little mini-fued betweeen Ryan Miller and Head Coach Lindy Ruff and if you haven't...where have you been? I was expecting Miller to come out with a chip on his shoulder and try to prove Lindy Ruff wrong but for two periods I thought he was average at best. He seemed to be fighting the puck and often found himself out of position. However, after Buffalo poured it on early in the third period and took a 4-3 lead Miller was outstanding. Tampa had the last eight shots of the game and many of them were good opportunities but Miller turned them all away. He was especially good when Tampa was on the power play after Jochen Hecht went to the box for high-sticking.
Everyone was anxious to see what Nathan Gerbe would do in his NHL debut and he was pretty good. He took a rookie penalty early in the game, hooking a Tampa player while in the offensive zone but he rebounded nicely. He played over 15 minutes and finished as a plus two with four shots on goal. There were even some flashes of brilliance including a back-handed scoring chance that was foiled by Tampa Goalie Mike Smith.
Stars of the Game
Not exactly the three starts they announce in the arena but just some players that stood out tonight.
- Drew Stafford scored the games first goal when he cashed in a monster rebound by Mike Smith. Stafford also had two assists to give him a three point night.
- Derek Roy...scored a goal and had another that was eventually given to Vanek because he tipped it in front.
- Jochen Hecht had a a goal and a fight and missed the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" by an assist.
Harry Neale Quote of the Game
Another slow night for Neale but he through di give us a one-liner near the end of the game. I honestly forget what he was referencing but he at least made me smile.
"Never ask a juggler which ball is the most important"
I know...not his best work but hey, the Sabres got two points. That should be enough to celebrate on a Saturday night.
There were only three of us in the Game Thread but we managed to put out a total of 108 comments. Thanks to williamherbert and stopplayinglikesissies for keeping me entertained tonight.
Don't forget about the SPG Game and an opportunity to win prizes.