Two days ago, Tim Connolly didn't know where he would be playing hockey that night. He found out Wednesday morning that he would remain with the Sabres after signing a two year $9 million contract. Tonight he started to earn on that new deal by scoring two goals to lead the Sabres to a 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Connolly got the Sabres on the board early on a beautiful deflection of a Jaro Spacek pass from the point. He addeda nother goal on the power play that put the Sabres ahead 3-0 in the second period.
The tone of this game was set early in the second period. Patrick Kaleta put a hit on Ken Klee and drew a response from a couple of Coyotes and Keith Yandle ended up taking a penalty. With the Sabres on the power play Ken Klee put a hard check on Maxim Afinogenov that drew a big response from Paul Gaustad and Craig Rivet. Many fans have been calling for the Sabres to stand up to the opponent and tonight that did just that.
Phoenix scored a third period power play goal and made it interesting for a bit but they seemed to be more concerned with getting retribution for what they thought were cheap hits by Patrick Kaleta. The war of words spilled over to the end of the game as well. Shane Doan was jawing with Thomas Vanek (no pun intended) about the hits and when the game completed the two teams met at center ice. Nothing happened between the teams and both teams skated off without incident.
Patty Almost Perfect
It was the second consecutive game that Patrick Lalime allowed a late goal that erased a would-be shutout. Lalime made plenty of great saves and seems to be really confident right now.
The most notable difference in his game is speed. In the first couple of games he seemed slow to react and his lateral movement was not very good. Somehow he has been able to completely reverse that trend. He was all over the crease today and made a couple of huge saves on cross ice passes.
Here a Goal, There a Goal, Everywhere a Goal
Seven days ago the Sabres were shutout 2-0 by the NY Islanders. Before that they scored one against Carolina and two against Anaheim. A total of three goals in three games but now they have scored 10 goals in two games since the trade deadline.
What is the difference in their game? Who knows? Even Lindy Ruff said in his post-game press conference (I'm paraphrasing) "The goals are going in, I'm not sure why. We aren't doing anything differently but we are finding holes". If Lindy Ruff doesn't know why the team is scoring, I'm not going to try to figure it out.
Once again the Sabres power play was outstanding. They scored three power play goals tonight including a 5-on-3 goal late in the third. The Sabres finished the game 3-for-6 on the power play and it was a power play goal by Tim Connolly in the second that gave the Sabres a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Buffalo finally allowed a power play goal against tonight. Matthew Lombardi made an amazing move and scored the Coyotes only goal of the game about half way through the third period.
Breaking the Slump
Just a quick not to add to the recap. Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly have all been struggling a bit lately and they all scored goals tonight.
These threads have become more and more fun as the season goes on. I just want to continue to thank everyone that comes in and chats during the games.
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The Sabres are right back at it tomorrow night. They travel to Ottawa to take on the hated Sens. You all know my hatred of the Sens and to make matters worse...The Sabres haven't played well against Ottawa this season. It should be a fun game and you can bet that I'll be in rare form on Saturday night.