CANUCKS 2 @ SABRES 5
The road weary Vancouver Canucks continue their six-game, 11-day road trip tonight at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo as they try to spear the red-hot Sabres. The Canucks (3-1-0) are coming off another impassioned win as they came from behind to upend the Detroit Red Wings last night, 4-3 in overtime, while the Sabres (3-0-0) have yet to allow their opposition to score more than once in a game and are undefeated early on. Buffalo is looking a lot like the 2006-07 edition of themselves, that year the team won Presidents' Trophy with a league-best 113 points. Last season the Sabres, just like the Canucks, were on the outside looking in when it came time for the playoffs.
All eyes will be on Vancouver's third line of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen tonight as they combined to shoot down the Wings last night, but it's a former Buffalo player who could step up for the Canucks. Steve Bernier, who was acquired from the Sabres in the summer, will play in Buffalo for the first time since being dealt, he has one goal and one assist in four games so far this season.
Vancouver's keys to success tonight are fairly simple, they need to score early and often as Buffalo's defence has been ruthlessly stingy this season so the Canucks need to capitalize on every opportunity they have. The visitors also have to step it up on special teams, the Sabres have yet to allow a power play goal this season (15-for-15), while Vancouver's penalty kill started strong but has fizzled out these past two games. Special teams will most likely decide the winner of this game. Lastly, Vancouver's defencemen need to continue chipping in offensively, last night four Canucks d-men recorded points.
Vancouver holds a slight advantage in the all-times series against Buffalo, leading the Sabres 44-42-20. We'll see if they can increase that win count to 45 tonight.
A few line-up notes for the Canucks: Curtis Sanford gets his first start of the season tonight; defenceman Kevin Bieksa will sit out tonight's game but he skated this morning which is a positive step and as reported earlier today on Canucks.com, forward Kyle Wellwood has been placed on waivers.
20:00 - Happy Friday everyone, Derek along with you tonight. We're in for a good game this evening, a short rest for the Canucks either means they suffer a letdown or they're able to carry their momentum from last night's 4-3 overtime win over the Wings into this game against the Sabres. I see the latter happening, as long as the Canucks can hit the scoreboard for at least three goals. Predictions anyone?
19:33 - Jannik Hansen just tested Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller with Vancouver's first shot, he steered it aside with his blocker.
18:44 - 1-0 BUFFALO - POWER PLAY GOAL - That was quick. Just six seconds into Buffalo's first power play of the game, (Willie Mitchell was in the box for shooting the puck over the boards) Jaroslav Spacek ripped a one-timer from the point past Sanford. That was the Sabres' first shot of the game.
17:08 - Darcy Hordichuk and Buffalo forward Andrew Peters just went at it in a spirited fight. Both players landed some nice shots, they both started the fight with their helmets on and ended up without, they swung the rights, then the lefts, then headed to the box. The teams are now 4-on-4 for five minutes. Hopefully that will spark the Nucks.
15:11 - The Sabres are headed back on the power play as they just drew a penalty off a nice rush. Taylor Pyatt sits down for hooking, the Canucks were lucky Buffalo didn't double their lead on that play as Sanford made his first nice save of the game.
13:59 - Great save there by Sanford through a screen. Buffalo is applying the pressure while up four men to three.
12:45 - Pyatt is back on the ice and he almost evened the score as he stepped out of the box. He went in with Henrik Sedin on a two-on-one, but his shot was weak and it bounced wide of Miller.
11:30 - 2-0 BUFFALO - POWER PLAY GOAL - The Canucks can't stay out of the box and it just cost them again. With Shane O'Brien serving a four minute roughing penalty, Clarke MacArthur took control of a pass from Craig Rivet in Sanford's crease and he slipped it past the netminder. Willie Mitchell couldn't tie him up and the Sabres are now up two goals early.
11:30 - Bad news is that Buffalo is up by a pair, worse news is that the Sabres are still on the power play because O'Brien was serving a double minor.
8:58 - Shots are now 10-3 for Buffalo as they've taken control of this game. It's not as bad as in Washington on Monday, but the Canucks aren't playing their best hockey.
6:50 - 3-0 BUFFALO - Ales Kotalik just added insult to injury with another goal on Sanford. He blasted a shot from the point, it looked as if Sanford was able to handle it alright, but the puck squeaked through his pads somehow and when he shifted to his right is dribbled through his legs and over the line. Buffalo has three goals on only 12 shots in this opening period.
3:48 - There hasn't been much to cheer about for Canucks fans this period, but the third line almost potted a goal on their last rush. Hansen sent a tough shot from a weird angle towards Miller on the right side but he was more than ready for it. That was only Vancouver's fourth shot of the game as they're once again having trouble generating offence.
00:42 - Vancouver's top line finally got their feet moving and they're rewarded with a power play opportunity, Derek Roy will serve two minutes for hooking Daniel Sedin. No one has managed to score a power play goal on Buffalo yet this season, maybe the Canucks can be the first.
00:00 - Down 3-0 after one, things aren't looking good for Vancouver. Terrible is a good way to describe Vancouver so far in this one, but I'm an optimist and the Canucks already have two come-from-behind wins this season, so counting them out would be foolish. Shots are 14-6 for the Sabres heading into the second period.
19:47 - The Canucks are on the power play for another minute to start the middle frame.
18:05 - 3-1 BUFFALO - Ryan Kesler has the Canucks on the board. Kesler took a long pass from Alex Burrows and streaked into the Buffalo zone down the right side, he launched a shot that went off Buffalo defenceman Henrik Tallinder's stick and over Miller's shoulder. The comeback is on thanks to Kesler's third goal of the season.
16:32 - What a save by Sanford! Thomas Vanek just bolted in on a breakaway but Sanford out waited him and was able to keep the puck out. That should add to the momentum the Canucks were already building.
14:25 - Pavol Demitra just headed to Vancouver's bench in pain, he took a high stick to the face from a Sabre.
13:56 - The Canucks have a chance to pull within a goal as they head to the power play with Adam Mair having just stuck his knee out to take down Burrows.
11:30 - Easy penalty kill for Buffalo there, Vancouver couldn't even get set up in the Sabres' zone. They didn't record a shot on net, I don't know what's wrong but the power play unit doesn't look overly confident in this game. The Canucks are now 0-for-2 while up a man.
10:20 - Raymond and Demitra just had a great chance to score on a two-on-one rush. Demitra sailed down the right wing, fed the puck to Raymond who was skating down the middle, unfortunately Raymond misfired.
9:30 - 4-1 BUFFALO - Jaroslav Spacek's original shot was saved by Sanford, but he left a juicy rebound in the crease for Vanek who showed some finesse in roofing his sixth goal of the season. Some bad defensive coverage led to that goal as Mitchell didn't clear out Vanek when he had the chance.
6:22 - Kesler just stripped Vanek of the puck as he was trying to skate out of the Buffalo zone, he shot a knuckler at Miller but it went high and wide.
4:54 - Toni Lydman is off for hooking as the Canucks have a chance to once again make this a two-goal game. Their power play has struggled thus far, some good passing and getting pucks at the net will help them bulge the twine on Miller again.
4:00 - They're going to have to go t the replay to check that one. Raymond shot the puck from the blueline, Miller made the save but Demitra put the rebound high and seemingly in. It bounced out and the ref waived it off saying it hit the crossbar. Demitra and Kesler both threw their hands up in celebration.
2:54 - No goal, Demitra rang his shot off the post so the on-ice call was the right one. The Canucks are now a cloudy 2-for-25 on the power play this season.
00:15 - Vancouver just isn't getting the bounces tonight. A late rush almost gave Hansen his second goal of the season, heading down main street he got a nice pass from Burrows but just shot it wide.
00:00 - 4-1 Buffalo after forty minutes of play. Shots are 23-17 for the Sabres, the Canucks out shot them 11-9 in the second. As the intensity of this game picked up in the late stages of that period, Buffalo really got to the body and they are now ahead in hits with 18 to Vancouver's 12.
20:00 - Still no comments on the board tonight, everyone must be out living it up on this Friday night. Except me that is, I've got the pleasure of bringing you Vancouver's thrilling third period come back...hey, there's nothing wrong with being optimistic!
20:00 - Good to hear from you Qris, I'm running out of ways to describe Vancouver's play though. There are only so many ways to say not great.
20:00 - CanuckTillIDie, welcome to the conversation.
18:55 - Daniel Sedin just rifled a shot from the left hand boards, Miller saw it all the way and gloved it easily. That's only the second shot on net for Vancouver's top line this game, Danny has the other shot as well.
16:23 - The line juggling has begun by Alain Vigneault. The Sedins have been split up with Raymond replacing Daniel on the top-line.
14:54 - 4-2 BUFFALO - Mair went to hit Raymond on the left boards, he slipped past him, got the puck to Henrik behind the net, he fed Bernier in front and he scored Vancouver's second goal of the game and his first against his former team. A little life for the Canucks perhaps?
13:21 - Thanks for the suggestions CanuckTillIDie, but we're going to turn this game around, remember? haha And no worries iRock., I'm here for you.
12:12 - Sami Salo just about gave the puck away to Maxim Afinogenov at the Buffalo blueline, but he kept pace with the speedster and was able to drill him into the boards to knock him off the puck. The ref went to the ice as he was sandwiched between Afinogenov and the boards, does Salo get credited with two hits there?
11:14 - The teams are at four-on-four with Patrick Kaleta and Ryan Johnson both in the box, interference for Johnson, diving for Kaleta.
11:00 - Four-on-three Buffalo power play now as Burrows just took a seat beside Johnson for holding. He was also assessed a 10-minute misconduct for slamming the penalty box door.
9:01 - Raymond served the two minute minor Burrows, he's now back on the ice and the teams are at even strength.
7:59 - Some great pressre here from the Vancouver, they're playing desperate hockey trying to cut into Buffalo's lead. They had at least two good chances to score in that last flurry in the Sabres zone.
5:51 - 5-2 BUFFALO - The Canucks were pinching trying to get a goal and it cost them. Vanek got into a foot race for the puck with O'Brien along the left hand boards in the Vancouver zone, Vanek easily won that battle so O'Brien hooked him. With a penalty, and maybe penalty shot, about to be called, Vanek kept the puck and threw it out to Kotalik who fired it past Sanford for his fourth goal of the season. Puke.
3:10 - All that's left to ponder in this game is whether or not the Canucks will crack 25 shots, they have 24 right now so odds are good. Sorry, I'm just trying to keep this interesting.
1:31 - O'Brien just drilled a shot into Miller's chest. That's 25 shots for Vancouver. I lose.
00:28 - I like the idea of that support group Qris, count me in. There were certainly more positives in this game than Monday night against Washington, but a loss is a loss is a loss.
00:00 - That's all she wrote in Buffalo. I don't want to talk about it.
FINAL SCORE: 5-2 BUFFALO