The “Animal House” clip of John Belushi (Over!! Nothing is over until WE decide it is!!) and the strains of Pearl Jam’s “I’m Still Alive” raged overhead as the puck was dropped for tonight’s Sabres/Devils game.
And why not? After being left for dead just a few days ago, the Sabres headed into the game in control of their playoff destiny. Despite being four points behind the eighth placed Rangers and two back of ninth place Florida, the games in hand that they have over New York and Florida combined with tiebreaking rules gave the Sabres the edge amongst them.
And so the stage was set for tonight’s match featuring a reeling Devils club and the Buffalo side on a roll with just an overtime loss blemishing their last five games.
So what happens? The Devils edge the Sabres 3-2 by playing classic New Jersey hockey for two periods, then holding off a furious Sabres charge as the game wound down.
The Sabres fell behind within the first six minutes of the game on a pair of Devil goals by David Clarkson and Zach Parise. Jamie Langenbrunner would add another near the seven minute mark of the second period and from then on the Devils went into their shutdown mode.
If you’ve been a follower of the NHLyou know what I’m referring to…the kind of game which makes it seem as if the guys in red and black have about seven or eight guys on the ice whenever Buffalo has the puck. Constantly harassing the man bringing the puck up ice, allowing little room for shots coming from the blue line to get through. It had the makings of an ugly rout of the blue and gold on this night.
Then came the final stanza…..
It started in bizarre fashion with Michael Tellqvist starting the game in net. According to both Miller and Lindy Ruff it was a move “to shake things up a bit, get something going” and unrelated to any physical problem Miller may have.
It may have worked, as the Sabres scored goals coming from Jochen Hecht and Clarke McArthur to draw within one with under four minutes to play. And in the game’s final minutes it was all Sabres. Derek Roy missed a gigantic opportunity with about two minutes go, missing from point blank range directly in front of the net. And when the Devils were called for delay of game with a half minute to go, there was a last ditch six on four opportunity for Buffalo. But the Devils won the faceoffs and the final score stood.
Afterwards, Ruff attributed some of the team’s success to shortening the bench a bit. “When we got down to three lines, we got a little more rhythm”. And concerning Miller on the bench he also added that ” we have seven games in eleven nights.” alluding to giving Miller a little rest.
Tim Connolly tends to be reviled for being soft. But who is the first person(again) to step in when someone tries to take out Ryan Miller? Yep, Connolly. He drew a four minute roughing penalty after hammering Zach Parise from behind following Parise’s mixup with Miller behind the net.
A town devastated by horrific tragedy of national attention and left emotionally reeling. Their local pro hockey team plays a big game under incredibly somber circumstances and pulls out a critical victory.
Buffalo: February 13th? Nope…Binghamton: April 4th, as the B-Sens capitalized on the energy of the crowd after a game tying shorthanded goal to explode for three more in a ten minute span of the second period, surging them to a 5-2 win over the Albany River Rats. The win keeps them one point ahead of Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the AHL’s East Division with three games to go in the regular season.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the City of Binghamton and those affected by the terrifying and tragic incident there on Friday…