Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 3:30 pm
WHO CAN CLINCH: The Vancouver Canucks will become the first team to clinch a playoff berth (via securing the Northwest Division title) by earning at least one point tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Toronto Maple Leafs (30-30-10) at the Carolina Hurricanes (32-28-10), 7 pm ET.
The Maple Leafs could all but call off their bid to return to the postseason for the first time in since before the lockout with a loss tonight. Losers of four of their last five entering tonight’s contest at RBC Center, Toronto would slip to 12th in the Eastern Conference and fall to six points back of eighth-place Buffalo if they don't manage to secure at least a point.
The Hurricanes are coming off 1-0 victory over the Sabres, Carolina’s first road win in a month, and could pull even with Buffalo (76 points) with a victory. (Buffalo would remain in eighth since it has a game in hand, thus a better winning percentage.) Cam Ward made 44 saves against the Sabres on Tuesday as he made Brandon Sutter’s goal late in the first period hold up.
ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Washington Capitals (41-20-10) at Detroit Red Wings (41-20-8), 7:30 pm, Versus.
There are only four games on the schedule tonight, but Versus will broadcast what should be a high-powered contest against two of the best teams in NHL. The Caps enter on a nine-game winning streak and we’ll get to see two Russian buddies, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, go head to head.
GOLF WATCH: Edmonton Oilers have been mathematically eliminated.
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:38 pm
Carolina Hurricanes (31-28-10) at Buffalo Sabres (34-27-8)
HSBC Arena, 7:30 p.m. ET (Versus)
SERIES: Carolina (9th in East) 1-1-0; Buffalo (7th in East) 1-0-1
IMPLICATIONS: Carolina can move to within fourth place with a victory combined with a New York Rangers loss. (The Rangers host the New York Islanders tonight.) Buffalo won’t fall out of the top-8 no matter what happens tonight, but would slip to eighth with a loss coupled with a Rangers win.
BREAKDOWN: The Sabres have netted points in each of their last four home games, but these are a couple crucial points up for grabs since the ‘Canes are one of a handful of teams with a shot for the final two playoff slots in the Eastern Conference. Counting tonight’s contest, the Sabres have 13 games with four of those against teams that enter 8th-10th in the standings (Carolina, 2 games, Rangers and Toronto).
The Hurricanes, winless in their last four outings, are seeking their first road win since Feb. 13 and Carolina might not be able to count on their power play. Carolina hasn’t scored on their last 21 opportunities on the power play, a span of five games. The Sabres, meanwhile, have allowed just one goal over their last 16 penalty kill opportunities.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Carolina F Jeff Skinner vs. Buffalo F Tyler Ennis. This is another chance to see a couple leading contenders for the Calder Trophy go head to head. Skinner scored his 24th goal of the season over the weekend, but it was only his second tally over the last 10 games as his production has slowed since he was featured attraction at the All-Star game in Raleigh. Skinner, however, still leads all rookies in scoring with 50 points. Ennis enters on a three-game point streak and is coming off a two-goal effort against Ottawa on Sunday.
KEY STAT: 126. The number of goals the Sabres are on pace to score over the second half of the season, which would be a 22-goal improvement over the first 41 games.
Posted on: March 13, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 5:00 pm
Rick Martin, a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ legendary French Connection line, died Sunday after apparently losing consciousness behind the wheel of his car. He was 59.
"We lost a heck of a guy today," Sabres coach and Martin's former teammate Lindy Ruff said. "It's tough when you lose anybody, and we lost a real good person today. It's a tough one to take."
The Sabres announced Monday that a public memorial service will be held at HSBC Arena on March 24.
Martin was driving in suburban Buffalo when his 2001 Buick Lacrosse sedan crossed the center line and eventually came to rest against a tree. Two passers-by and later a state trooper performed CPR on Martin as his German shepherd, the only other occupant of the car, stood alongside, New York State Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli said.
On Monday, authorities said an autopsy revealed Martin died of hypertensive heart disease, which is related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
News of Martin’s death spread as the Sabres were set to play the Ottawa Senators at HSBC Arena, where just a few weeks ago he joined his linemates French Connection linemates -- Rene Robert and Gilbert Perrault -- as the Sabres’ new owner, Terry Pegula, was introduced. A video tribute of Martin ran before the game.
"It was great sadness and a heavy heart that we lost a member of the Sabre family today," longtime team broadcaster Rick Jeanneret said, as pictures of Martin were shown. "Rick Martin was a person of joy. You'll be missed `Rico,' but you will be remembered."
Martin was drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in 1971 and scored 41 goals during the 1971-72 season, a rookie record at the time. He spent 10-plus seasons in Buffalo before a severe knee injury against the Washington Capitals in November 1980 cut short his career. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, but would only play in four games with the club before retiring.
Martin, a two-time 50-goal scorer, finished with 701 points (384 goals and 317 assists) in 685 career NHL games. He also had 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points in 63 career playoff games. His 382 goals while with the Sabres ranks as the most by any Buffalo left winger. He also is tops in Sabres history in three-goal game (21), second in game-winning goals (77) and third in points (695).
"He certainly made a lot of us laugh, didn't he?" said former defenseman Mike Robitaille, who played three years with Martin in Buffalo. "I don't know what we're doing being so emotional when what he stands for is to have fun and laugh. Man, we should have the biggest party in the world for Richard. ... A lot of good memories."
-- A.J. Perez
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 12, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 4:12 pm
Buffalo Sabres (33-26-8) at Toronto Maples Leafs (29-29-10)
Air Canada Centre, 7 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
SERIES: Buffalo 3-1-0; Toronto 1-2-1
IMPLICATIONS: Buffalo, tied with the New York Rangers points-wise, can get a little breathing room in seventh with a victory. (The Rangers play San Jose tonight.) A victory in this division rivalry would be huge for the Leafs -- especially if it comes in regulation. Depending how things shake out, Toronto could finish the night two points out of eighth.
BREAKDOWN: This is one three games that will change how the the bottom of the East looks heading into daylight savings time.
The Leafs, 10-4-5 since the All-Star break, aren't in must-win territory, but they can't lose many of these tilts against teams in front of them in the standings. (They are already winless in their last three outings.) Much the the Leafs' recent success can directly be attributed to goalie James Reimer (above). He's been assigned to the Toronto's AHL club on three occasions this season, but it's safe to say there won't be a fourth trip down to the Marlies. He enters 12-6-4 and one of his rare down games this rookie season came against Buffalo as he gave up five goals on 30 shots on Feb. 5. He got the win the last time these two teams met (Feb. 19) in relief of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
This game will be the final game on the road on this current seven-game, 12-day trip for Buffalo. The Sabres are 4-1-1 so far and are coming off a 4-3 OT victory over Boston on Thursday.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buffalo F Thomas Vanek vs. Toronto F Phil Kessel. Vanek, who missed a game earlier this week with the flu, returned and had a goal and an assist against Boston. He leads the Sabres with 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists). Kessel, who has only one point over the last four games, leads all current Toronto players in goals (10) and points (14) in 30 games lifetime against Buffalo.
KEY STAT: 4-10-4. The Leafs' record in Saturday games.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:00 pm
SEASON SERIES: Buffalo 3-1-1; Boston 2-2-1
IMPLICATIONS: The Sabres could move up a spot to seventh, displacing the idle New York Rangers. (Both would have 74 points, but Buffalo gets the edge with two games in hand after tonight.) The Bruins could advance to second place in the East with a victory. (Boston and idle Washington would each have 86 points, but the Bruins would have a game in hand.) Here's a look at our plaoff tracker.
BREAKDOWN: Despite all the outcry, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will indeed be in the lineup tonight. He told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty that he was “relieved” that he would not sit for his check Tuesday night that seriously injured Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.
"I’m satisfied and happy about it. Relieved,” Chara said. “They looked at it and made a decision, and I respect that.”
While Pacioretty’s injury understandably took the spotlight off the scoreboard, the Bruins 4-1 loss was a rare hiccup of late. Still, the Bruins enter 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
Buffalo is 3-1-1 through the first six games of its seven-game, 12-day trip. The Sabres will get winger Thomas Vanek back in the lineup tonight after he missed Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller vs. Boston goalie Tim Thomas. These two former teammates from the Team USA’s silver-medal run at last year’s Winter Olympics are both on their game. Thomas, who may have been injured in practice and sat out Tuesday’s game in Montreal, is 14-4-4 in his last 22 games and hasn’t been beaten in regulation over this last four starts. Miller made 28 saves in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, his first start since getting a rare night off last weekend.
KEY STAT: 6. Among the Sabres' final 16 games, that's how many teams are currenlty in the playoff picture.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 3:18 pm
Buffalo Sabres (30-25-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (30-25-9)
RBC Center, 7 pm ET
Buffalo: 9th in East, 67 points (5-3-2 in last 10 games)
Carolina: 8th in East, 69 points (4-4-2 in last 10 games)
Season series: Buffalo def. Carolina, 3-2, in first meeting on Jan 13.
BREAKDOWN: A Buffalo Sabres win puts them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, at least for one night. (Buffalo would get the edge in the standings since it has two games in hand. Click here for our rundown of the playoff chase, along with the league’s tiebreaking procedures.) Sabres goalie Ryan Miller probably hasn’t been this much on his game since he led Team USA to silver at the 2010 Winter Games. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in regulation over his last five starts, including Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Without him, the Sabres, who were in 12th place and 10 points out of playoff spot at the end of December, wouldn’t be here.
Carolina has some room to advance up the standings as well. A victory and a Rangers loss would put them into seventh place. Cory Stillman has two goals and an assist in his return to the Carolina via trade with the Florida Panther on Feb. 24. Goalie Cam Ward is expected to make his 24th consecutive start. Jeff Skinner, one of the contenders for the Calder Trophy, hasn’t scored a goal over the last five games, although he still leads all rookies in points (47).
Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:56 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:21 am
Jason Arnott assisted on the equalizer for the Washington Capitals with 48 seconds left in regulation. Rostislav Klesla’s helper was part of the Phoenix Coyotes’ late run. Scottie Upshall forced OT with a second-period goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Overall, several deadline day acquisitions made immediate impacts as they donned new sweaters on Tuesday. That’s not even counting Brad Boyes (power-play goal for the Buffalo Sabres) and Cory Stillman (goal and an assist for the Carolina Hurricanes), both acquired days before Monday’s deadline who also contributed to their new teams. (OK, it was also for an old team in Stillman’s case.)
Here’s a breakdown of the highlights:
GREAT 8 RESURFACES: No, not the ice -- even if Alex Ovechkin has blended into the background during some games as much as your average Zamboni driver this season. Ovechkin, who is almost certain to finish with a career low in goals, scored his 25th of the season -- and quietly his league-leading ninth game-winning goal -- in overtime to send the Caps to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. (He also had a secondary assist on Brooks Laich’s goal in the final minute of regulation.) Nathan Lawson, playing his ninth NHL game, made a game-high 40 saves before Ovechkin made a stellar deke 1:55 into the extra period. Here’s the video:
DISAPPOINTMENT IN THE DESERT: The Phoenix Coyotes’ rally from two goals down late in the third period against the division rival Dallas Stars sputtered not long after Ray Whitney tied the game with 38 seconds left. Radim Vrbata took a hooking penalty – an infraction Stars forward Mike Ribeiro made sure the refs didn’t miss -- with 13 seconds left in regulation. Jamie Benn then scored with five seconds left in regulation (video below) as the Stars moved up two slots in the standings with those vital two points via the 3-2 victory.
Bruins’ PERFECT FINISH: The Boston Bruins wrapped up their first 6-0 trip since Bobby Orr roamed the blue line with a 1-0 victory in Ottawa. (That 1972 season was also the last time Boston hoisted the Stanley Cup.) Nathan Horton banged in the game’s lone goal early in the third period for the Bruins, who were called “spaghetti-legged” by CSN Boston’s Joe Haggerty. Tuukka Rask, who won his fourth consecutive game, made 33 saves in the shutout.
LINE CHANGES: Buffalo Sabers goalie Ryan Miller has appeared more locked than at any point this season, which doesn’t bode well for teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Miller stopped 29 shots in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory over the host New York Rangers --- the seventh consecutive game he’s given up two or fewer goals. Entering play Wednesday, the Sabres are a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and Buffalo has two games in hand. . . . In a night that featured eight one-goal games and one two-goal game that included an empty-netter, no contest went as long as Columbus Blue Jackets-Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo, who has been knocked previously for his play in the shootouts, earned a 2-1 decision after an eight-round shootout. . . . The San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers also won in shootouts. The nod for the snazziest goal in the post-overtime portion goes Edmonton’s Linus Omark. Here's a look:
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins, Brad Boyes, Brooks Laich, Buffalo Sabres, Cory Stillman, Eastern Conference, Edmonton Oilers, Jason Arnott, Linus Omark, Nathan Horton, Nathan Lawson, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pacific Division, Phoenix Coyotes, Rostislav Klesla, Ryan Miller, San Jose Sharks, Scottie Upshall, Tuukka Rask, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Western Conference