Cold comfort

Jan, 1, 2008

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(Scroll down to read in chronological order)

Pregame

You are reading live from the press box of Ralph Wilson Stadium. The teams have returned to the locker rooms following a "warm-up." We're not quite sure how warm you could get playing in this. The Zamboni machines are cleaning up the ice.

-Jaroslav Spacek will serve as Buffalo's captain. He was given the "C" for the month of January. The Sabres rotate the captaincy on a monthly basis.

-Former Penguin and Sabre Matthew Barnaby is seated in the row directly ahead of us. He is now retired but he still looks like he could play. He also looks like Dolphins quarterback Trent Green.

-Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is wearing a toque over his goalie mask.

-It appears Mike Emrick and Ed Olczyk will be doing the game from along side the ring in an outdoor booth.

-If you're reading along, feel free to e-mail us. srorabaugh@post-gazette.com.

-Game time temperature is 33.1 degrees.

-"O Canada" and "God Bless America" were both sung with Canadian and American flags unfurled on each end of the ice.

-Helicopters flew over.

-Gary Roberts is officially scratched for the Penguins.

-Nolan Pratt and Drew Stafford are the Sabres' scratches.

-The puck is dropped at 1:25

FIRST PERIOD

19:39: Right off the bat a goal is scored. Sidney Crosby swoops down the left side and drives towards the net. Ryan Miller makes the inital save and Colby Armstrong pounces on the rebound and punches it in. Penguins 1-0.

16:47: The first substantial attack by the Sabres comes as Daniel Paille sails a shot just left of the Penguins net.

15:38: The first penalty comes as Sabres center Tim Connolly is called for hooking.

14:19: From the left faceoff circle, Evgeni Malkin tees up and blasts a slapper. Miller eats it up.

12:44: The Penguins are clearly dominating play. Ryan Malone drives towards the net and draws a hooking call out of Maxim Afinogenov. We have the NBC feed on in here in the penalty box and there was a AMP energy drink commercial with Ryan Miller and Jean-Sebastien Flipping Aubin?!?! Couldn't they get get anyone else other than the former Penguin?

9:54: Paul Gaustad throws a puck on net from the right boards. It slides into the crease and Ty Conklin gloves it to freeze play. During the television timeout, they have the Zamboni's do a quick run on the ice to clean up the snow. At this point, the snow has slowed down to light flurries. The Zamboni machines dump the snow they've collected in a pile alongside the rink.

8:32: Spacek directs a shot through traffic on net. Conklin is able to locate it and deflect it away.

7:43: Thomas Vanek takes a holding penalty. The Penguins get their third power play. As a rough spot of ice is patched up, some "New Year's Day" by U2 is played.

7:39: After a delay of almost 10 minutes due to the rough ice, play has started.

6:58: Things get evened up as Colby Armstrong kicks Ryan Miller's skates out. Armstrong gets two for goaltender interference. Four-on-four.

4:43: Crosby leaves a drop pass for Malone and he one-times a shot off the post.

4:31: Derek Roy has a easy one-timer set up in the crease but he clinks it off the post.

3:43: Tyler Kennedy throws a puck on net and it gets deflected out of play almost hitting a member of the security staff in the snow surrounding the rink. He picks the puck up and throws it into the crowd. The officials continue to work on the rough patch of ice in the Sabres' end of the ice.

1:46: A "Let's Go Buff-A-Lo!" chant starts.

0:11: Roy leaves a drop pass for Vanek and he rockets a one-timer to the left of the net.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Sabres 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-We're not quite sure if there's a limited view of the field down low or anything, but for whatever reason, EVERYONE in the lower level has been standing since the puck dropped. Up high, everyone is sitting.

-The Penguins own an 11-9 advantage in shots.

-Walking around the stadium before the game and surveying the stands now, we can see just about any "conceivable" Sabres jersey you can imagine. We saw an Erik Rasmussen jersey for heaven's sake.

-We have a monitor with the CBC feed on here in the press box and you should see the tuxedo Don Cherry is wearing for Coaches Corner. It's a white tuxedo with white "balls" on it. He tops it of with a black fedora.

-The teams have returned to the ice for to warm-up.

SECOND PERIOD

18:35: Connolly sends a cross-ice pass to Brian Campbell who snaps a wrister by Conklin to tie the game. The stadium erupts. The goal horn from HSBC Arena goes off. Game tied. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.

16:42: Paul Gaustad thumps Darryl Sydor with a solid shoulder check.

15:22: Ryan Malone comes into the offensive zone, winds up for a slapper but Nathan Paetsch makes a nice defensive play and pokes the puck away.

13:17: A loose puck slides out to the point and Paetsch blasts a slapper. Conklin locates it through traffic and eats it up.

11:42: Malone tries to hit Campbell on the forecheck, but Campbell braces for it and knocks Malone down in the corner.

9:09: The Zamboni machines have returned to the rink to clean the ice. Michel Therrien is sporting a heavy coat. Lindy Ruff is wearing a pretty sweet Sabres letterman jacket.

9:06: Play has resumed after another delay to clean the ice. The flurries have begun to pick up quite a bit. The attendance officially is 71,217.

6:57: A puck gets deflected into the air in the crease. Derek Roy is able to swat it out of mid-air, but it hits the cross-bar and deflects out of play.

0:00: End of a fairly tame period. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-As far as the actual hockey on the ice is concerned, we wouldn't really call it spirited. There really haven't been any sort of scrums after the play.

-The Sabres dominated the shots in the second, 11-2. Ick.

-A band in the corner of the stadium is playing keeping the crowd entertained.

-The snow seems to have stopped for the moment.

-The players have returned to the ice.

THIRD PERIOD

18:54: Kennedy flies down the left side and snaps a quick shot on net. Miller makes the save and Kennedy jumps on the rebound. He fires another wrister that Miller gloves to freeze play.

18:16: The flurries are visible again.

14:15: In the stands behind the Sabres net, several shirtless Sabres fans can be seen pounding the side of the wall chanting "Let's Go Buff-A-Lo!"

12:42: Crosby brings the puck into the offensive zone, spins and fires a blind backhander low on Miller. The Sabres goaltender is able to stop the shot and freeze play.

12:38: The flurries have now turned into thicker flakes.

11:36: Crosby tries to jam in a loose puck in the crease by Miller but no dice. A small scrum ensues.

10:47: The officials address the ice in each crease. We are now getting slight flurries.

10:00: A horn sounds and teams will now switch goals. The Zamboni machines are also back on rink to clean the ice. Even with the game being something of a dud in terms of scoring, the fans are still very much into everything. People are seemingly rejoicing the simple fact that they are here watching this spectacle in person. Either that or they're jacked that Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" is blasting the stadium:

9:59: Play has resumed after another stoppage to clean the ice. The snow flakes are now much thicker.

7:57: Play is delayed to address the Penguins' net.

7:24: We have another stoppage as another rough patch of ice is fixed. Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" is played. So Good, So Good.

-As a what almost looks like a fire extinguisher is sprayed on the bad ice, Cotton-Eyed Joe is blasted:

5:36: Connolly snaps a shot from the left side and Conklin kicks it out of play. Late in a 1-1 game like this, that could be the biggest save in this part of the world since:

Superman and Ty Conklin=Clutch.

-We get another stoppage as the ice is repaired again.

5:25: Crosby tries to beat two Sabres. He flips the puck past them approaching the Sabres net but is sandwiched to the ice.

3:25: Crosby tries to snap a one-timer from just left of the net, but it sails just to the left of the net.

2:41: The snow is now blowing into the faces of the Sabres at this point.

0:44: The Sabres snap a shot from the point that Conklin makes a save on. The rebound kicks out to Vanek who can't get it in the net.

0:07: Conklin wants to give us some free hockey. He snags a wrister by Toni Lydman to keep the game tied.

0:00: End of period. As time expires, Armstrong hauls down Jason Pominville and is sent to the box. The Sabres have a huge opportunity to end this quick.

-There is another stoppage to re-surface the ice. They are spraying down the rough patches again with that "fire extinguisher." During the stoppage, "What I Like About You" by The Romantics is played. Solid:

-The Penguins outshot the Sabres, 8-2, in the third.

-"I'm Shipping back to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys is played before the overtime:

OVERTIME

4:29: Ales Kotalik blasts a one-timer low that Conklin is able to kicked out.

3:21: Vanek tries to re-direct a one-timer on net. Conlkin is able to makes the save, and we get a our first notable scrum. Conklin gets in Vanek's face and shoves him.

3:05: Campbell blasts a one-timer that Conklin again knocks away with his stick.

2:30: Play is stoppd so the teams can switch ends of the ice.

1:19: Connolly tries to go one-on-one with a defenseman and almost beats Conklin with a deke. The puck goes just wide of the net.

0:59: With a stoppage, the officials fix the Penguins' net.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.

-The Penguins were lucky to get out of the overtime period alive. The Sabres dominated that period.

-The officials decided not to clean the ice for the shootout which is unusual considering they normally do in regular games. And considering they've cleaned the ice several times during periods, you would've thought they would've done it for the shootout.

SHOOTOUT

-Kotalik swoops down the left and comes in on Conklin. He snaps a wrister that beats Conklin glove side. Sabres 1-0..

-Erik Christensen tries to deke on Miller but runs out of room. He shoots wide.

-Tim Connolly comes down the middle, fires a wrister that Conklin kicks out with his right leg.

-Kris Letang comes in slowly, dekes to the backhand and lifts a shot over Miller right leg. Penguins 1, Sabres 1.

-Afinogenov tries to backhand over Conklin's left side, but the Penguins goaltender snares it..

-Crosby snakes in slowly and sneaks the puck through Miller's five hole. Crosby jumps to celebrate. His teammates mob him. A notable Penguins cheer can be heard. End of shootout. Penguins 2-1. End of game. Penguins 2-1.

POSTGAME

-Wow. What else can be said? The game was played on a spectacular stage had a spectacular ending. While it did lag a bit in the second and third period in terms of game action, the NHL couldn't have asked for better conditions or a better ending. The league's showcase player winning the game in the most dramatic of fashions.

-Ty Conklin was huge. 36 saves in these conditions couldn't have been easy.

-Game summary.

-Event Summary

Crosby was named the first star for obvious reasons, but the honor should've gone to Conklin. He won this game for the Penguins.

-Henrik Tallinder led all skaters with 26:40 of ice time.

-Sergei Gonchar led the Penguins with 25:47.

-The quote of the day came from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff who was answering a question concerning those who would suggest a game like this was a gimmick. Ruff responded, "To (heck) with the cynics."

-We're getting out of here. Some serious snow is supposed to be moving in tonight and we want to get ahead of it. Assuming we get home in one piece, we'll post something as soon as we get back.



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