Posted January 20, 2013 on
AP on Fox
A nine-month layoff, courtesy of the NHL lockout, wasn't long enough to disrupt the chemistry between the Buffalo Sabres' top two linemates, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville.
Vanek scored twice and added three assists, and Pominville had three assists in leading the Sabres to a 5-2 season-opening win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon.
''Ah, they spent a lot of years playing together. You go all the way back to their days in Rochester,'' coach Lindy Ruff said, referring to the two playing together in the American Hockey League 2004-05 season. ''Those two guys are a little bit like glue.''
They sure stuck it to the Flyers as the Sabres scored the game's final four goals -- the last three coming in the final five minutes.
''Good linemates,'' Vanek said of his career-best outing. ''And a little bit lucky at the same time.''
He became the first Sabres player with five points in a game since Drew Stafford had three goals and two assists in January 2008.
Vanek tied it 2-2 by scoring on a breakaway with 4:06 left in the second period. He then had a hand in setting up defenseman Tyler Myers' go-ahead goal with 5:03 remaining.
The Sabres worked the puck around to the left point, where Myers got off a shot that appeared to deflect in off the skate of Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who was battling with Vanek for position in front of the net.
Cody Hodgson and newly acquired forward Steve Ott also scored for the Sabres, while Ryan Miller made 27 saves. Buffalo ended a five-game skid against the Flyers (1-4-1) and improved to 6-1-1 in its past eight season openers.
Claude Giroux, with his second goal of the season, and Sean Couturier scored for the Flyers, who were coming off a 3-1 season-opening loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. This marks just the 10th time Philadelphia has opened 0-2.
''The bounces aren't going our way right now,'' Giroux said. ''It's not the start that we're looking for, two losses in a row. But we'll just have to fight through it and come back.''
The Flyers had two goals disallowed. The first one, scored by Ruslan Fedotenko in the first period, was waved off after referee Steve Kozari ruled Fedotenko had bumped Miller before the puck went in. The second came in the final minutes, when officials ruled the whistle had blown before the puck dribbled over the goal line.
Coach Peter Laviolette questioned why Fedotenko's goal was disallowed, noting the Flyers player was outside the crease when he nudged Miller. As for the second disallowed goal, Laviolette said he never spoke to the official who made the call.
A bigger concern is Philadelphia's penalty-killing unit.
After allowing the Penguins to score twice on three power-play chances, the Flyers gave up three more on Buffalo's six opportunities.
''The penalty-kill right now, we've got to continue to look at it and work at it,'' Laviolette said. ''Every day is a new opportunity. But we've got to get on track here and get a win in the column and get moving in the right direction.''
They'll have to get it started on the road. The Flyers are in the middle of a stretch in which they're playing six of seven away from Philadelphia.
The Sabres did little wrong in rewarding their fans in coming out of the NHL lockout.
Before the game, Sabres players, coaches and team owner Terry Pegula were in the First Niagara Center lobby to greet fans when the gates opened. They handed out programs, signed autographs and posed for pictures.
Once the game began, Buffalo scored the first goal, courtesy of Ott. At the final horn, they gathered at center ice and raised their sticks to acknowledge the sold-out house.
The Sabres were without third-line forward Ville Leino, who is listed as day to day with a lower body injury after he was hurt in practice Friday.
NOTES: At 18 years and 254 days, Sabres rookie C Mikhail Grigorenko became the fifth-youngest player to be on the team's opening roster. Pierre Turgeon was the youngest (18 years, 41 days) in 1987. ... The Sabres have only about 12,000 tickets unsold for their remaining 23 home games. ... Flyers C Zac Rinaldo played just 2:47 before leaving the game with what the team called a lower body injury.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Thomas Vanek is a one man scoring machine today.
HDTV with two goals and three assists today.
His linemates, Pominville and Hodgson have been full value in the first game of the season.
Pomemer with two assists, and, Hodgson with a goal.
Hodgson has been Buffalo's best player today. His skating has been terrific. His play making has been remarkable.
Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino is missing the team's regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers because of a lower body injury.
Listed by the team as day to day, Leino missed practice Saturday a day after he was hurt in practice.
Leino was well enough to join his teammates, coaches and Sabres owner Terry Pegula to greet fans in the First Niagara Center lobby...
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas Vanek hardly looked like a man who hadn't played NHL hockey in nine months. Vanek had five points (two goals, three assists) to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in the First Niagara Center. Tyler Myers scored the winning goal with just over five minutes remaining and Cody Hodgson gave the Sabres some breathing...
The Buffalo Sabres are keeping Darcy Regier around as general manager.
Team owner Terry Pegula announced Saturday that the Sabres have extended Regier's contract. Buffalo opens its lockout-shortened season Sunday at home against Philadelphia.
Regier, entering his 16th season as Sabres general manager, has overseen a franchise that has reached the Eastern Conference finals four...
To quote Terry Pegula, “Darcy ain’t going no where!”
The Buffalo Sabres have announced that Darcy Regier has agreed to an extension to remain on as the team’s general manager.
The news was announced during a press conference held by the Sabres this afternoon.
Reiger is entering his 13th season as Sabres general manager, the longest tenured GM in Sabres history. He’s also...
Pat Kaleta may just be the replacement for Ville Leino on Sunday, in the event that the former Flyer cannot play against his former team.
Leino was hobbled by an existing leg injury (believed to be an ankle or groin) on Friday. He didn't skate with the team on Saturday morning. Ruff that that Leino will skate on Sunday morning at First Niagara Center. If the leg is fine,...
Well, here we are. One game into the lockout-shortened season and there is already a misconception brewing about the boys in blue and gold: “This 2013 squad’s identity is TOUGHNESS!!!”
After acquiring Steve Ott & John Scott in the off-season, Darcy & Co. did their part to add some grit to a team that many considered “soft.” Those additions to a team already populated...
Ryan Miller stopped 34 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Monday night.
Miller lost his shutout bid when Nazem Kadri scored on the power play with 1:42 remaining, his second goal of the season. Toronto's Joffrey Lupul appeared to tie it seconds later with goalie Ben Scrivens on the bench, but the goal was disallowed.
With Scrivens on the bench...
Pat Kaleta (#36) puts a hit on Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux during Buffalo’s 5-2 win over the Flyers.
The message from the coaches and players in the Buffalo Sabres organization was the same throughout the offseason and during training camp: become a much tougher team to play against.
Last season, much was made of the infamous Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller when no one on...
These kinds of hits have to be banned from hockey. Buffalo
forward Tyler Ennis is 157 pounds soaking wet, and Flyers forward Scott Hartnell
is a bull at 210 pounds, and he buries Ennis from behind. No penalty on the play. You have to give
former Fighting Sioux forward Drew Stafford credit for answering the call.
Ryan Miller has a history of playing well against the Maple Leafs and Monday night was no different. Miller improved to 28-14 against Toronto all-time with a 35-save performance in Buffaloâs 2-1 victory at the Air Canada Centre.
Millerâs play was pivotal in helping Buffalo secure the win as the Sabres are off to a perfect 2-0 start to the lockout-shortened season.
Despite his team missing the playoffs for a third time in five seasons, Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula maintained his faith in his current personnel - namely general manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.
Buffalo begins its quest to return to the postseason Sunday when it hosts the Philadelphia Flyers, who have ended the Sabres' attempts to reach the playoffs in each...
(Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres got their second win of the young season in as many days with a 2-1 win over host Toronto in the Maple Leafs’ home opener on Monday night. The win moves Buffalo to 2-0 on the season.
Buffalo’s top line once again shined as Cody Hodgson, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Pominville all got on the score sheet once again. Hodgson...
Welcome to the first day of the 2013 NHL season!
The Sabres are on the ice for practice at First Niagara Center this morning.
The Philadelphia Flyers will charter to Buffalo from Pittsburgh later this afternoon.
Puck drop on the Sabres season is 12:30 pm Sunday.
Ville leino is the only no show at the practice. No official reason why he's absent. Lindy Ruff will address...