All that has happened since we last talked on Tuesday was the removal of General Manager Darcy Regier and Head Coach Ron Rolston. They were replaced by Pat LaFontaine as the head of Hocker Operations, and "new" bench boss Ted Nolan, on an interim basis at least.
We will have plenty of time to discuss the moves all night long. Be sure to comment below, while I will add my two cents in between scoring plays and answer your questions/comments. Also, be sure to give myself and Brian Koziol a follow on Twitter for more insights: @PatWGR and @BrianWGR.
18:30 - Just a minute and a half into the game and already fans are loud and on the edge of their seats. It was a very well done montage of LaFontaine and Nolan clips, past and present, by the Sabres in the pregame. That is one thing the presentation staff does very well.
15:12 - Buffalo is on the power play for another handful of seconds, and there is noticable life in the unit. Both Tyler Ennis and Ville Leino cut across the front and used the tip drill. Does not yield a goal, but fans can get behind this type of effort.
11:22 - The Sabres are outshooting Toronto 6-2 early on tonight. The effort is there early on.
9:39 - Both teams have settled down into this game, but there has been no real flow the past few minutes. There has been quite a bit of icing the puck and whistles that have slowed this one down to a crawl.
5:23 - Toronto weathered the blue and gold's storm and are now beginning to create chances in the offensive zone. However, they have just three shots on goal.
3:07 - Jonathan Bernier is saved by the goal post for the second time already in the game. This place would have erupted if Corey Tropp's shot had found its way into the net. Instead, the score is still 0-0.
End of Period
TOR: 2:56 - Paul Ranger (2 min., tripping). 18:51 - Phil Kessel (2 min., delay of game).
Shots on Goal
BUF - 10, TOR - 5
14:15 - There has been little back-and-forth this period so far. The Sabres have continued to ice the puck to slow down the play. It is like watching paint dry in this stanza.
13:35 - LEAFS GOAL. Trevor Smith whoops the visiting fans into a frenzy with a nice shot from the point that beats Ryan Miller and gives Toronto a 1-0 lead. It sounded like a home game at Air Canada Centre just moments ago. 1-0 TOR.
10:15 - SABRES GOAL. Very good individual efforts by Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Steve Ott resulted in a power play goal for Buffalo. Myers took the initial shot, while Stafford bumped the puck over to Ott who slammed it past Bernier for the equalizer. That was an effort goal. 1-1 tie.
7:04 - First power play of the night for Toronto as Marcus Foligno sticks out his foot in the neutral zone and is called for tripping. The Leafs' special teams is good, we will see if Buffalo can hold them off for two minutes.
4:38 - SABRES GOAL. Steve Ott and Drew Stafford help create a 2-on-1 chance for Marcus Foligno, and the youngster buries the puck past the Toronto goalie for Buffalo's first lead of the night. Credit also goes to Cody McCormick for helping kill the last of Foligno's minor that allowed Buffalo to break out eventually. 2-1 BUF.
End of Period
BUF: 9:45 - Steve Ott (3) PPG (Tyler Myers, Mark Pysyk). 15:22 - Marcus Foligno (3) (Steve Ott, Drew Stafford).
TOR: 6:25 - Trevor Smith (2) (David Clarkson, Mason Raymond).
BUF: 12:56 - Marcus Foligno (2 min., tripping)
TOR: 8:04 - Mark Fraser (2 min., cross checking)
Shots on Goal
BUF - 9 (19), TOR - 15 (20)
15:54 - This frame has started the way each of the first two have...not a whole heck of a lot going on. Ho hum so far as Buffalo has three shots on goal, and the Leafs two.
14:09 - Drew Stafford in the box for slashing. Big point in the game, and if the Sabres can kill this penalty off it would be a nice momentum booster.
10:00 - Halfway through the final period of regulation and the shots on goal are even at 4-4. Toronto has controlled the play, however.
7:10 - It is the Sabres turn to dictate play, and it feels like that are one shot away from upping the lead to two goals. If it does happen, this place is going to go bonkers.
4:35 - This might not be good for Buffalo - Henrik Tallinder is in the penalty box for interference after a scrum in front of his own net.
3:25 - So far, so good a minute into the minor. Ott has been very good on the PK tonight.
1:01 - Empty net for the Leafs.
:27.2 - SABRES GOAL. Christian Ehrhoff had a great individual effort to block a James van Riemsdyk shot with an empty net, and the defender scooped the puck down the ice and scored to salt the game away. Wow. 3-1 BUF.
End of Game
Buffalo 3, Toronto 1
BUF: 19:32 - Christian Ehrhoff (1) (Mark Pysyk)
BUF: 5:43 - Drew Stafford (2 min., slashing). 15:25 - Henrik Tallinder (2 min., interference)
Shots on Goal
BUF - 8 (27), TOR - 13 (33)
It is only one game, but the difference in attitude from the blue and gold tonight was undeniable. It seems like a "toxic cloud" has been removed from the Sabres locker room, and now the players can get back to the way they have shown they can play in the past. The "compete level" of guys like Steve Ott, Drew Stafford, and others was much better tonight. We will see if it continues tomorrow night in Toronto and beyond.
No matter how things turn out, it was a very nice first re-introduction to the Sabres fan base for Ted Nolan. These two teams will meet again on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. The puck drops just after seven o'clock on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550. Pregame with Brian Koziol starts at 6 p.m.