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Karlsson spoils Sabres home opener

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550)  -- Hello once again into the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box, and man does it feel to be good to be back here for the next 41 home games. The Buffalo Sabres open the home slate of the 2013-14 schedule against the Ottawa Senators. 

The Senators make their season debut tonight in Buffalo. Gone is their leader, Daniel Alfredsson, but now in the lineup is Bobby Ryan. Meanwhile, the injury bug has already hit Buffalo. Ville Leino has a cracked rib, and is out indefinitely. Johan Larsson makes his Sabres debut in between Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott. Ryan Miller is between the pipes for the second straight game as well. For more, check out Paul Hamilton's pre-game primer by clicking here.

Be sure to add your thoughts in by commenting in the thread below. I will include my two cents in between scoring plays. For more Sabres and all around sports talk, be sure to follow myself: @PatWGR and Brian Koziol @BrianWGR on Twitter.

First Period

19:25 - This crowd is rocking after another quality open that the Sabres folks produced. The light up wristbands looked cool, and the video presentation gets an A+. Now on to the game.

16:52 - The first penalty to the Sabres is killed off with only one real good chance for Ottawa. With Tyler Ennis in the box a chance rang off of the goal post early, but that was all. Still scoreless nearly four minutes in.

12:42 - The Sabres have killed the first two penalties of the game, but now have a 5-on-3 chance with :24 seconds to go in Bobby Ryan's interference minor. Stephane Da Costa has joined him in the box. Buffalo needs to win the faceoff.

11:20 - Buffalo did not score on the two-man advantage, but had a good chance thanks to solid puck movement that led to a point shot that got through. I was much more impressed with the passing on the limited time.

8:47 - Despite some good puck possession and passing, the Sabres are being out shot 14-7 as we are just past the halfway point of the period.

4:12 - Buffalo has roared back to accumulate 14 shots on goal, and now trail Ottawa by an 18-14 margain.

1:43 - Ottawa reaches the 20 shot mark, and are on the power play. Do they get to 25 before the period is over?

End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: none
OTT: none

Penalty Summary

BUF: 1:06 - Tyler Ennis (2 min., hooking). 4:53 - John Scott (2 min., slashing). 17:50 - Tyler Myers (2 min., interference).
OTT: 5:42 -Bobby Ryan (2 min., interference). 7:19 - Stephane Da Costa (2 min., tripping). 15:59 - Jared Cowen (2 min., hooking).

Shots on Goal

BUF - 16, OTT - 23

Second Period

18:20 - An absolute golden opportunity missed by Kevin Porter. Would have put Buffalo up early and seize the momentum of the frame, but it does not go. 

14:29 - The Sabres PP continues to have trouble getting started. Rasmus Ristolainen looked like a rookie, having trouble dealing with the puck and setting up along the blue line. Buffalo is now 0-11 on the PP this year. Even I can figure out that adds up to a 0.00% clip. 

11:46 - And Steve Ott has the puck go off the heel of his stick and misses a wide open net. How many more of these chances is the team going to get?!

10:20 - Some brutal passing by Mike Weber in the his own zone created some extra offensive time for the Senators. The passing all around needs to be better for Buffalo.

8:16 - I have liked Mikhail Grigorenko's play tonight. He has been strong on the puck and has been around it it seems like more often than not when he has been on the ice tonight. His "compete" has been very good in my book.

5:33 - A more pedestrian period between both teams here in the middle stanza. After 43 combined shots in the first, the two teams have put just 13 pucks on net. 

End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: none
OTT: none

Penalty Summary

BUF: none
OTT: 4:03 - Bobby Ryan (2 min., hooking).

Shots on Goal

BUF -  9 (25), Ott - 10 (33)

Third Period

16:12 - The Sabres are buzzing around the ice, but are not using that speed to their advantage. They seem unorganized and all over the place, instead of taking the puck and driving toward the Ottawa net. Case in point: Tyler Ennis lost the puck after entering the zone and trying to go east-west across the blue line. The puck went back the other way, instead of resulting in a scoring chance.

12:52 - Who is going to blink first? My bet will be on the Sabres making a defensive miscue in their own zone to break the stalemate.

8:28 - Shots are 8-7 this period in favor of Ottawa, but the Sabres have had the much better chances. Thomas Vanek has had a few that he has not cashed in. We may be heading to a scoreless overtime.

8:05 - Erik Karlsson is such a steady player on the Ottawa blue line. He caught up to Zemgus Girgensons and knocked the puck away with ease, like he has done a couple of times tonight. So smooth.

5:49 - The line of Ennis-Grigorenko-Ott has generated a buzz in the building at both ends of the ice in their most recent shift. Good solid backchecking helped get the puck up ice, where they made Craig Anderson make a good save or two. It just feels like the Sabres are waiting to bust out.

2:07 - Anything you can do, I can do better! Craig Anderson makes an absolute steal of a save on Girgensons from the slot. 

1:35 - SENATORS GOAL. There is the defensive breakdown I was talking about as Erik Karlsson sneaks down from the point and buries a chance past Ryan Miller to give Ottawa a late lead and silence the crowd. 1-0 OTT.

End of Game

Goal Summary

BUF: none
OTT: 18:25 - Erik Karlsson (1) (Clarke MacArthur, Kyle Turris)

Penalty Summary

BUF: none
OTT: none

Shots on Goal

BUF - 10 (35), OTT - 13 (46)

Final Thoughts

Well, it is another one-goal loss for the blue and gold already this season. And it is another night where a power play goal early tonight would have jump started the offense and whipped the fans into a frenzy. A brief aside, the sold out crowd was outstanding tonight. They created their own chants throughout the night unprompted, and tried to will the team to a goal. 

Last year it was Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scoring the bulk of the Buffalo offense early in the season, while the rest of the team struggled. So far no one has really found their scoring touch, and many fans are already "suffering." 

The task does not get any easier for Buffalo when they head to Pittsburgh for a date with the Penguins tomorrow night. The puck drops after seven o'clock along the Sabres Radio Network. Pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m. on the flagship home for Sabres hockey - WGR Sports Radio 550.

All photos courtesy of AP
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