The Buffalo Sabres opened the First Niagara Center tonight, to host the San Jose Sharks, but that ended up being the back page story.
About an hour before game time, Ted Nolan informed goaltender Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott that they were going to be scratched tonight due to an impending trade.
Minutes before opening puck drop, the trade was made official. Ryan Miller and Steve Ott would be heading to St. Louis. In return, the Buffalo Sabres acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, 2015 first-round draft pick, and a 2016 conditional third-round pick.
While many expected both these now ex-Sabres to be traded, this deal certainly sent shockwaves throughout Western NY.
“We reached the point of no return,” said General Manager Tim Murray. “We certainly weren’t aiming for the deal to happen right before the game, but that’s how things ended up working out.”
Both Miller and Ott were very respectable following news of their trade.
“I’m just thankful to everybody in Buffalo,” said Miller. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do here.”
“It was a big honor to be the captain of this team,” said Ott. “It’s been an honor to play here.”
Following the game, the locker room responded with the same sentiment.
“To be honest, its like feeling your heart got ripped out,” Mike Weber said. “Miller is the best goaltender in the world, and Steve is like a brother to me. I’m glad to have been able to play with him.”
“It’s obviously an emotional time,” said Matt Moulson. “It’s tough to see friends like that go, especially two great guys like that.”
Moving over to the game now.
The Sabres came into tonight, riding a two-game winning streak out of the Olympic Break. Their streak was surely put to the test, against the Western Conference powerhouse San Jose Sharks.
Through the first period, there was a bevy of back and forth action. The Sabres would take advantage of a San Jose mistake first, as Cody Hodgson would score his 15th goal of the season on the power play. This goal put Buffalo up, 1-0.
After one period, the Sabres were leading 1-0, but were being outshot 13-8.
Buffalo continued with some momentum into the second period, until James Sheppard scored his 2nd goal of the season, which tied the game at 1.
Although San Jose outshot Buffalo at an obscene 31-13 after two periods, the game head into the final 20 minutes tied at 1.
The third period is where things really opened up for Buffalo.
At 4:33 of the third, Brian Flynn put home his 6th goal of the season, to put Buffalo up 2-1. A little over three minutes later, Matt Moulson would join the goal party when he netted his 17th of the season, at 7:39.
Time ticked throughout the third, and the Sabres continued to hold the lead against one of the best teams in the league.
San Jose would bring this game within one at 18:45, on Patrick Marleau’s 24th goal of the season, but that would be as close as San Jose would get.
Tyler Myers would go on to roof an empty net goal, his 8th of the season, to put Buffalo up 4-2.
With this victory, the Sabres now have a 18-34-8 record with 44 points. Buffalo plays again this Monday night against the Dallas Stars. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBCSN and puck drops shortly after 8 PM.