Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

April 27, 2007

SABRES NOTEBOOK: Rozsival returns, and plays big minutes

BUFFALO — The talk on Thursday was that defenseman Michal Rozsival wouldn’t be in the lineup when the Rangers and Sabres squared off on Friday night at HSBC Arena.

The talk was wrong.

Rozsival was in the starting lineup in Buffalo’s 3-2 victory.

Widely considered the Rangers best defenseman at both ends of the ice, Rozsival had career highs in goals (10), assists (30) and points (40) and averaged more than 24 minutes of ice time during the Rangers opening series win over Atlanta.

Rozsival returned to play a team-leading 8:49 in the first period, but his already aching leg got an additional shot when Dmitri Kalinin ended the first period by laying a hip into the defenseman right near the Buffalo bench. Rozsival limped off the ice and struggled up the tunnel when the period ended.

But it did little to keep the veteran out of the lineup. Rozsival finished the game with two seconds shy of 25 minutes on the ice.

•••

Although he didn’t manage a star, defenseman Dmitri Kalinin played a great game and was rewarded with additional playing time. Kalinin led all Sabres with 23:10 of ice time and had four of Buffalo’s 16 blocked shots. The Rangers had just six blocks as a team, led by center Matt Cullen, who had two.

•••

Rick Martin is used to famous linemates, but the former French Connection winger had a new one when he passed the microphone off to Irish tenor Ronan Tynan at the Party in the Plaza during the first intermission.

Tynan, who sang “God Bless America” for the fifth time at HSBC Arena, then stepped outside to address that crowd.

He took the mic and yelled, “Stanley is coming home to Buffalo,” to a big ovation.

For the record, the Sabres are 4-1 when Tynan sings before faceoff.

•••

The biggest hit of the night, or at least the one that got the biggest reception, was a hip thrown by Dainius Zubrus at Jaromir Jagr while the Rangers had a second period power play.

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