By Tim Schmitt
BUFFALO — Leave the blade of your stick on the ice and Tim Connolly can seemingly find it from anywhere. But give the Sabres center an open four-by-six foot net to shoot at and the results haven’t been nearly as good.
Between a nagging muscle pull and a cold spell, Connolly had just a single goal in 14 games this season prior to Friday’s 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The most glaring misfire came in Wednesday’s win over Ottawa when Connolly had a wide-open net and hit the goal post.
But Connolly didn’t have time to grip it too tighly in the second period when a rocket rebound found his stick. Connolly redirected the puck in, giving Buffalo a 2-1 lead.
Connolly’s last goal came on Oct. 11 during a three-point night against Atlanta.
Looked like a scary moment just seconds into Friday’s game between the Sabres and Canadiens when Andrei Markov crashed into the boards and laid flat for minutes.
Markov was retreating to get the puck to the left of starting Montreal goalie Carey Price when Ales Kotalik caught the Montreal defenseman off balance. Markov was knocked to the ice, then hit his head into the boards.
Markov was down for minutes and the trainers attended to him. He eventually rose to his feet, however, and went to the bench rather than the dressing room. Markov, whose 17 points leads Montreal defensemen and ranks him fifth in the NHL, returned soon after.
So much for the Sabres wearing white during home games against divisional opponents in November. Buffalo wore its blue uniforms against Montreal on Friday since the team needed the whites for tonight’s road game, despite an earlier release from the team saying they’d wear white.
There wasn’t much scoring in the Sabres Shootout between the second and third periods thanks to the efforts of a pair of local high school goaltenders.
Lockport and Grand Island squared off in the shootout, which pits local club hockey teams. Lockport’s Pat Krebs stopped all three shots he faced, as did Grand Island’s Jake Leffler.
For the third straight night, Buffalo scored the first goal when Derek Roy’s power-play goal opened the scoring just under nine minutes into the game. Buffalo had failed to get the first goal for the previous 14 games.
Montreal brought the league’s best power-play unit to HSBC Arena and clicked on it once. Tom Kostopoulos scored his third goal of the season after Ales Kotalik went off for tripping.
It must be World’s Largest Disco time. During the Sabres’ “Celebrity Lookalikes” segment on the Jumbotron midway through the second period, soon after Rick Jeanneret did his best Rodney Dangerfield impression, Erik Estrada took center stage.
After fiddling with his hairpiece, Estrada talked briefly about the disco, which starts tonight at 9 p.m. at the Buffalo Convention Center.
But much like Estrada’s had trouble letting go of his 15 minutes of fame, he was abruptly cutoff when he kept talking as play began.