Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

January 4, 2008

SABRES: Ruff splits Roy, Vanek with little success

NOTEBOOK: Coach puts Vanek with Kotalik, Connolly in 5-3 loss to Ottawa.

BUFFALO — As anticipated, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff shuffled his lines on Friday for a meeting with Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa, splitting the duo of Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek. Buffalo lost, 5-3, dropping its fifth straight decision.

Vanek, who entered the game with just 11 goals and 11 assists in 38 games, was paired with Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly, while Derek Roy played with Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht.

It appeared Vanek had broken a four-game scoreless streak in the first period when he batted in a bouncing pass out of the air, but referees correctly waved the goal off. Vanek had clearly hit the puck with his stick above the crossbar.

He did later break the string when his pass to the front of the net was redirected by Kotalik, getting the Sabres on the board in the second period.

Vanek and Roy did play together a few times, including on a four-on-four situation during the second period, but the most memorable moment of that shift was Vanek getting stuck on defense on a three-on-two. The Senators didn’t capitalize.

•••

The Sabres lost the services of forward Daniel Paille halfway through the first period when he took a thunderous hit from Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

Paille came in over the blue line and Volchenkov’s shoulder appeared to catch Paille in the chin. Paille lost a glove and dropped his stick in the process, then wobbled back to the bench where teammates grabbed him and pulled him into the bench.

•••

It didn’t take long for the teams’ enforcers to square off in the first period.

Buffalo’s Andrew Peters and Ottawa’s Chris McGrattan needed just a few seconds on the ice together to drop their gloves. Although the pair danced for a bit, few punches were thrown as each fighter held the other at bay.

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