Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

February 9, 2008

SABRES NOTEBOOK: Chara ends Stafford’s night with a cross-check

BUFFALO — Dmitri Kalinin has been hot of late, registering points in two of three starts prior to Friday’s showdown with the Boston Bruins. The veteran defenseman wasn’t going to let his temperature keep him out of the lineup with what amounted to a February playoff game brewing at HSBC Arena.

Kalinin took part in the morning skate, but left after battling flu symptoms. It was suggested that he might be replaced in the lineup by Nathan Paetsch.

But after taking the pre-game skate, Kalinin felt good enough to take part in the action, taking his normal spot with Nolan Pratt on the Sabres’ blueline.

He mixed it up a little, too, laying a stick into Marc Savard in the second period after Savard clipped Ryan Miller after the goalie held on to a Glen Murray shot. Kalinin and Murray both drew minor penalties.

Paetsch, meanwhile, was relegated to the press box for the seventh straight game. Also scratched was Andrew Peters, who missed his second straight game and fourth in the last six starts.

•••

As if Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara wasn’t already a target for fan hatred, the league’s tallest player ended the night of Drew Stafford when he hit the Buffalo winger in the back with a cross-check halfway through the final period.

Stafford laid on the ice while play continued, then hobbled back to the bench. He headed immediately to the Sabres locker room. Stafford re-injured the ankle that forced him to miss a game against Atlanta.

The biggest hit of the night, however, was a clean one. Brian Campbell caught P.J. Axelsson looking for the puck in his feet while in the transition and drilled the winger with a clean check just inside the Bruins’ blue line.

•••

Alex Auld had seen just one period of play in the Bruins last eight games, but head coach Claude Julien called on the journeyman goalie, hoping to shake the Bruins out of a two-game slide. The move came with a history as Auld’s second start after being acquired from Phoenix was a 45-save victory over the Sabres at HSBC Arena.

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