Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

December 30, 2008

SCHMITT: Sabres out of tricks, and it's early

BUFFALO — So much for holiday spirit. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men. Shiny, happy people.

Tuesday night at HSBC Arena had none of it. Instead, as the home team headed to the locker room for the second intermission on the wrong side of a 3-0 score, the catcalls came swirling down from those angry they’d given up a piece of their Christmas break for this.

Could you blame them? Let’s face it — Tuesday was not a banner day for the Buffalo sports fan.

First, Ralph Wilson decided he didn’t have the energy to start a new era in Bills history, so he kept the same coach that just botched an entire half a football season.

Then, the Sabres followed suit by pulling a no-show against a Washington team they thoroughly embarrassed in the same building back in November.

Buffalo got outworked, and simply looked outclassed. And it wasn’t just Alexander Ovechkin who looked head and shoulders above the Sabres.

Here’s all you need to know: After the locals scored their lone goal — by offensive juggernaut Adam Mair, mind you — they followed with a shift where they couldn’t clear their own zone for nearly a minute.

Some momentum.

What’s really upsetting about the Sabres’ sluggish start was that it offered the team its first chance to atone for Saturday’s horrible collapse against the New York Islanders.

Remember Saturday? Up two goals with less than two minutes to play at home against the league’s worst team, the Sabres needed a shootout to slip out with two points.

Buffalo’s first two minutes on Tuesday were just as bad, as a quick penalty turned into a quick goal, and Buffalo couldn’t get even again. And it could have been worse than the 4-1 final — the world’s best player, Ovechkin, missed on a breakaway.

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