There is nothing like a Buffalo Sabres game in western New York: the energy and intensity; tailgating outside during a raging blizzard, in five below zero temperatures; riots in the street regardless of the game's end result and hundreds of thousands of Sabres fans rooting for their team.
Then you have a Buffalo Sabres game in Phoenix. Buffalo fans are still the typical Buffalo fans: loud and clearly out-cheering their opponents with quick comebacks and foul tongues.
There was no sell-out crowd, this time. No Molsons, Labatts or crazy Canucks walking over the Niagara Falls' Rainbow Bridge, with the hip hair style of a fine Canadian mullet and a western New Yorker yelling, “I see a Stanley Cup, eh!”
Nope, not in Phoenix.
There was hardly any traffic, barely a line to wait in, a near empty parking lot and by God, no Canadian brew. Hell, not even a Genny!
A Sabres game in Buffalo will sell-out a year ahead of time. A Sabres game in Phoenix will be begging for fans.
Until last night’s game, due to Sabre fan loyalty, Jobing.com arena saw a record crowd for the year at near to 15 thousand. The majority of the crowd cheered for Buffalo.
“Let’s go Buff-a-lo,” the fans in the arena chanted.
Goaltender, Ryan Miller, was phenomenal between the pipes as he helped the Buffalo Sabres finish a grueling month on a high note.
Miller made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Center, Tim Connolly, scored his fourth goal in three games and left wing Daniel Paille scored for Buffalo.
The Sabres won for the fifth time in seven games and finished 9-4 in January, despite playing all, but three games on the road.
The climax of the game happened in the first period with 10 penalties and a fight between Buffalo's right wing, Patrick Kaletta and Phoenix left winger, Daniel Carcillo.
Then, at 17:16 in the first period, Buffalo's, Nathan Paetsch and Phoenix's, Carcillo were penalized a total of 12-minutes each for unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing and misconduct when another fight broke out.
(Check out more penalty statistics at http://sports.cbs5.com/nhl/boxscore.asp?gamecode=2009013124&home=24&vis=2)
Miller was rarely tested and made his best save on Shane Doan’s short-handed chance in the second period.
Phoenix lost its third straight since the All-Star break last week—the last two by shutout—and slipped behind Anaheim into a four-way tie for seventh place in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes have not scored in their last 142:36.
The Sabres scored twice in just more than four minutes in the second period.
Phoenix's, Ilya Bryzgalov, appeared to stop Thomas Vanek’s shot from the right side at 4:21 in the second period, but the puck trickled into the crease behind the goalie’s back. Connolly swept in from the left and chipped the puck in from just in front of the goal line.
Connolly has seven goals and two assists in his last six games, and nine goals in 16 games this season.
Paille made it 2-0 at 8:44 when he took a pass from Derek Roy, who had a fantastic game, at the right of the net and one-timed a shot into the upper left corner. Paille’s goal was his first since Dec. 22.
That was enough offense for Miller, who stopped 15 shots in the first period and 13 more the rest of the day for his first shutout since Dec. 19 against Los Angeles.
The Coyotes were zero-for-seven on the power play and are zero-for-13 in their last two games.
Buffalo had lost three straight to Phoenix dating from Jan. 18, 2003.
Phoenix right-winger, Peter Mueller, missed his second straight game, because of a concussion. Buffalo center, Adam Mair, was scratched for the second straight game with a leg injury.
Before the game, the Coyotes recalled center, Joel Perrault, from San Antonio of the American Hockey League. Perrault, who has appeared in 80 career games with Phoenix and St. Louis, has eight goals and 21 assists in 20 games for the AHL Rampage.
Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report.
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