Saturday, March 8, 2014

San Jose Sharks @ Buffalo Sabres, February 28, 2014

The San Jose Sharks played their second game of a road back-to-back in Buffalo, having dominated Philadelphia the night before.  Would lightning strike twice?  Would there be any trade deadline drama?  Here are some of the photos I took during the game.

It goes without saying, but Buffalo in February is COLD.  So cold that a hockey arena seems balmy.

Micah and Bill trudge through the cold to the First Niagara Center, formerly HSBC Arena.

I was wearing glasses since I couldn't take my contact solution on my carry on... thanks TSA.

I felt like I was entering a grand hotel, with this marquee.

Confession = Buffalo has been my second favorite team for quite some time.  How appropriate that I saved them for last in my visits to the Eastern Conference arenas.

Micah was like a little dog, wanting to mark his territory wherever he went.  Not that I was complaining.  Here he is trying to get clever with the Sabres' mascot, Sabretooth.

Micah's manic expression is half of the fun of this photo.

Knuckles from Sabretooth...

...and an official pose with the This Is Sharks Territory sign!  Micah's trolling knows no bounds.

Best bathroom sign ever.

Time to get situated in our seats before warm-ups.

Two Stanley Cup appearances, but just as Cup-less as San Jose.

Quite a bit of teal present in Buffalo.

I spent half of warm-ups looking for Ryan Miller, the longtime Sabres goaltender (and the MVP of the Vancouver Olympics)... why couldn't I find him?

Matt Nieto stretching...

We weren't the only ones with Sharks Territory signs.

Joe Pavelski ends his interview with Drew Remenda.

It was right about this time that word started getting out...

TRADE = Ryan Miller AND Steve Ott (booooo...) were just traded.  Eventually it became clear that they were headed to St. Louis.  Instead of seeing Ryan Miller's last home start (which most people expected), we would be seeing the first game in the post-Miller era.

These fans were up for that... how dangerous could backup Jhonas Enroth be?

Gold-medalist Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Some more warm-up pics.

This was probably the last day Buffalo fans would see this inside the arena.  [Ryan Miller, for the uninitiated]

Micah strikes again!

One of the greatest lines in the history of hockey (and certainly one of the best names) = The French Connection (RIP Rick Martin).

Time for the anthems... plural.  Buffalo is the only American NHL team that always performs O Canada, regardless of the opponent.  You can see the arena from Ft. Erie, Ontario, for what that's worth.

Smudged glass-view of the opening faceoff.

Joe Thornton vs. Drew Stafford

Things were getting heated early on.

Fourth line trying to work its mojo.

James Sheppard, who would get on the board later in the game.

Despite being outshot heavily by San Jose, Buffalo would end the first period with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Cody Hodgson (the goal took place on the other end of the ice).

Intermission with Sabretooth and some mini Sabres.

Antti Niemi

Dan Boyle

Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle

Henrik Tallinder

Cody Hodgson and Matt D'Agostini

GOAL!  Micah was pumped.

James Sheppard tied the game in the 2nd period.

That would be the only goal of the 2nd period... but boy oh boy would there be scoring in the 3rd.

The first of two Jumbotron farewells - Buffalo captain (and all-around villain) Steve Ott.

This is a Sharks fan, applauding Steve Ott.  Note the sarcastic smile.

Well crap - Buffalo got 2 goals in just over 3 minutes (from Brian Flynn and the soon-to-be-traded Matt Moulson).  Not looking good.  

An even more emotional farewell - to Ryan Miller (note former Shark Christian Ehrhoff with him).

Final minutes of the game... would San Jose respond?

YES THEY WOULD - Patrick Marleau made it 3-2 with 75 seconds to go.

By the way, these guys were rooting for the right team, but were highly annoying in the third period (standing up when they shouldn't be, banging on the glass whenever someone passed by... you get the idea).

One such obnoxious moment, after play resumed.

C'mon boys!

The Sharks' big guns were all out for the final seconds of regulation (6-on-5).

Do you believe in miracles?

Not tonight - Buffalo's Tyler Myers scored an empty-netter with 21 seconds left, to make it 4-2.

This would hold up as the final score, and I would realize shortly thereafter that I had just flown across the country to see my hockey team lose.  Sigh.

Kudos to my second favorite hockey team, however, especially after such an emotional trade.

Jhonas Enroth stopped 36 of 38 shots - not bad for a backup thrust in the starting role.  By the way, that's Ryan Vinz in the cap, who was called upon to be Enroth's backup just a few hours before the game.  He used to be the video goaltending coach at Clarkson University, and Buffalo needed anyone with some goaltending experience.

Coming up next - Niagara Falls.  Stay tuned.

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