Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Both the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres will be in action tonight finish off a back-to-back homestand to start the season while the Sabres head to Chicago to face the Blackhawks in their second game of this young season.
The Amerks are coming off a 6-1 drubbing of the Adirondack Flames in their opener. After a sluggish start, Rochester potted three goals in both the second and third periods as six different Amerks scored.
Tim Schaller opened up the scoring shaking off a Flames defender and rifling a quick shot low, far-side. After Adirondack tied it, Mikhail Grigorenko snapped a wicked wrister top-shelf and Chad Ruhwedel buried a 4-on-3 powerplay goal to put the Amerks up by two.
Assisting on the Grigorenko goal was Joel Armia and head coach Chadd Cassidy, after juggling lines to try and find something that worked, thinks he may have found a good combination. "Once we got Grigorenko and Armia together, they dominated from the second period on," he said in today's pregame interview with Don Stevens.
Matt Ellis and Phil Varone (PP) also scored while Armia scored on a penalty shot.
It was a sweet move by Armia as he came in and faded left all the way to the goal line before snapping one under the crossbar.
Thanks to the Rochester Americans, here are the highlights:
The following is a stat-line for a few of the Rochester players:
Grigorenko, 1g, 15 PIM
Armia, 1g, 1a, 17 PIM
Schaller, 1g, 10 PIM
So what's wrong with this picture?
Grigorenko, Armia and Schaller were all on the ice with Nick Petrecki and Jerome Leduc when a brawl broke out and those inflated penalty minutes are a direct result of their participation in it.
Schaller exchanged blows with the Flames Mark Cundari. Grigorenko took a pretty good beating before Leduc came to his rescue. Armia danced then body-slammed his partner and a visibly ticked off Petrecki hammered away at his opponent.
The ring-side video from, and much thanks to, Christopher Herman:
Cassidy was please with his team's performance as well as the way they stuck together at the end during the brawl, "We talk a lot about our identity," the coach said, "We want to be a team that's greater than all of it's parts. That means that means everybody's gonna have to do some things that they might not be comfortable with.
"You see guys like Grigorenko and Armia out there near the end of the game fight, that's not necessarily what we wanted but that's necessary at certain times of the year. We have to develop that identity that we're team tough and everybody's going to be in this thing together. And it was nice to see them come together on the first night."
Funny. I never remember the old "core" coming together like that. Ever.
The Sabres, meanwhile are coming off of a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a game where they were outshot 40-22, which doesn't include the five goalposts the Jackets hit that game.
It was a good performance by the Sabres on the whole even though they could only muster one goal. That one came on a determined effort by Zemgus Girgensons who corralled the puck and barreled towards the net. Just before being knocked off of his skates he lifted one into the net.
As a team, Buffalo skated well, especially Tyler Myers who was going up and down the ice non-stop. It looked as if he was back in his rookie season.
But they faced a talented team that went to the playoffs last year and tonight they face the Hawks who have won two cups (2010 and 2013) in the last five years and boast a five game winning streak over the Sabres during that span.
Unlike Columbus, the Hawks will be healthy and it will be a tough task for the Sabres, especially on the road at the Madhouse on Madison.
Of note for tonight, Cody McCormick is questionable while head coach Ted Nolan switched Girgensons and rookie Sam Reinhart.
Girgensons will be skating between Cody Hodgson and Brian Gionta while Reinhart will be between two behemoths in Marcus Foligno and Chris Stewart.
On the move, Nolan said, "Just maybe give the young kid a little bit more safety … with those two guys and get Gionta and Cody some speed in the middle.”
Game time is at 8:30.