On the plaza before the game...
Welcome back The Earl of Bud!!!
It was over....all over. Just 16 seconds remained and then the Sabres would head to New York to face their elimination on Sunday.
At least that's what about 95% or so of me was thinking before that fateful faceoff.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Drury on the ice and thought "you know....maybe."
And then it happened, Drury nailed the tying goal with seven seconds left and in that instant the agony of defeat became the thrill of...ummm....well....extra time. The shock and devastation of the Rangers late third period goal changed to outright euphoria. Much as I love Rick Jennaret, Van Miller's "Fandemonium" call would have been at least as appropriate for that moment.
And "Fandemonium" would strike in the overtime as well when Maxim Afinogenov, he who was relegated to the bench in game four tipped in the game winner to send HSBC Arena into a frenzy and the Sabres into control of this series with a 3-2 series lead. This could easily be called the most electric moment in this postseason, and the crowd replied by practically blowing the roof open.
A loss by the Sabres would have been devastating not just from the standpoint of falling behind in the series but also from the fact that this was their best effort of the round, if not the entire postseason. Buffalo peppered Henrik Lundqvist with forty shots in this one and from the second period on owned this one but couldn't solve the Swedish netminder. And when the Rangers went up with under four minutes left....well one could feel the game, and maybe the season slipping away.
"I knew that there wasn't much time left.....didn't know seven seconds" said Drury when asked about the game tying goal for Buffalo.
A beaming Max told the press, "This was the best goal of my career." Lindy Ruff added, "He got the biggest hug from me on the runway.... Max was himself tonight. He was the old Max and that is what we needed.
Paul Gaustad got his licks and hits in early and was happy to be playing tonight, although he seemed to tire in the late stages, which wouldn't be unusual. Would they have been toast if they had lost tonight? Said Gaustad, "Had we lost we felt we could pick right up and take it to them in game 6. But now we have the chance to put this one away"
Random stuff from tonight.....
Jerseys spotted in the crowd: Drury's BU, Stafford's ND, and Max's Team Russia in the house tonight. The winner is the Lydman Team Finland jersey though.
Game 5! Featuring special guest star.....The Earl of Bud! What a great moment as the Earl made an all too rare appearance in tonight's game and brought the house down with his epic rendition of "Tequila".....could have sworn the dude was dead or something.
Crowd estimate in the Party In The Plaza..about 4500 on a perfect spring night in Buffalo.
As reported to me by Andrew, spotted leaving his seats and exiting the arena with 16.7 seconds left: NYS Senator Bill Stachowski (D-Cheektowaga) and his companion. Hey Billy, hope you at least had the radio on in your car! And "ha-ha" to any of you morons who left the building during the timeout!
So Sunday it is Buffalo's turn to ride into Manhattan on Cloud Nine...puck drops on the MSG slush at 2PM.