Occasionally, legendary Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret has a call that is so good, you can’t help but chuckle. The past two nights, Buffalo has given him plenty of reasons for excitement.
In a gritty 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings on Friday, it was Buffalo’s penalty kill that killed off a Kyle Okposo minor before Okposo would be the beneficiary on a late Sabres power play with a great backhand finish in front to beat Detroit with 26 seconds remaining. Jeanneret’s call:
“Okposo is there to hammer it home and Buffalo wins it in OVERRRRTTIIIIIMMME!!!!”
Imagine an exciting comeback win like that where Ryan O’Reilly scored a beauty to force OT with Okposo winning it followed up by another thrilling come from behind 3-2 win in extras over close rival Montreal at Bell Centre. That’s exactly what happened. Buffalo twice came back to tie the score with Cody Franson scoring at 11:53 of the third period to send it to overtime.
As has been proven, Montreal is a tough place to win. Especially on a Saturday with Hockey Night In Canada and Habs ace Carey Price in net. That didn’t stop the Sabres from getting an emotional one-goal win over the Canadiens. They can thank starter Robin Lehner for that. Prior to defenseman Zach Bogosian beating Price at 1:48 of overtime, Lehner made an incredible save to deny Max Pacioretty of a certain goal. Here’s how it sounded from Jeanneret:
The call by Jeanneret is perfect. His level of enthusiasm and energy is still amazing. Even now in the latter stages of a Hall of Fame career, the affable 74-year old remains one of sports treasures. Someone who makes you feel like part of the moment. No matter where you are.
I had the pleasure of meeting him once while working the production truck for a Devils home game against the Sabres on a snowy night in February 2001. He was a class act. I told him about best friend Brian who has been a huge fan. He couldn’t have been nicer. He was making copies in the old press room at Continental Airlines Arena. That’s a game I still remember due to my scary trip home to Staten Island on 95. And of course, for Dominik Hasek, who got the shutout with Brian Rafalski’s apparent tying goal coming just a split second late.
It’s amazing to think that here’s a man who still is amazing at his job. Rick doesn’t travel much with the team. He does their home games. And for those nights when you get a chance to hear him whether it’s in Western New York or on Center Ice, do yourselves a favor and listen to the way he describes the action. But last night’s game wasn’t too far up in Montreal. Hockey fans got a treat.
With terms like, “Top shelf! Where Mama hides the cookies,” there’s no one more fun than Ricky J. A broadcaster I was introduced to on many a Hockey Night in South River, New Jersey by Brian and close buddies John and Tim.
Here is Franson’s winner and an excited bunch of Sabres pouring off the bench to celebrate the victory:
Coupled with a Toronto shootout loss to Ottawa, the Sabres pulled within four points of the final wildcard in a crazy race. If only it were that simple. With the Devils winning for a fourth time in five against the stumbling Flyers 4-1 on a pair of Miles Wood tallies, they’re now up to 49 points. Philadelphia remains stuck at 50 one behind the Leafs’ 51. Another Canes’ loss kept them at 49 along with the Panthers. Then come Buffalo at 47 along with Detroit, who host the Rangers on NBC today at 12:30 PM. The Islanders’ latest victory of 5-2 over the Kings puts them up to 46.
This is gonna be a truly unpredictable race for the final three months. No one is out of it. Everyone can make it. Don’t forget in the Atlantic, seven total points separate second place Ottawa from last place Tampa. With the fading Bruins looking in serious trouble clinging onto third with 52 just one up on Toronto and the pack right behind, anything is possible.