A little over two minutes into the third period of Buffalo's 3-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks last night, there was silence emanating from the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box at KeyBank Center. It wasn't a full broadcast malfunction as audio from the ice was still coming over the airwaves and analyst Rob Ray would still interject with his insight.
There was no Rick Jeanneret.
The legendary Sabres play-by-play has been putting his listeners smack-dab in the middle of the on-ice action dating back to Buffalo's second season in 1971-72 and it was strange when things went silent. Come to find out that the 76 yr. old was wheeled off from the press box on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
Prior to being felled everything was quite normal with Jenneret save for the Santa outfit he had on while doling out treats to the fans directly below the box prior to the game. But in those few minutes when there was dead-air from his mike, we Sabres fans realized just how much he's woven into our Buffalo hockey experience. Kudos to studio host Brian Duff for coming in cold and calling the last 15 minutes or so as he did a standup job, but for a brief moment, life without Jeanneret left us with an empty feeling.
However, there is good news, according to The Athletic's John Vogl, Jeanneret tweeted, "still kicking" earlier this morning.
Long may you run, Rick.
As for the Sabres, they did well last night in stopping a two-game slide and will head into the Christmas break on a positive note. The win puts Buffalo at 21-11-5 on the season as we near the mid-point and it also kept two Atlantic division opponents at bay for now. Both the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins won yesterday and the Sabres win kept them three and four points ahead of those two teams, respectively, for third place in the division. The second place Toronto Maple Leafs also won and maintained their three point lead over Buffalo while playing one less game.
Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark got his second shutout of the season and improved his record to 8-1-3 on the year after stopping all 40 Anaheim shots on goal. All three of Buffalo's big guns got on the scoresheet last night as Jeff Skinner had a goal, while Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart had two assists each. The trio has been on a tear dating back to mid-November. In the last 19 games Eichel has 29 points (10+19,) Reinhart 24 (6+18) and Skinner has scored 14 goals while adding five assists.
Eichel now has 48 points on the season placing him tied for seventh in the league and Skinner's 26 goals has him second behind Alexander Ovechkin (29.) Captain Jack's 34 assists ties him for fifth overall and Reinhart comes in at No. 16 with 28 assists.
Another of the bottom-nine got off the schneid last night as winger Conor Sheary sent home an empty-netter. Although he didn't make much of it after the game, he told the gathered media after "it looks the same on the scoresheet, I guess."
Buffalo is off the ice until they hold a morning skate on the 27th prior to their game against Ryan O'Reilly and the St. Louis Blues.
Until then, here's some heartwarming news from the Buffalo Sabres concerning Jeanneret:
Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who was hospitalized at Buffalo General Medical Center last night, is resting and doing well. On behalf of Rick and his family, we’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Rick looks forward to being back in the booth after the break.