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Bandits' live blog from HSBC Arena

6:38 p.m. -- Good evening from downtown Buffalo, where the Bandits are ready to take on the Minnesota Swarm tonight. As usual, the game will be shown on, and I'll be here to add comments as the game goes along.

You'd have to think the Bandits have picked a good time to play Minnesota. The Swarm played last night in Toronto, while Buffalo has been resting. However, Minnesota did end a five-game losing streak with a win against the Rock, so it has a little momentum.

Mark Steenhuis of the Bandits was listed as questionable entering the game. He skipped most of the morning shootaround with an undisclosed injury, but took some shots on his own and is working out with the rest of the team as we speak, so I would guess he'll be ready to go.

7:09 p.m. -- We will be sold out tonight once again. I heard this morning that there were literally 12 single tickets remaining for the game.

That's pretty impressive. Someone commented that there were acres of empty seats in Toronto Friday night for the Swarm-Rock game, even though the attendance was announced in five figures.

7:12 p.m. -- The scratches for tonight have been announced. Billy Dee Smith, Joe Smith, Kyle Schmelzle, and Tom Montour will sit. Ken Montour will start in goal.

7:34 p.m. -- Steenhuis looked pretty healthy as he scored the game's first goal. He ripped a shot from his "office" on the left side. But Minnesota came right back to tie the game, 1-1.

7:48 p.m. -- Minnesota is doing a good job of controlling the tempo in the early going. The Bandits haven't had that many scoring opportunities so far. That's partially why the Swarm is ahead, 2-1. Lots of time left, though.

7:53 p.m. -- So much for control of play. The Bandits scored three goals in 70 seconds to take the lead. John Tavares had a particularly nice goal, cutting through traffic to the net and scoring from close range.

8:09 p.m. -- One of the odd sights at a Bandits' game comes at replay challenges. While the official look at a replay at the scorer's table, the fans right behind the table all stand up to see if they can watch the play as well. In this case, a Tavares goal was challenged by Minnesota but allowed to stand. 5-2, Buffalo.

8:17 p.m. -- Here's a difference between the teams. Buffalo's top goal-scorer is Steenhuis, who has 33 goals on the season including two tonight. Minnesota's leader is Ryan Ward with 18, and he's out of the lineup tonight. Aaron Wilson and Rory McDade are next with 11.

8:23 p.m. - Sean Greenhalgh scored a goal that looked like something of an optical illusion. During a power play he took a pass high in the slot with his back to the goal. So he flipped the ball backwards from his shoetops, and it went in. The Globetrotters would have been proud. But Minnesota has answered with three straight goals, cutting the lead to 8-6. Looks like we may have a matchup after all.

8:31 p.m. -- The Bandits go into intermission with an 8-7 lead. I don't think coach Darris Kilgour will be too happy about the way that half ended.

8:51 p.m. -- I saw the comment about a 19-9 Bandits' win. They'd better hurry. It's 8-8 early in the second half.

9:03 p.m. -- Speaking of hurrying, Minnesota has scored the last seven goals to take a 10-8 lead. Kevin Buchanan, who had five goals Friday, has a couple of more today.

9:07 p.m. -- Mike Accursi scored on a rebound to get Buffalo within one. The Bandits needed to score on the power play badly.

9:13 p.m. -- The Bandits only took four shots in the third quarter, hardly enough. Minnesota has a 10-9 lead after three quarters, with a 33-32 edge in shots.

9:23 p.m. -- Just when things were starting to look bleak for the Bandits, they score two short-handed goals during a major penalty and tie it up, 11-11. Steenhuis' third goal of the game tied it up.

9:34 p.m. -- Roger Vyse found his scoring touch at just the right time, getting a huge power-play goal to give the Bandits the lead, 12-11. Vyse looked like Phil Esposito (pardon the old-time hockey reference) when he took a pass in the slot and scored in traffic.

9:45 p.m. -- Just when it looked like the Bandits could relax for a moment, Minnesota scored twice within 13 seconds to close to within one with 3:15 to go. These guys just won't go away.

9:56 p.m. -- Indeed they didn't. Swarm wins, 16-15. I'm off to the locker room.

11:28 p.m. -- This was one exhausting night for the Bandits, who took some time to come out of the locker room after a disappointing loss. Usually Buffalo has the composure to hang on to a lead, particularly when it is three goals with a little more than four minutes to go. In other words, this one hurt.

"We have to learn that when we get up three goals, we have to get up six goals," Bandits' forward Accursi said. "We have to step on their throats. We didn't do that. We kept them in the game."

The Bandits get a week off to ponder their second loss of the season thanks to the All-Star Game. Buffalo plays in Rochester in two weeks.

--- Budd Bailey

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