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Mike Harrington: Fans delivered from the opening faceoff too

It started in the pregame warmup, of all things. There was actual noise as the Buffalo Sabres took the ice. Real applause. Like you see in a lot of other cities but not normally here.

Then the game started. And it was "KeyBank Library" no more.

"I figured with the 7:30 game and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving they might have a couple alcoholic beverages in them so they were going to be a little rowdy," a smiling defenseman Jake McCabe said of the team's fans after the 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.  "We definitely built off that early, were pumped up to get out there. We rallied around their energy and it was a blast."

Sure was. The building was packed to the rafters, the first sellout since opening night. But lots of people weren't in their seats in the first period -- because they were jumping out of them.

The Sabres ran the Philadelphia Flyers out of the building with three goals in the first nine minutes and had a 4-0 lead when the horn mercifully sounded to send the teams to the first intermission.

The crowd was starting its final-salute standing ovation with 15 seconds left but it got interrupted when Johan Larsson made like Rick Martin and burst down the left wing to sizzle a shot past overmatched Philly goalie Alex Lyon and make it 4-0 with eight seconds left.

And then Larsson turned pugilist, drubbing Scott Laughton in a sudden fight three seconds later. It was the Flyers' first scuffle of the season, an almost unbelievable factoid if you're old enough to remember the days of the Broad Street Bullies.

The fans roared. It's been years since the place seemed up for grabs like this.

"Laughton kept asking him and [Larsson] kept blowing him off because we were up," said Evan Rodrigues, who joined Larsson in the period by also scoring his first goal of the season. "I guess scoring that goal fired him up with that little bit extra, so he dropped them and he did a helluva job."

"We loved it," McCabe added. "Larry plays with such an edge. We call him 'Angry Larry' for a reason. He's an angry Swede out there. That's just Larry for you. Great goal, then a second later drops the glove with the other centerman and the building was going crazy."

The buzz in the building made me think of a conversation with Jason Pominville on Tuesday. He was here in the conference final days of 2006 and 2007. Now less than two weeks from turning 36, he knows what folks can do to make the building come alive.

Pominville sensed what was going on around town after that wild road trip to Winnipeg, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. The Sabres' young players, of course, have no idea what their home rink can be like -- and what it might be like as this season continues.

"Just wait, it's only just starting," was Pominville's message. "It only gets crazier as we go on. ... The atmosphere should be great."

Sure was. The Sabres skated the Flyers into the ground in that period. The national television audience had to be floored. The NHL has morphed into a league based on speed over physicality and the Sabres are now built on speed and coached for it. The timing is perfect for them, just like it was in 2005-06.

The difference is that Darcy Regier & Co. stumbled into good fortune back then when the league changed a lot of the rules coming out of the lockout. Jason Botterill and crew are building it this way with full intentions.

"Coming out for warmup we had the feeling it was going to be buzzing," Larsson said. "First period, they're on their feet cheering,  we scored early and got them going."

Mike Harrington: Feelings of Sabres' 2005-06 season are starting to creep in

American Thanksgiving is a watershed moment in the season to foreshadow who might make the playoffs. Since the 2013 lockout, 78 percent of the teams in a playoff spot when you slice your turkey have gone on to the postseason. Another good omen for the Sabres, who have won seven straight. On Thanksgiving Eve last year? They lost their seventh straight, a 5-4 decision to Minnesota to drop to 5-13-4.

Wednesday's game was far from perfect. The Sabres had only nine shots on goal over the final 40 minutes. They looked like their energy was sapped by the road trip and the buzz of the first period on the first night back home. In fact, they needed several timely saves by Carter Hutton to keep the Flyers at bay.

But the crowd never let up. They've waited years to yell like this. It's only November. Imagine what the next few months might be like.

"That was incredible. You want to continue to feed the crowd and continue to hear them roar," Rodrigues said. "I remember the first game of the year they were booing us and now it's just an incredible atmosphere. It's electric and we can't wait to hear more of it."

The Wraparound: Sabres 5, Flyers 2

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