Once upon a time, in a tiny western hamlet far, far away, there lived a little boy who wanted to be a goalie. His dad was a goalie and he did everything he could to help the boy become one too. As the little boy got older, he grew tall and quick. He spent his summers in goalie school and his winters winning hockey games. By the time the boy became a young man, he was a star. He was a gifted athlete and a proven winner. Everyone wanted him on their teams.
When the holy city of hockey came calling and sent him on a quest for hockey's Holy Grail, the young man answered with goodwill. It was no more than he expected on his charmed rise to prominence. Then the darkness descended. What had been right and perfect in his uphill journey became cursed and flawed once he reached the summit of his sport. Pucks he would have once snagged effortlessly out of the air instead bounced off the glass behind him and into his net. Playoff series he once would have dominated ended in embarrassment and criticism. Injuries happened, and the once-adoring public began to respond with censure and accusing eyes.
In the third year of his quest, the path grew darker. Nothing went right. Games in which he should have starred were ruined by weak goals. Games in which he did star were ruined by his teammates mistakes. He was pushed into the background and became an unhappy shadow of the promising emblem of hope he'd been once.
Then came the clash with Sabres. After working hard in obscurity for weeks, the young goalie finally got a chance for redemption in his darkest of seasons. It was a big game; an important game against a strong opponent. It was a curse-breaking kind of game in which a struggling hero might once again prove something to himself. He grabbed the chance with both hands and played a fantastic game. His teammates, for once, responded and gave him the chance to shine he needed. The scorers scored and the defenders stood their ground. Everyone believed the mysterious curse shadowing the young goalie might finally be broken.
It was not to be. For reasons known only to the hockey gods, the team got caught high-sticking with three minutes to go. The Sabres halved the lead. Then, the curse struck again when the coach inexplicably decided to send two of the team's worst defensive forwards out to protect a one-goal lead while outmanned with less than a minute to go. Predictably, they failed to clear the puck and the heroic goalie was beaten. Equally predictably, the deflated team failed to redeem itself in extra time. The complete collapse in what had been a perfect game proved the curse continues to linger.
The tales will say other things were responsible. Some will blame the awful coaching decision to send Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn out in the final minute. Others will say perhaps the Sabres goalie was better and held his team in it when they should have been down by more than two. Maybe they'll say the stronger team finally woke up and proved its mettle when it got desperate. Or that it could have been due to tired penalty killers who were obliged to defend a steady string of calls against when they were wearing down in the third. True believers know the real reason though. It's the curse. The poor, benighted young goalie is the victim of a malevolent force that's spoiling his every moment of success.
His brothers in arms must now find the way to break the spell, because no one man can do it on his own. Nobody knows if they'll find the answer before it's too late. That's a tale for another day.