As usual in the games lately, the Florida Panthers did everything correctly, had great goaltending and controlled much of the play. Tonight however, Florida wouldn't get the win. If you're searching for reasons to bump the Panthers down a notch, you won't find them in this game; the goaltending was spectacular and the Sabres never took a hold of a visibly tired Panthers team. Both Buffalo goals came on breakaways, not five on five collapses or spotty penalty killing. Liken this game to the LA game of a week ago, Florida had a pretty good loss, if those truly exist.
The Sabres certainly deserve credit, much like the Panthers they've been struck with key injuries at inopportune times and beat Florida with their fair share of call-ups on the bench. Understandably though, I'd like to see this game played again with two rested teams hitting the ice.
-The Buffalo perspective at Die By The Blade
1st: Scott Clemmensen and Ryan Miller would be the starting goaltenders for the night, and Florida would take an early bench minor for too-many-men. Buffalo never set much up, in fact Florida would have a few short-handed chances; the best being Stephen Weiss' shot off the post. Buffalo would take a goaltender interference penalty when Brayden McNabb bowled over Clemmensen. Florida had some chances but the best shots would be blocked as the penalty expired. Evgenii Dadonov would be the next player to be called, this time a hooking penalty in the defensive zone. Derek Roy would get a nice rebound attempt but Clemmensen cut down the angle to keep the game scoreless. Tim Kennedy would take a high sticking minor just a minute later(Florida's third of the period) but it would be killed off. Derek Roy would catch the Panthers sleeping and score on a breakaway to put the Sabres up 1-0 at the end of the period.
2nd: As the second period started, you could see the tired legs from the Boston game just 24 hours take its toll as the Panthers skaters slowed down considerably. Marco Sturm would take a hooking call in the offensive zone, but again the penalty killers would deny Buffalo from capitalizing. Tomas Kopecky would get cross checked in front of Miller, Christian Ehrhoff would take the penalty. Nine seconds into the powerplay, Jochen Hecht would interfere with Weiss to give Florida a long 5-on-3. It wouldn't take long to take advantage, Jason Garrison would make it look easy with a one timer from between the circles to tie the game (assists to Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg). Florida would enter the locker room with a hint of momentum and a sigh of relief once the Miller code had been cracked.
3rd: The third period would start out a bit slow (like the last 40 minutes) with neither team generating many chances. Thomas Vanek would take a high sticking penalty after hitting Kopecky in the face, but Florida never put many shots on goal. Kopecky would later take a penalty himself with a hooking call, but Brian Campbell would bail his team out with a few timely blocked shots. That would be about it for the period, this game was going to the extra frame.
Overtime: Despite a few good shifts in the Sabres zone, the Buffalo would score the only way they could this game; on the breakaway. Jason Pominville would catch a long outlet pass and sneak one past Clemmensen to end the game, 2-1 Sabres.
- Tomas Kopecky is great at getting his stick in the passing lane, it's surprising he doesn't get breakaways more often.
- Can Buffalo go back to the Buffaslug jerseys? Their third jersey is as hideous as ours.
- Dmitry Kulikov put a huge hit on Corey Tropp, who wouldn't return to the ice. Reports are an upper body injury and another tough break for the depleted Sabres.
- Scary moment for Flash when he was checked into the boards in front of the Buffalo bench. The door would open and Tomas would catch his shoulder on the corner, which resulted in what looked like a shoulder injury. Florida may have dodged a bullet, as he'd return for the primary assist on the Garrison goal.
- Pretty slow night in Buffalo, but you can't exactly expect Florida to have fresh legs after a nail-biter with the league's hottest team the night before.
- I haven't been impressed much by Dadonov lately, he's been a pylon out there.
- Florida's PK went a perfect 5-for-5 on the night.
- Hey, at least the Cats earned a point. 37 points put Florida ahead of Washington by 6 points and tie Philadelphia for first in the conference. Not bad.
Up Next: The sharp shooting, Andre Deveaux-less New York Rags. Sit down Barch, no penalties please.