BUFFALO, NY - DEC 9: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Panthers shoots the puck as Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Sabres defends during their NHL game in Buffalo. (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
The Sabres have been hot lately, going 9-2-2 through their last 13 games. They start a short two-game Florida road trip tonight, going on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Florida is 19-9-8 at home, the Sabres have a 15-18-1 road record. This will be the Panther's 17th attempt to convert a three game winning streak into a four game winning streak since March 16th, 2008, having gone a combined 0-11-5 in their last 16 attempts. They have had 13 losing streaks of four games or more over that time.
The last time the Panthers squared off with the Sabres was on December 9th. Derek Roy (7) opened the scoring for the Sabres in the first, and Jason Garrison (9) answered with a power play marker in the second. After a scoreless third, Jason Pominville ended it two minutes into overtime with his 10th goal of the season. Ryan Miller stopped 22-of-23 Florida shots for the victory, while Scott Clemmensen allowed both goals on only 20 Buffalo shots. Clemmensen was optimistic about the game afterward,
"Not everything is going to be perfect," Clemmensen said. "We got a point, so we need to look at the bright side."
Panthers @ Sabres 12/09/11 (via NHLVideo)
Florida dropped the Boston Bruins, 6-2 on Thursday in a South Florida matchup. 11 Panthers got onto the scoresheet, featuring three assists by Brian Campbell, a goal and an assist by both Stephen Weiss (17) and Mikael Samuelsson (10), and John Madden's (1) first goal in nearly a year. Marcel Goc (10), Tomas Kopecky (8) and Wojtek Wolski (3) also scored for the Panthers. Brian Rolston (5) and Joe Corvo (4) lit the lamp for the slumping Bruins. Tim Thomas allowed all six goals on 29 Florida shots to take the loss, while Jose Theodore turned in another quality start for the Panthers, stopping 24-of-26 shots. Weiss talked afterward about how the Northeast Division really isn't that much better than the Southeast,
"It's realistic now that we can catch some teams," Weiss said. "We've got to stop looking behind and start looking forward and push ourselves that way. It makes it easier, too, when you're looking ahead instead of always looking back to who's chasing you."
Bruins @ Panthers 03/15/12 (via NHLVideo)
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The Sabres earned one point but lost the second to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, losing 5-4 in a shootout after Jamie McGinn scored a goal with two seconds remaining in the third. Marcus Foligno (2, 3) scored twice for the Sabres, Drew Stafford (14) notched a shorthanded goal, and Alexander Sulzer (1) potted his first marker of the season. Jamie McGinn (18, 19), David Jones (17), and Gabriel Landeskog (20) provided regulation goals for the Av's. Peter Mueller made the only goal in the shootout for the Colorado victory. Semyon Varlamov stopped 20-of-24 in the win, Ryan Miller stopped 38-of-42 for the loss. Mueller talked about the victory later,
"This is the biggest win of the year," Mueller said. "To go from zero points to getting two with seconds left, you don't make that stuff up. It just shows the character of this team in that we never quit."
Avalanche @ Sabres 03/14/12 (via NHLVideo)
Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold played 61 games for the Panthers in 2009-10, scoring seven goals and 11 assists with a minus-seven rating and 22 penalty minutes.
Matt Bradley and Jack Skille are both likely out for the rest of the season. Scottie Upshall is nearing return after having spent most of the season recovering first from a hip injury then later a sports hernia. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and forward Kris Versteeg will both be on the ice for tonight's matchup.
Panthers Starting Lineup:
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Wojtek Wolski
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Kris Versteeg
Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Jose Theodore is confirmed in net for the Panthers tonight.
Buffalo Sabres Injuries
Sabres Starting Lineup:
Corey Tropp - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Marcus Foligno - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer
Jordan Leopold - Brayden McNabb
Ryan Miller is confirmed as Buffalo's starter.
Top Corsi Panthers: (last five games)
Mikael Samuelsson - .593
Sean Bergenheim - .563
Ed Jovanovski - .523
Jason Garrison - .517
Erik Gudbranson - .516
Top Corsi Sabres: (last five games)
Patrick Kaleta .611
Nathan Gerbe .598
Ville Leino .572
Marcus Foligno .569
Christian Ehrhoff .566
Florida Panthers: 34-23-13, 81 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, 13th NHL, on pace for 95 points. Last five games: L-O-W-W-W. Playoff odds: 94%
Buffalo Sabres: 33-29-9, 75 points, third Northeast Division, 10th Eastern Conference, 21st NHL, on pace for 87 points. Last five games: W-L-W-W-O. Playoff odds: 9.3%
Season Series: 1-1-1
All-Time Series: 25-37-9
Game Time: 7:30 PM ET
For the Sabres point of view, check out Die By The Blade.
What is the most likely to occur tonight?
Krys Barch spends at least five minutes in the sin-bin (2 votes)
Brian Campbell assists on a Jason Garri-BOMB (3 votes)
Marcel Goc wins at least 70% of his faceoffs (2 votes)
Stephen Weiss ties and passes Nathan Horton with his 142nd and 143rd career goals (1 vote)
Kris Versteeg and Dmitry Kulikov both figure onto the scoresheet (7 votes)
Someone in the FS Florida booth mentions a lunchpail (21 votes)
36 total votes