For the second time this season, the Florida Panthers threw shot after shot at Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth with little success, but this time they managed to escape with a win. Brad Boyes scored the game-tying goal at the 9:16 mark of the third period and netted the only goal of the shootout, in the third round, to give the Cats a 2-1 victory.
After a scoreless first period, defenceman Jamie McBain beat Tim Thomas after taking a sweet feed from Steve Ott to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead in the second. Matt D'Agostini picked up the other assist on McBain's third of the season.
Boyes finally got the Cats on the board midway through the final frame when he tipped a Tom Gilbert shot past Enroth. Sean Bergenheim took the initial shot which came out to Gilbert high in the slot. The goal was Boyes' team-leading twelfth.
In the shootout, Boyes gave Florida the road win by firing the puck off the post and then the back of Enroth's leg after Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau failed to score in the first two rounds. Huberdeau did beat Enroth, but was ruled to have pushed the keeper's pad into the net and the goal was disallowed. It absolutely looked like the puck was already past the line to me, thankfully Boyes' tally rendered any dispute moot.
Thomas finished the game with twenty-three saves and stopped all three Buffalo attempts in the shootout to post his eleventh win of the season, lowering his GAA to 2.60 in the process. The Sabres' Enroth turned aside 34 shots in the losing effort.
Florida carried the play throughout most of this one and were ultimately rewarded with a much-needed two points. The game shouldn't have gone to extra time, but the goal-challenged Cats hit the post a number of times and also had another potential Boyes marker waved-off due to an injury to Dmitry Kulikov. The Panthers will finish off their three-game road trip Saturday night against former coach Peter DeBoer and the New Jersey Devils.
Odds & Ends
- Aleksander Barkov had his six-game scoring streak snapped. Barkov had a nice chance on a first period power play, but was denied by Enroth. The rookie was on the ice for Boyes' game-tying goal and picked up a plus.
- Speaking of the power play, it continued to sputter, going a disappointing 0 for 4. At a loss for words here...
- The defeat dropped Enroth's record to 1-9-3. He's playing well enough to get named to Sweden's Olympic team, but has only gotten seventeen goals of support from his Sabres teammates in his starts... poor guy.
- Hats off to veteran defender Brian Campbell, who suited for his 800th NHL game last night. The first 391 of those came with the Sabres, so hitting the milestone in Buffalo must of have been nice
- The Cats ended Buffalo's five-game home winning streak. The Sabres did manage a point and are now 6-0-2 in their last eight at First Niagara Center. New GM Tim Murray, a former Panthers scout, was in the building getting a bird's-eye-view of the challenge that awaits him.
- Florida is now 14-12-3 under coach Peter Horachek and moved past the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings. The Cats are seven points out of the final wildcard spot, which is currently held by the surging Carolina Hurricanes, who have a game in hand on the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. That trio of teams has 47 points to the Panthers' 40.
- For more on the Sabres and last night's game check out Die By The Blade.