Goals still might be hard to come by for the 2014-15 edition of the Florida Panthers, but Roberto Luongo's 26-save shutout made a second period Sean Bergenheim tally stand up for the Cats' first win under new head coach Gerard Gallant.
Bergenheim scored his first of the season 3:14 into the middle frame, from Brad Boyes and Dmitry Kulikov, to provide all the scoring, as Florida escaped Buffalo a with 1-0 decision. The assists were the first points for Boyes and Kulikov.
After outplaying Ottawa for much of their last game, the Panthers came into Buffalo determined to get the road trip off on the right foot. The Cats outshot the Sabres 16-3 in the first period, but couldn't beat Jhonas Enroth. The Sabres' netminder absolutely stoned Tomas Fleischmann after a Buffalo giveaway.
Bergy finally ended Florida's five-period scoring drought in the second, when he snapped a quick wrist shot through a screened Enroth's pads.
Luongo made two nice stops on Matt Moulson in the second period and was huge in helping the Panthers kill off a 5-on-3 Buffalo advantage in the third on his way to the 67th shutout of his career.
The Panthers killed off all five of Buffalo's man-advantages opportunities, but the Cats' power play woes continued as they also went 0 for 5.
Florida was desperate for a victory and the lowly Sabres were the perfect tonic. The Panthers have now won four-straight against Buffalo. The shots and power-play chances were there for more goals, so it's a little disappointing they only managed one, but that lone one goal equalled a much-needed two points, so I'm sure we'll all take it. The Cats face the 2-0-2 Washington Capitals tonight. Look for goaltender Al Montoya to make his first start of the season.
Odds & Ends
- Last night's game was the first of what should be many meetings between the top picks in the draft, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart.
- Roberto Luongo whitewashed the Sabres for the third-straight time. The first of the trio was when he still with Vancouver in 2013, and the second was on March 7th, a 2-0 Panthers win in his Florida return.
- Jimmy Hayes followed up his impressive season debut with 4 more shots on goal.
- Nick Bjugstad played his best game of the season so far, firing six shots on goals and finishing with 4 hits.
- The loss dropped the Sabres' record to 0-3 at First Niagara Center.
- Matt Moulson led all Buffalo shooters with 5 shots.
- The win was the first for Gerard Gallant in the NHL since his Columbus Blue Jackets beat St. Louis on November 9, 2006.
- Center Dave Bolland suffered a lower-body injury late in the game. Could we finally see Brandon Pirri tonight against the Capitals?
- Shuffe off to Die By The Blade for more on last night's action.