After tough one-goal losses in Pittsburgh and Toronto, the Florida Panthers suffered their worst defeat of the season so far, falling 3-0 to the last place Buffalo Sabres in a Saturday matinee at KeyBank Center.
Anders Nilsson stopped all 33 Florida shots for his first shutout since he blanked the New Jersey Devils back on March 4, 2012.
The Sabres opened the scoring 7:47 into the tilt when veteran Brian Gionta found Johan Larsson in the right faceoff. Larsson beat Roberto Luongo with a wrist for his first of the season. Marcus Foligno picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Kyle Okposo scored a power-play goal at the 5:57 mark of the second period to put Buffalo up by two. Okposo knocked in the rebound of Sam Reinhart’s deflection of a Rasmus Ristolainen shot that caught iron before landing in a most opportune spot for the former Islander.
Reinhart would ice the game with Buffalo’s second power-play marker at 8:48 of the final frame. After Matt Moulson passed to him behind the net, Reinhart throw the puck out in front looking for a teammate. Instead, he caught Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk, who redirected the biscuit by a stunned Luongo with his skate.
The Panthers had plenty of shots and scoring chances, including a penalty shot by Vincent Trocheck in the third period, but the club’s stagnate offense continues to misfire.
Special teams also played a big part in the decision. The Sabres went a tidy 2 for 4 on the power play, while the Cats went 0 for 4 on theirs.
Florida will finish off its disappointing road trip in Detroit tomorrow, looking to get a much-needed win to bring two points out of a possible eight back home to Sunrise.
Swords & Tequila
- Press-boxers Shawn Thornton and Steven Kampfer made their season debuts in this one. Thornton essentially did nothing, finishing with a -1 rating, two giveaways and a missed shot. Kampfer wasn’t great either, collecting two minor penalties and also finishing -1 on the day. At least he managed a block and a hit.
- The shutout was just the second of Anders Nilsson’s NHL career and first in a Sabres uniform. His other one came when he was a member of the New York Islanders.
- The Panthers threw a lot of rubber Nilsson’s way. The Cats managed a robust 33 shots on goal, but another 28 either missed the net or were blocked. This is a huge reason way the team isn’t lighting the lamp.
- This was the first time Mark Pysyk and Dmitry Kulikov went head-to-head since being swapped for each other over the summer. Kulikov had a solid game which included a big hip check on Derek MacKeznie, while Pysyk scored one for his old team... ouch.
- Roberto Luongo finished with 22 saves and lost his second straight decision.
- Keith Yandle, in perhaps his best outing of the young season, had a game-high seven shots on goal. Brian Gionta and Sam Reinhart paced the Sabres with five apiece.
- Aleksander Barkov is scoreless in Florida’s last four games. That’s got to stop.
- Go ‘round the outside until you find Die By The Blade, They’ll have a different perspective on this first Cats - Sabres tussle.