In the battle of former Vezina trophy winners, Ryan Miller outmatched Jose Theodore to lead the Buffalo Sabres over the Florida Panthers Thursday night in Sunrise, Florida.
Both esteemed netminders were sharp, but Miller was perfect on the night with 22 saves for his first shutout of the season, and the 23rd of his career.
The win was the Sabres’ third in a row, putting them at three-for-three thus far on their current four-game road trip and a perfect 4-0 in road games this season.
The first period was a quiet one, where both teams traded shots but offered no big scoring chances for a lengthy stretch of time. It was only when Theodore stoned Pominville on a breakaway several minutes in that either team was able to wake up the crowd of 14,811.
But it wasBuffalo who was first to find their way onto the scoreboard. Early in the second period, Tyler Myers fought along the boards in the Florida end to secure the puck before getting it to Jason Pominville. The Sabres captain took a shot from the point, which Thomas Vanek deflected past Theodore as he parked himself in front of the net for his fifth goal of the year.
The Sabres added to their lead with just over three minutes left in the period when Pominville notched his own goal. Pressure by the Sabres in theFloridaend caused a turnover, which Ville Leino picked up as he and Pominville strode to the net 2-on-1. Acrisp pass from Leino reached Pominville, who tapped it in on Theodore’s vulnerable side to put the Sabres up 2-0.
In between the Buffalo goals was a yet another gritty fight featuring Paul Gastaud. As soon as the puck dropped for a neutral zone faceoff 11 minutes into the period, the Goose and Matt Bradley dropped the gloves. What occurred was Gaustad’s second fight this season where he bloodied up his opponent, one which could’ve impressed even the likes of Ultimate Fighting Championships superstars Jon Jones and BJ Penn.
Buffalo completely took over the game in the third period, largely in part to continued pressure in the Florida zone. With under three minutes left in the game,Buffalo was on the power play and dealt a final blow to the Panthers. Vanek found himself all alone with the puck at Theodore’s left side before firing a brutal slapshot into the top shelf for his second tally on the night.
The Panthers, meanwhile, only managed six shots on goal through the third frame. Like the 16 which came before, none of those could beat Miller. The Sabres’ star goaltender has now faced 63 shots and played 120 minutes in two games while only giving up a single goal. The Sabres as a team have now only allowed ten goals in six games.
Discipline also led to the Sabres victory this evening. Florida came into the game with the 2nd best power play in the league, but only had one power play opportunity throughout the contest. During said power play, they fired a measly two shots, and only one of which was credited as a shot on net.
The Sabres will finish their current road trip this Saturday at 7:00 PM when they visit the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay, Florida to meet with the Lightning. It appears likely at this point that Jhonas Enroth will get the start in net for Buffalo that night.