Buffalo managed to extend their point streak in Florida with a shootout loss against the Panthers. Both teams had their moments. The game looked more like a mid-season strategic battle than a rough and tumble playoff battle as Sabres fans have grown accustomed to in the past few weeks.
The Sabres jumped out to a very quick lead in the game. The line of Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno continued their torrid pace. Stafford found Ennis crashing the slot and Enzo snuck it five-hole on Jose Theodore for his 7th goal in 15 games. Foligno recorded the other assist.
Christian Ehrhoff showed his toughness and team spirit by engaging in a abbreviated bout with Kris Versteeg. The two squared off and after sizing each other up Ehrhoff threw a haymaker. The punch mostly missed and the two layers fell to the ice with Versteeg landing a shot on the way down. It was Ehrhoff’s 3rd fight of the season.
It took Florida most of the period to respond, but respond they did. A tired penalty killing unit couldn’t get to the point in time to block the Mikael Samuelsson slap shot that found the upper corner of the net. Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss were the assisting players on the equalizer.
Just a few minutes later John Madden struck for his second goal in two games. He led the puck in on the rush and fired it home himself, short side on Ryan Miller. Ed Jovanovski was the player who originally made the heads up player to spring Madden. Erik Gudbranson was given the other apple on the play.
The first period was one largely dominated by Buffalo. Florida only looked dangerous on the rush. The Panthers scored on 2 of their 4 shots in the first.
The second period saw its first big moment when Mike Weber came across the ice to label Tomas Kopecky with a green light hit. Weber then dropped the mitts with Shawn Matthias. Weber was not penalized on the play although the play may be reviewed as there may have been some head contact.
On the ensuing Buffalo power play Buffalo struck even. A Jason Pominville shot on net found its way to the slot area. Eventually is was Derek Roy who managed to stuff it In the net for his 15th goal of the season. Pominville had the only assist on the goal.
The third period was a chess match for much of the period, there was little free wheeling and the two teams traded chances and possession throughout. Neither team could break through and they headed to an overtime period. After a scoreless extra frame the game went to a shootout.
In the shootout Miller stopped John Madden, Mikael Samuelsson, Stephen Weiss, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim. while Theodore blocked attempts from Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Cody Hodgson, Brad Boyes, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. Wojtek Wolski snapped a shot over the glove of Miller in the second round before Tyler Ennis scored on a nice inside-outside move to even it up. After several more rounds Dimiti Kulikov scored on Miller to seal the victory for Florida.
Ryan Miller stopped 15 of the 17 shots he faced in regulation. Theodore recorded 24 saves on 26 shots faced.