Any shot in the NHL is dangerous, as the Buffalo Sabres learned tonight in their 1-0 shutout loss to the Florida Panthers.
In a game where both goaltenders put on dazzling performances and offense was faint, a seemingly-harmless shot gave the Florida Panthers their first win on the season and the Sabres another disappointing end to a contest inside First Niagara Center.
“It’s hard to win games in this league,” said Jhonas Enroth, “and we have to put in a full sixty-minute effort to win games this year.”
Effort was clearly not an issue for the young Swede as stopped 34 of 35 Florida shots, but the rest of the Sabres came out flat to start the contest. They were lucky to escape the first period unscathed after they were outshot 16-3 alone in the opening twenty minutes, even while they had two power play opportunities.
That luck eventually ran out in the following period, where Florida finally broke the stalemate at 3:01 the second frame. After a scramble in the Buffalo corner, Panthers winger Sean Bergenheim got his stick on the puck and slapped it past a number of players—including an unsuspecting Enroth—for his first goal on the season. Former Sabre Brad Boyes assisted on the score.
A golden opportunity presented itself to the Sabres in the form of an extended 5-on-3 power play in the third period, but Florida netminder Roberto Luongo fended off all shots that came his way until Chris Stewart eventually received a and brought the Buffalo power play to a halt.
Luongo finished the night with 26 saves altogether en route to posting a shutout that ironically was one year to the date when he shut out the Sabres in a game while he was a Vancouver Canuck.
After coming off a hard-fought win on the road in Carolina where Buffalo put up their best offense so far in this early season, it was just as surprising as it was disappointing to see their offense fail tonight against another rebuilding club in the Panthers.
“We’re not happy, were definitely not happy,” said Sabres head coach Ted Nolan on his team’s performance. “I don’t think we put two passes together all night. We have to be a hard working team.”
The Sabres don’t have long to patch things up. Buffalo will be in action again tomorrow evening when they welcome division rival Boston to the two club’s first meeting on the year. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM Saturday night and air on MSG.
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