Despite a new year here, the Buffalo Sabres offense didn’t give fans anything to celebrate on Friday night. The Sabres were blanked by the Florida Panthers, 2-0, at the First Niagara Center.
“We’re not shooting enough, the effort was there in the 2nd and 3rd but we blew the game in the 1st,” Ted Nolan said. “He held the fort for us pretty well, he gave us a chance.”
Roberto Luongo has had the Sabres number for a majority of his career, and tonight was no different. Luongo came into the game sporting a 12-6 record with a 1.84 GAA and a .940 save percentage against Buffalo during his career, including four shutouts.
The last time Luongo allowed a goal at the First Niagara Center was February 11th, 2006, when Jason Pominville ripped one by him. In nine career games in Buffalo, Luongo is 5-3 with a 1.11 GAA.
“Luongo played well, he’s a good goalie, they play a tight defensive game,” Tyler Ennis said. thought we got a little bit frustrated, Luongo made some good saves. We have to shake it off going to New York now.
The scoresheet was barely used in this one with only two goals and a pair of penalties handed out.
Brad Boyes opened the scoring early in the first period with a backhanded shot for his seventh of the year, which turned out to be the game-winner.
“The first goal was really the back-breaker, I don’t bare down on the puck and it ends up in the back of the net,” Tyson Strachan said.
Nick Bjugstad added another one in the Panthers’ first period attack, where they outshot Buffalo 19-7. Shots on goal evened up at the end, 33-30 in favor of Florida, but all the scoring happened in the first.
In the final seconds, a puck deflected past Luongo, but bounced off the crossbar, preserving the shutout for Florida. It is the seventh time the Sabres have been shutout this season, the second time to the Panthers.
After allowing two first period goals, Michal Neuvirth recovered and finished with 31 saves on 33 shots.
“Obviously a tough start,” Neuvirth said. “I have to be better early, and not allow those two goals. I’m proud of my mental toughness tonight, I was feeling better each minute, it felt good.”
The Sabres get right back to work on Saturday as they begin a four game road trip with a meeting against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. That game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on MSG.