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Game Recap

Sabres quieted by Panthers

Recap

For the second straight game, Buffalo’s much-maligned defense showed dramatic improvement, but it failed to secure a second straight victory as the offense went utterly cold against the visiting Florida Panthers.

“We played a solid first period then made some poor choices that led to penalties,” said Sabres head coach Phil Housley following the loss. “We got away from what we were doing well and our defense got worn down.”

While neither team played a particularly vigorous first period – which saw the Sabres and Panthers combine for just 14 shots – it was Buffalo who found the scoreboard first.

Their earliest sign of offense came in a form that’s been unfamiliar of late – a power play goal. The tally came at 13:02 of the opening period, when Kyle Okposo tapped home a shot from Victor Antipin while parked in front of the Florida crease. The goal was Buffalo’s first with the man advantage in four games, and only their second in the previous 26 opportunities; a troubling stat that’s the culprit behind their 30th-ranked power play.

Their scoring never came back to life, while the Panthers gradually found some gusto as the game went on. Buffalo’s defense was weathered away as the offense went dormant, leading to four straight Florida goals. The Panthers’ first tally came¬†during a breakdown in the Buffalo crease during the second period, where the Panthers were allowed to toss multiple shots point blank at Robin Lehner before Evgenii Dadanov finally beat him.

The last goal that Lehner would surrender came early in the third period on a perfectly-placed shot from Ian McCoshen, who managed to slip one through what scant room Lehner left between himself and the pipe. Florida’s final two goals were effortless empty netters from Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck.

Lehner’s efforts were more than admirable on the evening, as he stopped 27 of 29 Florida shots, including one particular robbery in the first where he booted away a 1-on-0 chance by Florida following a giveaway in the Buffalo zone. The penalty kill also stood tall, never relenting against any of the Panthers’ three power play opportunities.

But on a night where Lehner was making more saves than Buffalo was shots on net, the ultimate culprit falls to everyone outside the Sabres’ crease. With the loss, Buffalo falls to a depressing tie for dead last in the Eastern Conference – a tie that only exists because they have a game in hand on the Panthers.

“We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent,” Kyle Okposo simply lamented post-game.

Buffalo will have little time to waste in getting their skates under them again. They’ll head out to Montreal tonight to meet with the Canadiens for a Saturday evening meeting in the Bell Center. That game between these two longtime rivals will be their first since Buffalo’s opening night on the regular season, where they dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 shootout loss at home inside the KeyBank Center.

Scoring

Penalties

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NHL Standings

DIVTEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
A5839-16-381
A5535-12-878
A5935-19-575
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
M5733-17-773
M5933-22-470
M5829-19-1068
Wild Card leaders:
M5729-20-866
M6029-25-664
-----------------------------------------
M5829-24-563
M5927-23-963
M5827-26-559
A5425-23-656
A5623-24-955
A5722-28-751
A5620-27-949
A5817-30-1145
DIVTEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
C5634-13-977
C5834-15-977
C5834-20-472
Pacific Division Leaders:
P5738-15-480
P5831-19-870
P5830-20-868
Wild Card leaders:
C6034-22-472
C5731-20-668
-----------------------------------------
P5928-20-1167
C5731-22-466
P5730-22-565
C5824-26-856
P5623-29-450
P5822-30-650
P5816-32-1042
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