It looked as if the Sabres were in control, but a questionable penalty late in the third period turned the tide, allowing the Panthers to score a pair of goals and skate off with a 3-2 victory.
The stunned crowd at the First Niagara Center left the building in disbelief as the Sabres third period collapse dropped Buffalo to 1-3 in the building.
A questionable tripping call to Nathan Gerbe put the Sabres down a man, and a little mouthing off earned Gerbe an extra two minutes in the box. Florida didn’t waste much time, tying the game with four minutes remaining, but they weren’t done.
The Panthers would go ahead with a goal from Jason Garrison that deflected off of Derek Roy’s stick and into the net for the 3-2 lead. With Miller pulled, the Sabres created some chances, but couldn’t beat Jose Theodore for a third time.
The Sabres applied some quick pressure right after the opening faceoff, but were unable to capitalize. Early in the first period, Matt Ellis redirected the puck into the net off of his skate, but after video review, it was ruled no goal.
Coming out of the penalty box after serving his tripping minor, Marco Sturm received a breakaway pass, but was denied by Miller.
It wasn’t until the second period when Florida got on the board first, with a backhanded wraparound goal that snuck by Miller for the 1-0 lead.
The Sabres had an opportunity on the man advantage, but the power play unit failed to get any kind of momentum going. The crowd at the First Niagara Center began booing the Sabres due to the poor effort with the extra man.
Late in the second period, the Sabres leading goal scorer cashed in again. Thomas Vanek made it look easy after faking going to the front, and skated behind the net to score the wraparound goal. It was Vanek’s eighth goal of the season and tied the game at one.
After being hooked from behind while on a breakaway, Vanek drew the penalty, and the Sabres took advantage of it. From his knees, Brad Boyes fed a one-timer to Jason Pominville, who ripped it home giving the Sabres a 2-1 lead.
The Sabres fell to 6-4 with the loss, while Florida improved to 6-4. Buffalo are now off until Wednesday, when they will host Philadelphia for the first time since the postseason. Saturday’s game against Florida is a tough pill to swallow, but the matchup against the Flyers should give the Sabres all the motivation they need to get back on track.