The Buffalo Sabres traveled to the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and came away with a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers, snapping their three game losing streak. Tonight’s victory moves the Sabres to within two points of the Panthers in the newly aligned Atlantic Division.
The first period of the contest started like so many others this season with the Sabres opponent taking much of the play to Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth kept the Sabres in the game with some crucial saves throughout the period keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard until the 13:58 mark. Buffalo found themselves in an all to familiar situation when.Florida’s Sean Bergenheim sent a perfect pass across the ice to teammate Jesse Winchester for the easy tap in. Like much of the season, the Sabres had to play catch up.
The Sabres started the second period with a little more jump in their step, but Florida net minder Jacob Markstrom weathered the storm for the first few minutes of the period. Eventually, the Panthers got their skates under themselves and began taking the play to the Sabres. Enroth was once again up to the task, closing the door on several glorious scoring chances. Midway through the second, Enroth came up huge on Florida’s leading scorer, Tomas Fleischmann, when he found himself alone in front of Enroth. The save seemed to spark the Sabres and with 6:28 left in the period, Buffalo finally got on the scoreboard. Thomas Vanek carried the puck behind the Panther’s net and sent the puck to the blue line. Rasmus Ristolainen slapped the puck toward the net and with a nice screen from Cody McCormick, Ristolainen picked up his first goal of his young career and knotted the score at one.
The two teams continued battling into the third, exchanging some decent amounts of pressure on the others defense. At the 12:42 mark of the period the Sabres found themselves in rare territory when they took the lead in the game. Much like the first Sabre goal, some strong work along the boards started the play. This time it was Marcus Foligno who worked the puck up to Christian Ehrhoff at the point. Ehrhoff sent a shot toward the Florida net where Steve Ott tipped the puck past Markstrom making the score 2-1. The Sabres did just enough to hold on to the lead, and with 19:13 remaining in the contest, Cody Hodgson picked up his fourth goal of the season with an empty net tally.
Besides picking up a crucial two points and snapping their losing streak, their were several other bright spots in tonight’s game. The play of rookie defenseman Nakita Zadorov and his consistent physical play along with the superb goaltending of Jhonas Enroth and his 44 saves were two crucial components of the victory.
Tonight’s contest was the first of four between the two teams with the next meeting not coming until January 9th. The Sabres take the ice again on Saturday night versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Puck drops at 7:00 PM and that game will be broadcast on MSG.