The Buffalo Sabres were able to put an end to their four game losing streak Saturday afternoon at the KeyBank Center with an impressive 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers.
Sabres’ backup goaltender Anders Nilsson played a strong game, stopping all 33 shots he faced. His shutout was nearly ruined following a last minute penalty shot awarded to Panthers’ forward Vincent Trocheck, but the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native shot it wide of the net.
Nilsson’s shutout, the second of his career, improves his record as a Sabre to 1-1-1. Head coach Dan Bylsma knew Nilsson was in for a good day, saying that he looked solid and so confident in net that you thought it would be hard to get one by him from early on in the first period.
“We were tested at critical points in the game and our penalty kill was good. I knew from the first period that Nilsson was on his game.” – Dan Bylsma
The Sabres scored just their second goal on home ice this season less than 10 minutes into the game, when Johan Larsson ripped one over Roberto Luongo’s glove. Larsson’s goal continued his solid 2016-17 campaign, as the 24-year-old Swede has been able to produce for the team while also being a leader defensively.
Kyle Okposo doubled the Sabres’ lead just minutes into the second. Rasmus Ristolainen assisted on the power play goal, giving him seven assists for the year, making him the Sabres’ leading scorer.
The Sabres took a 3-0 midway through the third when Sam Reinhart scored his first of the season. The former second overall pick attempted to play the puck from behind the Panthers’ net before it was kicked past Luongo by former Sabres’ defenseman Mark Pysyk, giving Reinhart his second point of the game.
Unlike the last time the team had a three goal lead, the Sabres were able to finish this game out, playing well in the third period to preserve the advantage. Kyle Okposo said that the team learned from the other night, and that the team played smart and hard.
Matt Moulson continued his strong season after a dismal 2015-16 showing, assisting on Sam Reinhart’s goal for his fifth point of the season.
Leading the Sabres defensively was Ristolainen, who led the team in ice time with over 24 minutes played, finishing the game with one assist and two blocked shots. Dmitry Kulikov also played a solid game against his former team, playing over 21 minutes as well as delivering a nice hit on former teammate Derek MacKenzie.
Nicolas Deslauriers was banged up in the final minutes of the game and may not make the trip for Sunday’s game. The Sabres may have to quickly recall a forward from the Rochester Americans, who play tonight.
Although the team was outshot, the Sabres outplayed the Panthers for the entire game, a performance that Buffalo needed following their poor outings thus far. Buffalo plays another afternoon game tomorrow as the team will travel to the MTS Centre to take on the Winnipeg Jets.
Robin Lehner is expected to be in goal and puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST.