Sabres keep rolling with shootout win

Casey Mittelstadt scored the shootout winner, and Linus Ullmark made 41 saves, as the Buffalo Sabres downed the Florida Panthers 3-2 at KeyBank Center Friday night. 

The Sabres appeared to be in cruise-mode when Marco Scandella converted an excellent pass from Kyle Okposo to the right of Panthers’ goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, which augmented the team’s lead to 2-0 early in the third period. Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons combined for an excellent neutral zone break into the offensive end when Okposo found Scandella streaking in from the left, fed him the pass at the top of the circle, and the Sabres defenseman buried his first of the year.

The Panthers though would not be denied their point, as after the Sabres took the 2-o lead, the visitors took the game over. Goals from Evegnii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman would tie the score in regulation. Hoffman’s tally was particularly heart-breaking, as it came with 11 seconds left in regular time. The Sabres appeared to have control several times in their own end in the dying moments of the contest, but the Florida pressure provided too great a challenge, and Hoffman found himself alone to the left of Linus Ullmark. Hoffman waited out the Sabres goalie and went top-shelf on the glove-side to knot the game at 2. 

The overtime period saw Florida carry the play during the first half of extra time, with Buffalo recording scoring chances, some of the excellent variety from the aforementioned Mittelstadt and Rasmus Ristolained. The latter nailing the pipe just before the extra session expired.

Jack Eichel, who had a rough night with the puck was first to strike for the Sabres in the shoot-out. Sam Reinhart missed his chance, but Casey Mittelstadt scored on a beautiful backhand shot to win it for Buffalo. Linus Ullmark made a glove-save on Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov hit the post on his effort to help the Sabres get the win.

Johan Larsson was able to capitalize on another great effort by his line to score Buffalo’s first goal of the night late in the second period. 

Linus Ullmark was once again excellent for the home side. Many of his 41 saves were quality chances, specifically in the third period, as the ice was heavily tilted in Florida’s direction. His positioning was solid all night, which helped him not only control the puck, and avoid rebound opportunities, but also to make splendid saves, such as his glove snare on Hoffman in the first period from the slot. Combining this start with the effort from Monday night in Columbus, Ullmark is off to a nice beginning to the “Golden Season”.

On the other side of the ledger, Sergei Bobrovsky was also tested often and generally responded to said tests. Making 30 of a possible 32 saves, Bobrovsky also looked very controlled in the net, as neither of the Sabres goals would be considered soft. 

Up next for Buffalo will be a special Columbus Day game in downtown Buffalo, as the Sabres will host the Dallas Stars. The puck will drop at 3 p.m. at the foot of Washington Street. 

Craig Schutts
Millersville Alumni; Life-long Buffalo sports fan; Part-time writer and podcaster until they throw me out!
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