Frozen out by the winter vortex that slammed Western New York, the Buffalo Sabres were the prey of the Florida Panthers. Brad Boyes scored the tying goal in the third period and the shootout winner as Florida stopped Buffalo’s home win streak, beating them 2-1 in the shootout, despite stellar play by Jhonas Enroth.
USA Olympian Ryan Miller got the rest tonight, letting newly announced Swedish Olympian Enroth have the start in net, turning aside 34 shots, and only yielding one regulation goal and the winner in the shootout.
The first period had Buffalo at a very slow start. Both teams looked groggy out of the gate, since Buffalo has been out of action since last Saturday, and Florida riding a losing streak.
Florida had more of a spark to them early, trying to break the rut, but to Enroth, they would have to work for the win. Through four minutes, Florida led the shot count, 6-0.
Buffalo picked up the pace late in the first, starting to pepper Thomas from all over. But none were let past by the Panther goalie.
At the end of the first, two goose eggs lit the scoreboard. Both goalies were 100% on shots against, with Thomas turning aside 13 to Enroth’s 8.
The second period showed signs of Buffalo picking up the pace, skating, passing, and shooting like they woke up from their extended vacation with Buffalo breaking the stalemate just over 5 minutes into the second period.
A Matt D’Agostini rush down the right side of the ice proved successful. Crossing the Florida blue-line, D’Agostini dumped the puck to Steve Ott, who threw the puck across to Jamie McBain, who fired off a low shot off the pole to Thomas’ right and into the net.
The goal was McBain’s third of the season.
Holding the lead, Buffalo looked like they calmed down and began to control the game.
At the end of two, Florida fired off 25 shots, and Buffalo only rattled off 14.
Florida tied this game early into third, with former Sabre Brad Boyes getting a tip-in goal off of a Tom Gilbert shot. Sean Bergenheim was also credited an assist on the equalizer.
Buffalo’s heart stopped around the 12 minute mark of the third period, an injury to Dmitry Kulikov deep in the Florida zone was the deciding factor.
Just as Brad Boyes scored what would have been his second of the night, the referee down near Kulikov blew his whistle, halting the would-be go ahead goal.
Buffalo had two great chances late in the third, as they caught Florida’s defense and Thomas off guard, but were unable to get their second goal.
Florida kept pressuring Enroth, firing shots on a constant basis, but Enroth came up with the saves to keep Buffalo in the game.
Enroth received a ton of help from the posts of the net, as Florida pinged the metal a total of 5 times, 4 of which were in the third period alone.
Buffalo also had strong play from a young Johan Larsson, still itching to get his first of the season. Larsson managed to fire off one shot, but still come close to tapping the puck on multiple chances.
Buffalo pushed hard in the overtime period, playing very conservatively defensively, not trying to force any play that wasn’t there.
A slight mishap that could have been costly occurred halfway in the overtime, as a lengthy carry by Tyler Ennis in Florida’s zone found him having to carry the puck back into Buffalo territory, where the puck was stranded at the top of the Sabres zone.
Regulation was almost over, but Linus Omark took a brutal open ice hit by Ed Jovanovski with halted play with 26 seconds. He appeared fine, skating off on his own power, just some bleeding from his mouth. Much to the crowds dismay, no call was assessed.
At the end of OT, the game was still tied, with Florida leading in shots 35-24.
Taking to the shootout, Enroth took his first chance of the season in the 1V1 tiebreaker.
Enroth made a beautiful glove save on Barkov, solving the shot with ease, squeezing the puck.
Jonathan Huberdeau caused some controversy in the second frame, scoring what looked like a good goal. To everyone’s surprise, the call was split, one referee called it a good goal, while another ruled against. It was later ruled a no goal, with officials ruling that he pushed the Enroth into the net along with the puck, negating the goal.
Buffalo was a man down on four occasions tonight, but the penalty kill was perfect tonight, stopping all shots.
BUFFALO // FLORIDA
Ennis X // Barkov X
Moulson X // Huberdeau X
Ott X // Boyes √
Buffalo returns to action Sunday afternoon for a matinee game in our nations capital, taking on the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is at 3PM.