Consistency. A 60-minute effort. Focus. Those are three things that seemed to be missing tonight as the Buffalo Sabres fell to the Florida Panthers in regulation by a score of 4-3.
This is the fourth consecutive game the Sabres have lost by a score of 4-3. It’s also Buffalo’s seventh consecutive one-goal game, dating back to January 4.
But tonight’s game wasn’t always headed toward a loss. Buffalo opened the scoring and eventually led the game twice, but in the end, it was Florida that came out on top.
Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov took a high-sticking penalty less than a minute into the game, giving the Sabres an opportunity on the power play. Drew Stafford took advantage of it, giving Buffalo a 1-0 lead early on.
That didn’t last long, however. Less than two minutes later, Jesse Winchester tipped in a shot to tie things at one.
Buffalo would take its second lead of the night on a goal – once again – by Drew Stafford.
Three goals combine from both sides in a matter of just under four minutes put the Sabres ahead, 2-1.
It would stay that way for nearly the rest of the first period – but it only takes a few seconds for things to change.
Or in this case, 52 seconds. That’s the span in which the Panthers scored twice to tie the game and then take the lead.
From that point forward, things fell flat – if they weren’t already. Ryan Miller looked lost at times, and the lack of a consistent 60-minute effort by the team would only make things worse for the Sabres.
Nick Bjugstad added a goal in the second period to give the Panthers a two-goal lead, and it would stay that way for a while.
Just over eight minutes into the third period, Sabres captain Steve Ott would score his sixth goal of the season – and the 100th goal of his NHL career – to close the gap to one.
The Sabres, however, couldn’t complete the comeback and fell to the Panthers, 4-3.
Miller had a total of 18 saves on the night. For the Panthers, Tim Thomas had 32 saves.