The Buffalo Sabres were able to come out on top against the Florida Panthers after a wild defensive battle.
What a win it was against Florida, the hardest opponent we’ve had to face yet and we were able to come away victorious. It does hurt a little that we let them steal a point from us with 10 seconds left, but a win is a win no matter how we got it.
One major thing I noticed from the game was our poor performance early in periods. In all 3 periods and overtime, the Sabres came out of the gate playing soft and Florida was able to keep the puck in our zone as a result. This was unusual for the year because so far we’ve seen Buffalo come out of the gate playing great and then cool down by the end of periods.
Against Florida however, the Sabres were playing their best hockey of the evening at the end of the first and second periods. It seemed like as the game went on, and the high pace kept up, the Sabres got better.
Most important for Buffalo was their fourth line. Zemgus Girgensons had 2 assists while both Johan Larsson and Marco Scandella got their first goals of the year. It was good to see the fourth line finally score some points off the offensive opportunities they created for themselves. Through 5 games, the Sabres fourth line looks like one of the best in the league.
The third period for the Sabres was unfortunately ugly. The Sabres came out of the gate and scored a quick goal, then it was all down hill from there. Buffalo took their foot off the gas and allowed Florida to make it a 2-1 game. Then in the final 3 minutes when Florida had an empty net, the Sabres allowed Florida to stay in their zone the whole time and only cleared the puck once. After Linus Ullmark did all he could and more, Florida finally got one of their shots in with 10 seconds left to tie the game.
We need to play a lot better in the closing minutes of games. If we allow teams to just put up nonstop shots without clearing the puck like we did Florida, we are going to have things like this happen more often than we’d like.
In overtime the Panthers kept the puck away from Buffalo for the first 4 minutes. Linus Ullmark did his part in goal and fended off numerous shots. Then in the last minute of OT, Buffalo put the pressure on and put up several good shots, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. In the shootout ole reliable, Jack Eichel, made his shot and after two Florida misses, Casey Mittelstadt scored to give Buffalo the 3-2 shootout win.
In this game Linus Ullmark played amazingly well. Ullmark made 41 saves in net and looked every bit of a starter. Moving forward, the Sabres will have to consider giving Ullmark more games if he can continue to play like he has this year.
Even though we would’ve liked all 3 points, the Sabres still found a way to beat a very good Florida team and will move to 4-0-1 on the year. Now the Sabres will get two days of rest before playing the Dallas Stars.