|@ Panthers (6-7-3)||0||1||1||2|
The Sabres seemed fairly dominant in the first few minutes of the game, but things started to turn around for the Panthers when the Sabres’ Pysyk was penalized for slashing. Although the Panthers were not able to score on this power play, they were able to get some decent shots in to even out the game. Still, Luongo had to make some diving saves in order to keep this notion from changing. With 8:49 left in the period, the Panthers got another power play opportunity after Jack Eichel got an interference penalty for taking down Jaromir Jagr. I know he’s a rookie phenomenon, but Eichel should know that nobody takes down Jagr. However, Eichel was not able to properly learn his lesson because the penalty was killed. Both teams were more successful in their own zones than in the offensive zones, but when the Panthers began to crack, Buffalo took advantage. With just over 30 seconds left in the period, Brian Gionta scored to give the Sabres the lead. At the end of the period, the score was 1-0 Sabres and while the Panthers had 8 shots on goal, the Sabres had 6. The Sabres have surprisingly good defense so it is important for the Panthers to take advantage of every power play opportunity they can get because those are the best times for the team to score. The Panthers were unable to score in either power play this period, but these two instances were when most of the Panthers’ shots on goal occurred.
The Panthers had no lack of scoring chances in the beginning of the second but the puck just would not go in. The Sabres, on the other hand, were much luckier. Tyler Ennis scored with 13:27 left in the period, but Gallant challenged the call because he said that the play was offsides. Gerard Gallant reigned victorious in the challenge and the goal was thankfully overturned. With 7:56 left in the period, Zemgus Girgensons was called for hooking and the Panthers got yet another power play. The divine mixture of lack of opportunity and puck unluckiness prevented the Panthers from scoring in the first half of the power play but then, something incredible happened: Jonathan Huberdeau finally scored a goal! Well, it was reviewed, but the goal still stood.
Huberdeau’s first goal of the season was assisted by Nick Bjugstad and Jaromir Jagr. The Panthers could not clear the puck with one minute left and allowed Cody Franson to score to give the Sabres the lead again. At the end of the period, the Sabres led 2-1. While the Panthers had 24 shots on goal, the Sabres had just 13. The Panthers did indeed score on the power play like I suggested, but the Panthers should want to end this game in regulation. To do that, another two goals are crucial. In fact, this season, the Panthers won all 6 of their games when they scored 3 or more goals but did not win any where they scored less than that.
The Panthers hadn’t had a penalty in this game so far, so it was only about time before it happened. Dmitry Kulikov was sent to the penalty box on a hooking call early in the third period and the Sabres widened their lead on a Sam Reinhart goal. Then, there was a whole lot of nothing. Things were looking bleak for the Panthers with 10 minutes left, but leave it to Trocheck to change that. He scored with 4 minutes left to put the Panthers within one goal of the Sabres. The goal was assisted by Aaron Ekblad and Jussi Jokinen. Luongo left the net and the Panthers got incredibly close to scoring. This wasn’t enough to give the Panthers the win though and they fell 3-2 to the Sabres. The game may have seemed close, but keep in mind that this is considering the fact that the Panthers had a successful coaches challenge and the Sabres had an unsuccessful one. I think that after the team-only meeting on Tuesday, the Panthers buckled down and became more disciplined. However, in doing this, they gave up on taking risks and for this reason, they were unable to score and unable to win.
I have to give Jonathan Huberdeau credit for finally scoring his first goal of the season. It has been a long time coming but I’m glad he finally overcame that hurdle. Vincent Trocheck’s goal was also nice to see in the way that it instilled a bit of hope in the fans. Alex Petrovic played well around the boards and Quinton Howden had some good scoring chances too.
Post-Game Audio From Coach Gallant
Your Florida Panthers will be taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa on Saturday, November 14th, at 7:00 PM ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.