Recap: Panthers @ Sabres, 2/9/16

Final 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Panthers (32-16-6) 3 3 1 7
@ Sabres (21-27-6)  0  2 2 4

First Period

The Sabres got their first shot on goal right off the draw but the Panthers were able to generate some offense after that. This didn’t immediately lead to success, but the Panthers kept pushing and Reilly Smith was able to reap the benefits of this drive just less than eight minutes into the game. The goal was assisted by Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck. Three minutes later, the Panthers were able to double this lead. Brian Campbell scored a goal, assisted by Alex Petrovic and Nick Bjugstad. The shots were actually tied at this point, but the Panthers had more quality opportunities. With less than a minute left in the period, the Panthers had their magical third goal. Jussi Jokinen caught the perfect pass from Reilly Smith off of a feed from Vincent Trocheck to widen the lead even more. At the end of the period, the Panthers were leading 3-0 and had the slight lead in shots on goal 11-9. The Panthers played well defensively and were able to get men in front of the net when they had chances to score, which was extremely helpful. However, the Panthers still haven’t been able to shoot as much as they should. Their offense is good but it has not been utilized to its greatest extent. They did stay out of the penalty box, though, which was big. Let’s hope they can keep it up in the second and third.

Second Period

Just 22 seconds into the second period, Alex Petrovic scored a slapshot, assisted by Nick Bjugstad, right off the draw and Robin Lehner was replaced by Chad Johnson in goal for the Sabres. Buffalo would have a chance to get on the board soon after because Brent Regner was penalized for holding. Sam Reinhart was able to capitalize on this power play to shatter Luongo’s opportunity to achieve yet another shutout. This penalty was followed by a well-matched fight between Evander Kane and Alex Petrovic. They both got fighting majors and roughing minors in the altercation. Garrett Wilson joined Petrovic in the box because he tripped Zach Bogosian. The Sabres, a very offensive team, had multiple chances on their power play and another Sam Reinhart shot slipped past Luongo. Last period, the Panthers were praised for remaining disciplined. This is what happens when they fail to do that. The Sabres were fighting back in a huge way and the Panthers did not seem to be prepared.

Eventually, the Cats began to realize this. Nearing the halfway point of the game, Brandon Pirri scored to put the Panthers back on task. The goal was assisted by Brian Campbell and Quinton Howden. When Jaromir Jagr was penalized for hooking, Petrovic and Kane went at it again and were given fighting majors. At least Sam Reinhart did not score on this Sabres power play. The Trocheck-Jokinen-Smith line was wowing the crowd tonight and that must have made Jaromir Jagr a little jealous because he scored from the corner off of a great Huberdeau pass. Aaron Ekblad got the secondary assist on the goal. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 6-2 and also held the edge in shots on goal 23-21. The Panthers scored another three goals this period, but they gave up two goals solely due to their reckless penalties. The Panthers lost focus in the first half of the period and it showed. Thankfully, they were able to bring it back in the second half of the period and they all-but secured the win tonight.

Third Period

The Panthers and Sabres played fairly evenly in the first half of the period. Eight minutes into the frame, Brent Regner was called for hooking. This was his second offense against Marcus Foligno tonight. Meanwhile, Nick Bjugstad was bleeding from a blatant high stick but there was not a penalty called as a result. The Sabres did not score on their power play, but they did score right afterward. A wide angle Evander Kane shot found its way past Luongo and the Sabres were within three. Alex Petrovic did not like that very much and the two of them got into their third and final fight of the game. This one was much more dramatic, as it would be the final fight between them of the game and of the season. With the limit of three major penalties per game, Evander Kane and Alex Petrovic were thrown out. Shortly after, the Panthers got their first power play of the game (wow) because Marcus Foligno was sent to the sin bin on an interference call. The Panthers were not nearly as successful on the power play tonight as the Sabres were. Still, the game was seeing like a sure win for the Panthers. That is, until Mike Weber made the game 6-4. Chad Johnson left the net and the Sabres were buzzing in the final two minutes. Luckily, Reilly Smith scored on the empty net to tie the game up. The Panthers won the game 7-4.

Who’s Hot?

The Vincent Trocheck-Jussi Jokinen-Reilly Smith line was on fire tonight and greatly made up for the fact that Aleksander Barkov was out. Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith each had goals and also assisted each other’s goals. Reilly Smith also finished up the game with an empty net goal, which was assisted by none other than Jokinen. Vincent Trocheck assisted the first Smith goal, as well as the Jokinen goal. Alex Petrovic had his first multi-point game tonight with a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” He scored a goal, assisted the Campbell goal, and engaged in three quick but impactful fights against Evander Kane. He was thrown out of the game for the final fight, but his valiant effort certainly did not go unnoticed. I mean, with three huge fights, how could it? Brian Campbell scored the second goal of the night and also engendered the crucial Brandon Pirri goal. Nick Bjugstad was also a huge factor in the Panthers’ success tonight, as seen by his assists on the Campbell and Petrovic goals.

Next Game

The Panthers will head home on Friday, February 12th to face the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.

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