The Florida Panthers managed to get a point in a hard fought battle tonight against the Buffalo Sabres that ended 4-3 in a shootout. Florida came back from 2-0 and 3-2 getting just enough to send the game into OT. The Sabres were the better team in the shootout with Ryan Miller stopping Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both converted their shootout chances against Jose Theodore.
Florida maintained the momentum the entire game but fell victim to shaky goaltending by Scott Clemmensen. Clemmensen who played well in relief of Theodore Tuesday, was the one getting pulled this time. After allowing three goals on ten shots before the end of the first period, Clemmensen gave way to Theodore who stopped all fifteen shots he face throughout the rest of the game.
After going down 2-0, Florida quickly battled back receiving goals from Drew Shore (2) and Marcel Goc (2). After the Panthers evened the score at two goals apiece, Nathan Gerbe scored his second goal of the game to put the Sabres up 3-2. This all happened in a wild and crazy first period that also saw 18 penalty minutes including a fight between George Parros and John Scott.
Things calmed down in the second and Ryan Miller and the Sabres withstood a steady barrage of Panther shots. Despite getting 16 shots on net in the second, Florida was unable to get one past Ryan Miller. The third period saw much of the same as the Panthers maintained the puck in their offensive zone for a majority of the period. The Panthers outshot the Sabres 30-13 in the second and third periods.
With all the pressure, it was only a matter of time before the Panthers scored but with just over a minute left it started to look like the Sabres just might hold on. After Marcel Goc won an offensive zone face off, Brian Campbell released an innocuous looking slap shot that found a way past Miller. Of all the shots the Panthers put on Miller during the game, Campbell’s was of the less threatening variety but the hockey gods must have seen fit to reward Florida for their dominance and somehow the puck squeaked into the back of the net tying the game at three.
Miller stood his ground in the shootout and the Sabres got the two points. The game could have easily gone the other way, and losing a game where you outshot your opponent 43-25 kind of sucks, but Florida has to be happy they got at least a point after they came so close to getting nothing at all.
The Panthers’ next game comes Saturday in Carolina. The Hurricanes will then be traveling down to Florida sunday to complete a home and home back to back between the two division rivals.
- Because I live in New York I could not watch the Panthers broadcast on NHL gamecenter so I was stuck watching the Sabres broadcast of the game which means I had to listen to Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret the entire game. While I must admit he kind of grew on me as the game progressed, the way his voice elevates to an ear piercing screech whenever anything remotely exciting happens was worse than nails-on-chalkboard painful. Does this become an endearing to Sabres fans after awhile? Have their ears evolved to block out the crooked pitches Jeanneret hits? All I can say is I will be looking forward to hearing the soothing dulcet tones of Bill Lindsey and Steve Goldstein when the Panthers play Carolina on Saturday.
- On multiple occasions with the ‘Kid Line’ taking an offensive face-off, Shore would win the puck directly back to Huberdeau who would immediately release a lightning quick shot wrist shot. While they didn’t beat Miller tonight, I would expect that we will be seeing a few Huberdeau goals assisted by Shore right off the face-off.
- The arguments against shootouts are plentiful and mostly valid, but say what you will about shootouts, they are exciting as hell. I understand that they are an unsatisfactory way of picking a winner, and even though the Panthers hardly ever seem to win when it comes down to the skills competition, I cannot deny that the shootout got my blood pumping tonight.
- Speaking of the shootout, Huberdeau’s move looked to be similar to the one he used to beat Ilya Bryzgalov with on his penalty shot. The only difference tonight was Huberdeau seemed to lose his handle a bit and Miller stuck with him all the way.
- Tonight’s game was the type of game that makes me love watching hockey. All I can say is, its a good thing I am not on the ice because I was more than packing it in when Florida went down 2-0 early in the first. From the two goal comeback only to go down again on a soft goal, to the teams’ finally breaking through in the final moments after so much futility, I was thoroughly riveted.