Florida Panthers @ Buffalo Sabres


Matchup: Florida Panthers (12-8-7) @ Buffalo Sabres (11-16-2)

Where: First Niagara Center

When: 7:00 PM ET

TV/Radio: FS-F/ 560 WQAM

What’s The Story?

Finishing off a three-game road trip, the Florida Panthers head into Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Having beaten the Red Wings 3-2 in the shootout the night before, the Cats will look to beat Buffalo for the third time this season. The Panthers, who after last night’s victory now solely hold the second and final wild card spot, look to string together a couple of wins to finish this road trip on a high note. The Sabres have won eight out of their last eleven games and they have beaten some pretty good teams, such as Montreal (twice) and Pittsburgh. Their latest victory came against the surprising Calgary Flames on Thursday night 4-3. They will look to continue to climb out of the league cellar versus the Panthers.

In Case You Missed It

On Friday night, the Panthers battled the Red Wings in an Atlantic Division matchup. The Red Wings came into the game as winners of seven out of their last nine games, so the Panthers needed to come out strong in order to get another victory out of the Red Wings.

After both teams scored two goals in the first period, that was all of the scoring that both teams would have until the shootout. The Panthers, who have lost some tough games this season during the skills competition, decided to swap out their whole shootout lineup. And it worked, as Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri both scored in the shootout to end the shootout and, in the process, shocking the Red Wings for the second time in the past week.

Projected Rosters

Florida Panthers

Jonathan HuberdeauNick BjustadTomas Fleischmann

Sean BergenheimDave BollandBrad Boyes

Jussi JokinenVincent Trocheck – Jimmy Hayes

Tomas KopeckyDerek MacKenzieBrandon Pirri

Brian CampbellAaron Ekblad

Willie MitchellDmitry Kulikov

Dylan OlsenErik Gudbranson 

Al Montoya

Roberto Luongo

Injury Report: Aleksander Barkov (strained groin and bruised hand); Scottie Upshall (bruised ankle)

Buffalo Sabres

Matt MoulsonZemgus GirgensonsTyler Ennis

Brian FlynnTorrey MitchellBrian Gionta

Nicolas DeslauriersMarcus FolignoDrew Stafford

Chris StewartCody HodgsonPatrick Kaleta

Josh GorgesTyler Myers

Rasmus RistolainenNikita Zadorov

Mike WeberAndre Benoit

Jhonas Enroth

Michal Neuvirth

Injury Report: Matt Hackett: (knee surgery); Jake McCabe (undisclosed); Cody McCormick (lower body); Andrej Meszaros (concussion); Mark Pysyk (upper body); Tyson Strachan (lower body)

(Note: Neither team has confirmed a starting goaltender as of the time of writing.)

Rat Facts

  • This will be the 82nd all-time meeting between the Florida Panthers (33-38-4-6) and the Buffalo Sabres (44-30-4-3).
  • The last time Florida was firmly planted into a playoff position, you have to go all the way back to the 2011-12 season. Coincidently, that was the last time that the Florida Panthers were a playoff team.
  • It appears that the curious curse of Tomas Fleischmann is about to end, as the 30 year-old extended his point streak to four games (two goals, three assists) and is finally being rewarded for his hard work on the defensive side of the game.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau is another player who has been rejuvenated as of late, and it’s not just because the forward has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last five games. He has won a ton of battles in the corners that have often resulted in more time in the offensive zone for the Panthers. A healthy Huberdeau is great news for the Cats.
  • For Vincent Trocheck, he has contributed to both victories against Detroit, the city where he played junior hockey as a kid. Back on December 2nd, Trocheck scored one goal and two assists as he helped the Panthers beat the Red Wings 4-3. Last night, he scored the game-winning shootout goal as Florida defeated Detroit again 4-3.

Three Players To Watch Out For

  1. Tyler Ennis – One goal, three assists in his last two games.
  2. Zemgus Girgensons – One goal, one assist in his last game.
  3. Drew Stafford – One goal, two assists in his last three games.

Final Analysis

If the Panthers want to win the game, they will have to accomplish two objectives. The first will be for the Cats to come out of the gate with their legs underneath them. After playing the night before for a full 65+ minutes, the Panthers will want to make sure that they do not come out sleep walking or else the Sabres will take advantage. The second objective that they will need to accomplish will be on the power-play. Buffalo is 23rd in the league while only killing off only 78.4% of their penalties. If the Panthers are able to win the special teams battle, then that will probably be enough for them to win the hockey game.

Game Prediction

4-2 Florida

Got any game predictions? Let us know in the comments below as your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.