After a stellar victory in Brooklyn the other night, the Florida Panthers were heading into Buffalo looking to extend their win streak to two.
The Panthers started the game off on the forefront, pouring pressure down deep in the Sabres end. The Huberdeau, Trocheck, and Malgin line were using the cycle to their advantage, creating numerous opportunities from it.
With six and a half minutes into the opening period, Jared McCann was called for a trip on Jack Eichel. Despite the dominance that the Panthers were displaying, they just couldn’t catch a break with these penalties.
The penalty killing unit for the Cats were doing a great job of clearing the puck down the ice, but, the Panthers got caught with a turnover which led to a goal being scored.
Coming down the ice after the turnover, Kyle Okposo found Sam Reinhart in the slot, who then quickly fed Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly was left with all sorts of time and space to walk in and shoot, doing just that. He’d open up the scoring for side, giving them a 1-0 lead.
Florida received a 5 on 3 shortly after, courtesy of Johan Larsson (holding) and Marco Scandella (delay of game). During their 5 on 3 opportunity, the Panthers managed to cash in once, thanks to Keith Yandle’s bomb:
The Cats weren’t done there as they quickly added a second goal. On the man advantage once again, Nick Bjugstad passed the puck back to Michael Matheson at the point, where Matheson walked in and fired a shot past Chad Johnson.
Just before the first period came to an end, the Panthers added a third goal. This time, it was a forward instead of a defenseman, with the forward being Denis Malgin. Being all alone in front, Yandle quickly fed the open Denis Malgin, who was seen skating around Johnson and backhanding a shot into the empty side.
Denis Malgin’s goal would send the Cats into the locker room with a 3-1 lead over the Sabres. The first frame was all Florida in offensive play, with the Sunshine State seeing ample amount of time in Sabres’ territory.
The second period however, wouldn’t go as planned. Florida started the period off with a power play, which carried over from the first. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the team on the man advantage who would score, but instead, it was the team that was killing it who would find the back of the net.
That’s right, the Sabres would start the second period on the penalty kill, but managed to grab a goal from it. Johan Larsson was seen working the puck behind the net, only to create some open space in the slot for Zemgus Girgensons.
Larsson quickly spotted Girgensons in the slot, immediately feeding him a pass. Girgensons was surrounded by three Panthers’ players, but still managed to throw a shot on goal. Needless to say, that shot would beat Sateri short blocker side, giving the Sabres some new life in this game:
The rest of the second period was all Buffalo in shots, puck possession, and even generated scoring chances. Their second goal really sparked some energy in them, shown by their eagerness to grab the tying goal.
Thankfully for Florida, Harri Sateri was there to make the much-needed big saves throughout the second frame. Unlike the Sabres, the Cats were caught running around in their own zone, struggling to get the puck out. Without the strong net minding from Sateri, who knows what the score might’ve been by the end of the period.
Girgensons’ goal was the only goal of the period, meaning that the Panthers would head back to the dressing room with a 3-2 lead after two periods of play. After getting dominated in that frame, the Panthers were glad to regroup and reenergize after their sloppy performance in the second.
Very much like the second, the third period started off with the Sabres buzzing around in the Panthers zone. Pucks were hardly getting out, Sateri was getting pummeled with shots, and the Cats offense was looking stale.
The only twist to this period was the aggressiveness shown by both sides. As the final period progressed onwards, the play of the game became more chippy. Guys like Evander Kane were going after the likes of Aaron Ekblad and Nick Bjugstad, while McCabe and Trocheck were also exchanging a few words, as well as some slashes.
A fight broke out near the Panthers’ bench, when Petrovic grabbed onto McCabe’s jersey, looking to throw him down to the ice. Vinnie Trocheck also made sure that he jumped in as well. But, one of the low points of this dirty hockey game was when Evander Kane purposely head-hunted Aleksander Barkov.
Most or if not all of this didn’t matter as the Panthers would add a reassurance goal to win them the hockey game. Colton Sceviour and Aleksander Barkov came speeding down on a 2 on 1 opportunity, as Sceviour chose to drive and squeak a shot past Johnson to give his team a 4-2 lead:
In conclusion, the Florida Panthers played a pretty solid game, deserving the victory at the end of it. The second period should be an example of to never let your foot off the gas pedal, no matter who you’re playing in this league. Your Panthers are back in action on Saturday, February 3rd @7:00pm against the Detroit Red Wings!