Quick Hits: Panthers vs. Sabres

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For the first time since the end of the 2012-13 National Hockey League season, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves holding a .500 record.

The Sabres woke up Thursday morning preparing for their final game in Sunrise this season. Buffalo bypassed the morning skate at the BB&T Center, and it was evident when the Sabres took the ice for the game.

Multiple Sabres skaters looked and skated as if their skates were concrete blocks. This thought can be furthered when you look at the first period shot totals. Buffalo only tallied 6 shots.

A few decent chances mounted throughout the period, Brian Gionta netted his 1st of the season. Gionta’s goal at 19:28 put Buffalo up 1-0.

The top line of Moulson/O’Reilly/Gionta was the best line in the first period, when it comes to Corsi for percentage. The play of these three also passed the much-maligned eye test.

While the Sabres offense was a little sluggish, Florida could not keep Buffalo off the board despite outplaying the Sabres through 20 minutes.

Buffalo looked to gather some sort of momentum in the second period, but it would quickly be thwarted by a new National Hockey League rule.

Clear as day, Tyler Ennis scored a goal. He pushed the puck past goaltender Roberto Luongo, and the Sabres found themselves up 2-0. But wait just a second!

Jack Eichel possessed the puck entering the offensiveu zone. Tyler Ennis was trailing the play. Once the replay popped up on our resepective television screens did we see that Ennis was a good half-stride offsides. The ruling was simple: no goal Buffalo.

Buffalo could not capitalize here, and quickly they saw momentum shift to the Florida Panthers.

Linus Ullmark was down on the ice after making a save and the defense was out of position. Cody Franson was off to attempt to break the play up as Jake McCabe was pushing Jonathan Huberdeau into Ullmark.

Huberdeau’s 1st goal of the season, at 9:35 in the second, tied things up at 1. Buffalo challenged the play on the grounds of goaltender interference, but clearly it is hard to cry foul when your own player causes the interference.

At this rate, it was hard to believe Buffalo could turn things back in their favor but Cody Franson’s laser shots™ would reassure Sabres fans that things would be alright.

Franson had a well placed shot from the point that beat Roberto Luongo, thanks in part to a very effective Marcus Foligno screen at the net. This went in the books as Franson’s 2nd goal of the season at 18:53 of the second period.

When the third period rolled around, Buffalo was able to retain pressure gained late in the second. With this pressure, the Sabres put themselves up 2 early in the third period.

Sam Reinhart was screening Roberto Luongo, as a Tyler Ennis shot got on Luongo. Reinhart had the split second reaction, and he tipped the puck into the net.

Reinhart’s 3rd of the season, on the power play, ended up being the game-winning goal at 3:38 of the third period.

Florida would come within one goal, thanks to a nice tip from Vincent Trocheck, but it would obviously not be enough.

With this victory, the Buffalo Sabres move to 8-8-0 on the season with 16 points. Buffalo sits at 5th in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Now, I give you the goods.

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    • Gionta finally scores!

If there was one guy who needed a goal bad this season, it was captain Brian Gionta.

I mean, look at this almost goal for Gionta. You can’t get much closer to a goal than this. Yikes, man.

You must figure that because we are talking about Brian Gionta, something else happened. If your gut is telling you that or your brains, they’re right dawg.

The Brian Gionta scored a goal for the first time since April 10, 2015. Feels good to have Gionta back in the goal scoring category. I’m not really sure what else to say here because it is kind of weird to see Gionta’s name on the score sheet. Maybe I’m just weird? I’m definitely weird.

    • Ullmark the Great.

Is Linus Ullmark the Sabres’ number one goaltender? Depends on who you ask.

Sabres fans will absolutely tell you yes. Recent starts will tell you yes, with Ullmark getting more starts than Johnson. Head coach Dan Bylsma though? “I call him Linus,” said Bylsma tongue-in-cheek, when asked about Ullmark. “He’s playing in net tonight.”

After a very, very impressive 36 save performance tonight against a talented Panthers team, you’d be hard pressed to think anyone but Linus Ullmark will be in goal this Saturday night when the Sabres return home to host the San Jose Sharks.

    • No Business Here.

Tonight’s impressive victory against the Florida Panthers is the type of game we’ve seen a few times from the Buffalo Sabres this season already.

The Buffalo Sabres had absolutely no business winning this game. Florida outshot Buffalo a little more than 2-to-1 (38 to 18), yet Buffalo prevailed 3-2.

Say what you want to about the game, but nights like this show the Buffalo Sabres true colors. They can be outplayed but still win games due to the sheer level of talent they have on the ice.

And as mentioned, when you have an OK goaltender in net..you’ll tend to win a few games.

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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