Sabres – Panthers Review 12/20/16

FINAL: FLA – 4 BUF – 3 (SO)

The Sabres found themselves flat footed in sunrise the entire first period. Over the past three or so games it seems that this has become a trend and Dan Bylsma followed by saying “We need to be better at the start of games. That’s a big focus.”

Alex Barkov, who seemed dominant throughout the whole game with Jagr and Bjugstad by his side, started the scoring towards the end of the first. The Sabres seemed to have trouble early on matching the skill and creativity of the Panthers’ top line and what eventually became a historic night.

The Sabres came out better in the second and created a lot of chances in the Panthers’ end. Yet a soft shot from the blue line found it’s way in for Keith Yandle making it 2-0. The Sabres didn’t let this bother them and kept up the pace and in about a 2 minute span the Sabres found the back of the net twice. Buffalo earned a powerplay and made no mistake with a Ristolainen slapper being deflected in by Sam Reinhart.

This sparked the team and a few moments later, Evander Kane cashed in on a second chance in front tying the game.

With momentum carrying over from the resilient second period, the Sabres kept up the pace in the third. The puck found it’s way to a wide open Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s been on fire as of late, and he made no mistake shooting it through a crowd and past Luongo.

Although allowing Buffalo to score three unanswered goals, the top line of the Panthers were not fazed. Just a few moments later Jaromir Jagr made history after setting up Barkov who passed to Bjugstad tying the game. With Jagr’s third point of the night, he tied Mark Messier for second in the NHL all time in points only trailing Wayne Gretzky.

Three-on-three overtime didn’t solve anything and Buffalo found themselves headed to the dreaded shootout for the second game in a row. Okposo and O’Reilly were denied and the skilled Trochek and Barkov found the back of the net winning it for the Cats.

The Sabres shootout woes continue with a combination of not being able to score or get a save. The team hopes to bounce back Thursday in a rematch against the Hurricanes, who also beat them in overtime less than a week ago.

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