Florida Panthers can’t capture sole #1 spot in East as they Fall to Sabres 2-1 in OT.

By margaretavila

The Florida Panthers went into action just 24 hrs after winning over the Boston Bruins. They faced the current 7th seed in the Eastern Conference Buffalo Sabres (14-11-02) and Goaltender Ryan Miller at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Coming off of an emotional and physically grueling game with the Bruins it was apparent that the Cats had a hangover and came out flat. In between the pipes tonight for Florida was Clemmensen.

Coach Kevin Dineen said prior to the game that the Panthers could not afford to come out flat and needed to have better energy. Well the Panthers must not have been listening to their coach because that is exactly how they came out. The Panthers had a lot riding on this game too.

The Panthers went into this one as the number 2 seed in the Eastern Conference behind the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers not playing tonight meant if the Panthers could come out of Buffalo with a win the Panthers would be in sole possession of first place in the East but instead they came out tied with the Flyers.

The first period could be summed up with the Panthers spending most of their time in the penalty box which is generally not a good way to create scoring opportunities for yourself. The Sabres did not take advantage of the power play and went 0-3. The Sabres scored on a Roy breakaway when he beat Clemmensen on the blocker side late in the first period 1-0 Sabres. The Panthers failed to transition in the neutral zone which left Roy all alone.

In the second period the game opened up but the Cats had to stay out of the penalty box. The pace was much more up tempo which favored the Panthers. Then late in the second Buffalo committed two penalties and the Panthers went to a 5 on 3 power-play. The power-play paid off with the tying goal by D-man Garrison on a blast high over Miller’s shoulder glove side. Garrison’s goal was assisted from Fleischmann and Versteeg.

The third period saw the Panthers staying out of the penalty situation and taking more control of the game with the score tied 1-1. As the period wore on you had a feeling this one was going to indeed go into OT and it did. The Panthers got caught in a line change when Pominville went on a breakaway and beat Clemmensen for the Buffalo win.

The key to this game was the Panthers staying even strength against Buffalo and their energy seemed to low. They did not come out with the same intensity level not sure if it was the travel or the Bruins exhausted them the night before in this back to back road games.

The Florida Panthers play against the NY Rangers next on Sunday in New York

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