GAME RECAP: Panthers 1 @ Sabres 2 (OT)

By johnmiller

At a certain point, you just have to give the people what they want. In this case, the people are the Buffalo Sabres (15-11-2) fans who pack First Niagara Arena for every home game. And they wanted a win. Sure the Florida Panthers (16-8-5) weren’t in tip-top condition on Friday night. They started their backup goaltender and looked exhausted after a hard fought victory in Boston in their last game.

So what? All the standings will show is that the Sabres won the game and received two points for their efforts. You’re not going to see many plays from this game on the highlight reels. There were only 43 total shots on goal in this game, by both teams. Ryan Miller looked stronger than in his previous start, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced. Scott Clemmensen was actually pretty good for the Panthers, stopping 18 of the 20 shots on goal he faced.

For the second game in a row, the Sabres exited the first period with a lead. Derek Roy scored a goal for the Sabres with just over two minutes left in the first period. Drew Statfford and Tyler Ennis assisted on the goal. The Sabres maintained that 1-0 lead until there was just under five minutes remaining in the second period. Then Jason Garrison scored a power play goal for the Panthers to knot the score at 1-1. Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg assisted on the goal.

The third period featured two teams waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. The Sabres only took three shots in the period, the Panthers only took six. Each team had one power play opportunity in the third period, but neither could capitalize. That meant that this game would be decided in overtime.

The Sabres seemed to find a reserve of energy in overtime and it paid off. After only managing three shots on goal for the entire third period, the Sabres fired four shots in just over two minutes of overtime play. The last shot was the game-winning goal by Jason Pominville on a breakaway created by a beautiful feed from Paul Szczechura. Jordan Leopold also assisted on the goal.

And just like that, it was over. The Sabres had won a game. At home. In overtime. See, it can happen! But it wouldn’t be a Sabres game if we didn’t have some injury issues. Sabres forward Corey Tropp got knocked out of the game in the first period and never returned with what is being called an “upper-body injury”. Jochen Hecht took a hard shot in the third period and did not return to action.

The Sabres won’t have much time to rest as their right back in action at home on Saturday night against the New York Rangers. You can’t have a winning streak without winning at least one game first, so lets see if the Sabres can make it two-in-a-row on Saturday night.

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