Goodbye to the Eastern Conference Basement for Buffalo Sabres

By Emma Harger
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Gerbe scored his first of the season and Tyler Ennis had the Buffalo Sabres up 2-0 midway through the first period against the Florida Panthers, but the old saying about a two-nothing lead being the hardest to hold proved itself true yet again. Mere minutes after Ennis’ power play goal had the Sabres holding a good lead on the road, Florida’s Drew Shore struck on the power play (taking advantage of a hooking penalty, the exact same call he was done in for that allowed Ennis to go up by two) and Marcel Goc quickly added a tying goal to suddenly change the tone of the game.

Well, for about a minute, anyway. Gerbe put up another goal to make it 3-2 heading into the intermission. That also meant a goaltender change for the Panthers and the end of the night for Scott Clemmensen, who’d allowed three goals on just 10 Buffalo shots faced.

George Parros, and his lush mustache, answered the call early in the first period by taking on John Scott, who’d just laid a big hit on Dmitry Kulikov. In a long-lasting fight that consisted mostly of jabs and holding one another literally at arm’s length, Scott got Parros’ helmet off, but Parros got Scott’s face leaking with blood and there were even some drops on the ice, which can be seen around the end of this video:

But if the first period was hectic, the second period was pretty much the exact opposite–Buffalo put up a measly five shots while Florida peppered Ryan Miller with 16 of them. The home team out-shot the Sabres again in the third period by a 14 to 8 margin and four to one in the overtime period, in total out-shooting Buffalo 43 to 25.

In the very end of regulation, the Panthers had some more gas left in the tank, though, and Brian Campbell knotted up the game with a helper from Goc.

The Sabres prevailed in the shootout and Miller had a relatively small workload, needing to only make one save because Jonathan Huberdeau missed. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both scored to grab the 4-3 win and helped Buffalo escape the lowest depths of the Eastern Conference basement–though they only leaped up to 14th place.

Still, the Sabres can use every win they can get if they want to find some success under interim new coach Ron Rolston and they’ve just swept their trip down to the Sunshine State. Now they’re headed back home to the First Niagara Center for a 3 p.m. game on Feb. 2 against the New Jersey Devils, who just took a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night.


Emma Harger is a Boston Bruins and NHL writer for Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and add her to your network on Google.

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