Everyone knows young defensemen make mistakes, even the ones that are going to be good. That was certainly the case last night with Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov. Ristolainen was on the ice for three goals, and Zadorov for two.
After going up 2-0 in the first period, the second period was not a pleasant one for the Sabres.
Florida's first goal, credited to Sean Bergenheim, resulted from a bad giveaway by Ristolainen right near the Sabres net. Sabre legend Brad Boyes picked it up and passed to Bergenheim, who tried to return the favor. However, the puck bounced of Zadorov's skate and into the net.
Jimmy Hayes' goal came just three minutes later, as a Bergenheim pass went right between Ristolainen's legs right in front of Jhonas Enroth. Hayes just slammed the puck into the open net.
After Jussi Jokinen and Brian Gionta alternated goals in the third period the two teams went to overtime. It only took 29 seconds for the Sabres to walk away winners. Tyler Ennis showed off some fancy puck skills and passed it to Zadorov, whose sharp shot beat Al Montoya.
The Sabres did score four goals, which is impressive. However, a lot of the credit has to go to Montoya. It wasn't the best night for the Panthers backup goalie, as the Sabres first three goals were all a little soft. The Sabres did outshoot them 32 to 29, a great Christmas miracle.
The Sabres are six points out of a playoff spot, which sounds pretty amazing. It's smart to remember they are also seven points away from 30th. Their heroic race to 9th place may be hitting a roadbump, as they lost two defenseman last night. Josh Gorges hurt his leg blocking a shot, and Andrej Meszaros caught a puck in the face. Ted Nolan said both are doubtful for Monday, but Tyson Strachan might be back to fill one of their spots. The other spot will likely need to be filled by a Rochester defenseman, likely Mark Pysyk, Chad Ruhwedel, or Jake McCabe.
All three of those players are arguably better than Meszaros though. This team can't even tank right.