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Sabres vs Panthers Preview: Getting desperate for a win

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Can the Sabres turn it around at home this afternoon?

NHL: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres
Roberto Luongo makes a save
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Game #7

Buffalo Sabres (1-3-2) vs Florida Panthers (3-3-1)

Puck drop: 1:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
TV: MSG-B, FS-F | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres consistently play like the 2nd period on Thursday?

Despite not scoring in a shutout loss to the Wild, the Sabres played the best we’ve seen this season so far in that second period and parts of the third. Buffalo had 31 shot attempts to Minnesota’s 11 in the middle stanza, but were unable to solve goalie Devan Dubnyk.

However, if they can sustain that level of play, a turnaround in fortunes cannot be far behind.

2. Will the Sabres special teams spark a resurgence?

The power play unit has been responsible for six of the fourteen goals the team has scored so far. However, Matt Moulson aside, the rest of the players haven’t quite fired yet. Dan Bylsma swapped out Derek Grant from the second PP group, putting in Hudson Fasching yesterday in practice.

Meanwhile, the penalty kill group was among the league leaders until that debacle on Tuesday in Philadelphia. They will be looking to shut out the Panthers power play that is ranked 21st in the League coming into today’s game.

3. Kulikov versus Pysyk, who has a better game?

The Sabres traded Mark Pysysk over the summer to Florida to get Dmitry Kulikov, the left-handed defenseman that GMTM needed. There has been plenty of angst among the statsheads in Buffalo about losing Pysyk, today we’ll get to see who contributes more to their team as they go up head-to-head. It’s also Kulikov’s birthday today.

Kulikov is yet to register a point in five games despite 21:38 of TOI, while Pysyk has one goal in seven games, playing 15:13 a night.

Projected BUF Lines

26 Matt Moulson - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo

63 Tyler Ennis - 23 Sam Reinhart - 28 Zemgus Girgensons

82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta

52 Hudson Fasching - 27 Derek Grant - 44 Nicolas Deslauriers

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

77 Dmitry Kulikov - 47 Zach Bogosian

29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson

Goal: 31 Anders Nilsson