The Sunshine State wasn’t very good to the Buffalo Sabres this time around.
It was a lackluster first period for the Sabres, as they were outshot 14-6 and beat in shot attempts 27-7. The Sabres were being outshot by only a margin of 5-4, however, when Jeff Skinner potted his team-leading 20th goal of the season to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
Jack Eichel bounced the puck off the boards, chipping it into a pass to Sam Reinhart. Reinhart then got the puck to Skinner across the ice in front of the net, throwing it between two Panthers players with a quick pass. Skinner completed the play by putting it in the net over James Reimer.
That was the highlight of the first period for the Sabres. The Panthers stepped up and took the next nine shots on goal, finally getting one past Linus Ullmark. Jared McCann had the equalizer for Florida, tallying a power-play goal during a penalty to Rasmus Dahlin.
The teams skated off tied at one after twenty minutes, but the Sabres were outplayed for much of the first period, including being outhit by a 15-4 margin.
Just 2:41 into the second period, Reinhart regained the lead for the Sabres, perfectly timing a move to hit a pass from Eichel into the net. The goal, Reinhart’s sixth of the season, came on the man advantage with Florida’s Nick Bjugstad in the box. Also getting an assist on the goal: Linus Ullmark.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The Sabres still found themselves outshot after forty minutes, but it was a better period for Buffalo than the first had been.
The lead lasted for more than half of the third period, but the Panthers tied it once again with 8:04 to play in regulation. Evgenii Dadonov scored on a rebound for Florida’s second power-play tally of the evening.
After a third period in which the Sabres were once again outshot - this time by a margin of 16-7 - the teams headed to overtime. Overall, Buffalo was outshot 42-22 in regulation.
With 2:34 to play in the overtime period, Aleksander Barkov picked up a feed from Jonathan Huberdeau to the left of Ullmark. Ullmark was unable to get over in time, leaving that side of the net open for Barkov to slap home the game-winning goal.
With the loss, the Sabres haven’t won in Florida against the Panthers since 2015.
Friday’s game marked the fifth time in eight games that the Sabres required extra time. The Sabres have now earned at least a point in 11 of their last 12 games - which is no small feat. Despite the loss, having earned a point means the Sabres are tied for first place in the NHL with 37 points and an overall record of 17-7-3.
Next up, however, are more challenging games ahead for Buffalo as they’ll face the two teams directly below them in the standings. The Sabres visit Nashville Monday and host Toronto on Tuesday.