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Buffalo Faces Florida Rematch

Sabres Continue Southern Road Trip

Florida Panthers v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 73

Buffalo Sabres (26-35-11) vs. Florida Panthers (49-15-6)

Puck Drop: 7:00PM EDT FLA Live Arena Sunrise, FL

TV: MSG-B, BSFL

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Florida Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Know Your Opponent

Florida Panthers

Record: Florida Panthers (49-15-6)

Last Game: 7-6 OT win over the Leafs

Division Ranking: 1st in the Atlantic Division

PP: 7th (23.68%)

PK: 17th (78.83%)

What to Watch

1. Can the Sabres Beat the Cats This Season?

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t won a game against the Florida Panthers since Jan. 4, 2020. Every time the two teams have met in the past two years, the Panthers have annihilated their opponent, beating Buffalo by more than one goal. Kyle Okposo, speaking for the rest of the players, said at Wednesday’s practice at KeyBank Center that he didn’t want the year to end. Dylan Cozens added that if the Sabres outworked their opponents, they’d continue to win games. The Sabres failed to outwork Carolina yesterday. Fans would like to see them outwork the Panthers once this season and come away with two points.

2. Will the Refs Keep Their Thumbs Off the Scales?

During their last matchup against Florida on April 3rd, the Sabres came back from a three-goal deficit to score two power play goals within two minutes and come close to tying the game. Then the refs gave Tage Thompson a tripping penalty late in the third period and on top of that, penalized Mattias Samuelsson for hooking, to give the Cats a 5-3 man advantage. Not surprisingly, Florida scored and put the game out of reach.

WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton called the tripping call “ridiculous” and pointed out that officials had been ignoring similar behavior across the NHL for the previous three weeks. If Florida wins legitimately, nobody will argue the result. However, the refs shouldn’t determine games. Whenever they do, the calls seem to disproportionately favor Buffalo’s opponents.

3. Thompson, Tuch and Skinner Continue to Score

The Sabres’ top offensive line of Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner keeps making plays and getting goals. Thompson was the first player to get 30 goals and 50 points this season. Tuch has enjoyed 10 goals and 33 points while Skinner has notched 29 and 53. Skinner also tied with Thompson for a career high 219 shots on goal. Tuch, part of the Sabres’ Jack Eichel trade with Vegas, hasn’t played a full season with Buffalo but he’s already become an essential part of the franchise.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Alex Tuch-Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson

Peyton Krebs-Vinnie Hinostroza-Dylan Cozens

Victor Olofsson-Casey Mittelstadt-Ramus Asplund

Zemgus Girgensons- Cody Eakin- Kyle Okposo

Defense

Henri Jokiharju-Ramsus Dahlin

Casey Fitzgerald-Mattias Samuelsson

Mark Pysyk-Jacob Bryson

Starting Goalie: Craig Anderson

Florida Panthers

Forwards

Carter Verhaege- Alexsander Barkov- Anthony Duclair

Jonathan Huberdeau- Sam Bennett-Claude Giroux

Mason Marchment- Anton Lundell-Sam Reinhart

Ryan Lomberg- Eetu Luostarinen- Patric Hornqvist

Defense

Gustav Forsling- MacKenzie Weegar

Ben Chiarot-Radko Gudas

Robert Haag-Brandon Montour

Starting Goalie: Spencer Knight