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Sabres’ Struggles Continue in Loss to Panthers

Florida edges Buffalo, dropping them down in the wildcard race.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Score: Sabres 1 | Panthers 4

Shots: BUF 29 | FLA 34

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Alex Tuch (21)

Florida Panthers Goals: Brandon Montour (8), Sam Bennett (10), Anton Lundell (5), Carter Verhaeghe (20)

Minus-1: No Power in That Play

The Sabres went 0-for-3 on the power play, but perhaps even more frustratingly, they only recorded just two shots on goal total on the advantage across the game. The Panthers’ PK isn’t exactly spectacular - they were 23rd in the league entering Monday afternoon’s game - and yet, Buffalo just could not capitalize or hit the net.

The Sabres also won just one of four face-offs on the power play.

On the plus side, at least the Panthers didn’t fare much better. They also had three power-play opportunities - full ones, for a total of six minutes on the advantage - and managed only three shots on goal, and no goals.

Minus-1: A Dull Game

Starting off the second half of the season with a loss isn’t great, but it’s made worse by the fact that it came against the Panthers, a close competitor for a wildcard spot. Monday’s dull performance from the Sabres allowed Florida to jump them in the standings, and though both teams remain out of a wildcard spot right now, eery game counts - especially these divisional matchups.

The Sabres just didn’t look like they had it on Monday. Even going into the third period down 2-0, there was still plenty of time left to score twice and tie it. Instead, they allowed the Panthers to strike just 34 seconds in, a heartbreaking start to a period.

Final Thoughts

Alex Tuch was on the ice for all five goals in Monday’s game. Doesn’t particularly say anything good or bad about him, just an interesting stat. On the other hand, Henri Jokiharju was on the ice for three of Florida’s four goals - the empty-netter was the lone exception. Owen Power was with him for two of those goals.

Another ‘fun’ stat: the Sabres’ top line (Skinner-Thompson-Tuch) combined for one goal and nine shots on goal. The fourth line (Girgensons-Asplund-Okposo) also combined for nine shots on goal. The other two lines had seven shots combined.

To his credit, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had 30 saves. He isn’t perfect and he certainly has his tough nights, but he’s easily the best of the Sabres’ three goalies right now.

The Sabres get right back in action on Tuesday night, traveling to face the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are the worst team in the NHL with a record of 11-26-4.