Sabres at Panthers recap: Ekblad powers Panthers over Sabres 3-2

The Sabres dropped their second straight game in Florida last night as the Panthers proved too much to handle.

The Buffalo Sabres had a chance to draft Aaron Ekblad last June, if only the ping-pong balls (or the Panthers front office) would have bounced their way. After last night's three-assist performance, many Sabres fans might be wondering "what if."

Ekblad's three assists powered all of the Panthers offense in a 3-2 Florida win. The Panthers opened the scoring with a reminder of the Sabres past failures, as Brad Boyes scored his fifth of the year. The second period featured two goals from each team - Drew Stafford and Brian Gionta scored for Buffalo, while Tomas Kopecky and Nick Bjugstad scored for the Panthers.

Neither team could muster any offense in the third period, and the game ended in a 3-2 loss for the Sabres. Michal Neuvirth got his first start in a few weeks and performed well, and while the Sabres played much better than their last game in Tampa, it just wasn't enough against the currently playoff-bound Panthers.

Three Questions

1. How bad will the shot differential look tonight?

The Sabres were outshot 37-28, which for them is actually a fairly respectable number. Matt Moulson led the way with seven shots.

2. How will Michal Neuvirth look in his first game since November 18?

Neuvirth gave a solid effort, stopping 34 of 37 shots, and standing tall in the third period as the Sabres were trying to tie the game.

3. Can the Sabres bounce back from one of their worst games of the season, or will the tailspin continue?

Last night was a solid effort from the Sabres against a superior Florida team, and they kept the game close all night. They didn't take bad penalties, won the faceoff battle, and the game was close all night.