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Buffalo Sabres

Sabres Lose to Panthers 4-0 in 45 Save Shutout



Florida Panthers Buffalo Sabres game recap

It’s not often a team puts up 45 shots on goal and loses, and it’s even rarer to post 45 shots and not score. The Buffalo Sabres did just that on Thursday as Anthony Stolarz and the Florida Panthers walked away with a shutout victory.

Carter Verhaeghe started the scoring for the Panthers about halfway through the first period and followed up an Anton Lundell goal with a game-sealing empty netter towards the end of the third. For good measure, Ryan Lomberg potted a powerplay goal with 12 seconds remaining to rub salt in the wound.

Impact Players

Stolarz deserves the first mention with his shutout performance. The Sabres only posted 3.16 expected goals in the game, but three goals would have been enough the way the game played out. There were quality chances early, and some real good looks on the powerplay where Stolarz was able to get a piece.

Also very noticeable was the Florida trio of Eetu Luostarinen, Anton Lundell, and Evan Rodrigues. The Panthers’ forecheck was giving the Sabres breakout fits, which disrupted the flow of the Tage Thompson line in particular. Lundell ended up with a goal and an assist, but Luostarinen was the game’s best player in terms of expected goal percentage when on the ice.

The Difference

The Panthers’ first goal was a big turning point in the game, even though it was still early in the contest. Aleksander Barkov made a slick steal on Ryan Johnson in the corner and fed it to a wide-open Verhaeghe in front of the net. It’s a play he’s made many times, although head coach Don Granato took issue with the play.

“Their first goal was definitely on the hands of Ryan Johnson,” he said. “Obviously tough for the officials to see, but that was unfortunate that that one ends up in our net.”

The play came after some point-blank chances early on for Buffalo, and had the Sabres chasing the score instead of imposing their will like on Tuesday.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen Update

Luukkonen was a late scratch today in a surprise move, as Eric Comrie got the nod in net and the team called up Dustin Tokarski from Rochester. According to Granato, Luukkonen was dealing with something during the morning skate and they didn’t want to risk further injury.

“He skated this morning and it was still hopeful that he could go, but the decision was [to] give him another day of rest.”

When asked about the Finnish netminder’s prospects of playing Saturday, Granato responded, “I’d say there’s a good chance.”

What’s Next

The Sabres will now travel to Minnesota to face the Wild on Saturday in a 5 pm ET start. The Wild are on the outside looking in with the playoff picture out west, but they’ve won four straight. Their -11 goal-differential is worse than Buffalo’s -9, but ever since replacing Dean Evason with John Hynes behind the bench, they’re playing at a 96-point pace.