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Granato Gets Heated; Sabres Burnt In Florida 3-2



Buffalo Sabres Florida Panthers game recap

Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato pointed at the officiating as his team fell to the Florida Panthers 3-2 Tuesday in a chippy game. The Panthers are a team full of agitators, but the Sabres also lost their cool at the refereeing in the game, which ultimately led to their demise.

When the Panthers visited Buffalo back on the 15th, the Sabres couldn’t score on 45 shots. This time, Buffalo opened the scoring on the powerplay thanks to a Dylan Cozens one-timer. However, Florida responded with goals from Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk before the end of the first period. Alas, the luxury of scoring the first goal was erased.

In the third period, former Sabre Brandon Montour provided the insurance goal on a 5-on-3 powerplay shot from the point. The Panthers’ powerplay itself was controversial, as Granato was very heated with the refs over a tripping call on Zach Benson. Granato’s outburst cost the team an extra minor penalty and ultimately the game.

Tage Thompson scored with just over seven minutes remaining in the third, but the Sabres couldn’t come up with the equalizer after that.

Impact Players

There was no one standout player in the game, but Tage Thompson had chance after chance and seemed destined for “one of those nights”. There was a noticeable sigh of relief when he finally scored the final goal of the game, albeit with the team still trailing.

The Thompson, Jeff Skinner, Alex Tuch line is starting to get back on track. Rasmus Dahlin is playing at an elite level. Now, the rest of the team has to string nights together to give the Sabres a glimpse of the true caliber of this lineup going forward.

As for the Panthers’ side of things, Matthew Tkachuk was a nuisance all night. He embraced and perhaps drew the Sabres into a chippy game, and was Florida’s best play-driver. Add in his goal and assist, and it was your typical Tkachuk game that gives opponents fits.

The Difference

Without a doubt, the difference in Tuesday’s game was Buffalo’s penalties and the response to them. It all started with a race for the puck to beat out an icing, where Benson was mauled by Dmitry Kulikov on a dangerous play into the boards at high speed.

While Kulikov predictably was called for interference, Benson also received a minor for holding. It was a phantom call, at best.

Later, Nick Cousins – a known instigator – initiated contact with Jordan Greenway and fell to the ice holding his face. Once a big scrum ensued, Cousins felt good enough to get right up and join in on the action. Greenway was awarded the extra minor on the play.

The costly Benson call in the third period seemed to be the final straw for Granato, who erupted to earn the bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“Do I regret anything?” Granato said, “At some point, you got to stand up for your team. You’re put in that position as a coach. It’s a tough position to be in. But you can’t sit and watch.”

When asked about the treatment Benson has received from the referees, not only in the Sabres and Panthers game but all season, Granato responded, “I’m glad you brought that up and not me.”

What’s Next

The Sabres remain on their Florida trip as they head to Tampa to face the Lightning on Thursday. The Lightning also lost Tuesday, keeping them 11 points ahead of Buffalo in the standings. Tampa Bay also occupies the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Thursday’s tilt could be the last big swing on the Sabres’ playoff hopes.