The Buffalo Sabres had a two-goal lead in the second period of tonight's game, but allowed it to slip away as they were defeated by the Florida Panthers 4-3.
Thomas Vanek opened the scoring early in the first period after a pretty between-the-legs pass from Jason Pominville found him in the slot. Cody Hodgson buried a nifty Vanek pass later in the period to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead in the first period. They were able to extend that lead in the second period when Alexander Sulzer scored on a rocket shot from the point. Unfortunately for the Sabres, they weren't able to continue to build on the momentum they created.
"We had our opportunities in the second period to put them away," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after the game. "The breakaway, and the three or four point-blank opportunities when it was 3-1."
The breakaway Ruff mentioned was by Tyler Ennis, who split the Florida defense, but was unable to put it past Jose Theodore. After the Sabres squandered their opportunities, the Panthers capitalized on theirs.
"We were really skating well, and we made a mistake on our blueline again, that allowed them the odd-numbered rush, which hurt us," Ruff said.
The Sabres also continued a troubling trend by allowing Florida to score with less than a minute to go in the second period which tied the game. Ruff says that although the team has made a habit of allowing late goals, this one in particular didn't break the team's spirit.
"I don't think the spirit was broken," Ruff said. "We played a lot of hockey in the last three to four days. I think that some of our top guys, when the shift got a bit long, didn't have much left. It hurts, but you got to pick yourself up."
Buffalo also allowed ex-Sabre Brian Campbell to get the game-winning goal on the power play in the third period. Buffalo looked to have energy, but a late penalty by Marcus Foligno and a blocked Christian Ehrhoff shot in the dying seconds sealed the fate for the Sabres.
Buffalo's loss marks their sixth in seven games and the early part of the season is proving to be trouble for them. Buffalo will take tomorrow off to regroup as they will travel to Ottawa Tuesday at 7:30.
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