Panthers Prey on Sabres
Sunday, 01.01.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
"The style Florida plays, and the goaltender they have, provides a very low chance to fair well if you make mistakes," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "Giving them the lead right off the start of the game lets them play their style of game."
The Sabres have not been able to find a way to tame the Panthers this season. In three loses to Florida, Buffalo has been outscored by a combined margin of 9-4.
"They've beat us three times so it has to be something," said Sabres co-captain Chris Drury of the dry spell. "They are well coached, well prepared and to lose three out of three to them is obviously not what we're looking for."
Much of the Panthers success can be accredited to outstanding goaltending. In those three contests against Buffalo, Roberto Luongo has averaged a save percentage of 0.956 and allowed just 1.33 goals per game.
"If they're goaltender is hot, it's obviously tough to get a few goals on him," said defenseman Jay McKee. "I'm glad they're not in our division because they have our number right now."
It doesn't seem to matter who starts in net for Buffalo against their foes from Sunrise, FL, the result has been the same. Ryan Miller made 20 saves and allowed two goals as the Sabres scored a goal or less for just the fifth time this season and the first instance since losing to Florida 4-1 on December 22.
"Anytime a goaltender keeps the opposition under two goals, I have a pretty hard time criticizing that performance," said Ruff of Miller's play.
The Sabres rookie netminder lost the first meeting with Florida 3-2 on November 15, while Martin Biron lost the second.
"The bottom line is we didn't get it done today," said McKee. "We are unhappy with anything less than two points right now."
On Florida's first shot on goal and just the second of the game, ageless center Joe Nieuwendyk snapped a wristshot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle that sneaks between Miller's arm and chest.
Miller finished out the period strong stopping the remaining eight shots that Florida mustered.
Henrik Tallinder tied the game 10 minutes later on a Sabres power play, firing from almost the exact angle he scored from in Toronto on December 29 into the top right corner of the net. Tallinder timed his shot just as Luongo had leaned down and released his offering almost parallel to the goal line. Buffalo's man-advantage unit failed to score on the team's other five opportunities.
After a slow starting second where the two teams combined for just five shots almost seven minutes into play, the Sabres finished the period outshooting Florida, 12-5.
Gary Roberts regained the lead for Florida with a power-play marker at 7:09 of the third. Cruising through the crease, Roberts redirected Olli Jokinen's shot from the right point over Miller's glove into the top of the net.
Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart
0-1 (0:32): On Florida's first shot and just the second shot of the game, Joe Nieuwendyk snaps a wristshot that skips off Ryan Miller's arm into the net. The goal is Nieuwendyk's eighth of the season. Nathan Horton and Mike Van Ryn get the helpers.
1-1 (10:30): On a Sabres power play, Henrik Tallinder receives an across-ice pass from Maxim Afinogenov and fires are wristshot from along the goal line into the top right corner of the net. The shot was almost the same angle as Tallinder's goal against Toronto on Dec. 29. Afinogenov records the primary assist, while fellow defenseman Toni Lydman gets the secondary.
1-2 (7:09): Gary Roberts regained the lead for Florida with a power-play marker at 7:09 of the third. Cruising through the crease, Roberts redirected Olli Jokinen's shot from the right point over Miller's glove into the top of the net.