BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Despite jumping out to an early lead the Buffalo Sabres failed to score a goal in the final 46 minutes of Friday's game, falling to the Florida Panthers 4-1. With the loss, Buffalo now sits in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-9-2 record.
Five observations from Friday's loss:
That's a terrible penalty for Nolan. I know he wants to defend his teammates but you can't throw away a power play like that, especially down a goal #Sabres— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 11, 2017
Too little, too late
For nearly the entire second period and the first half of the third period, Buffalo's offense disappeared. When they finally woke up it was too late, losing to the only team in the Eastern Conference that entered the night with fewer points. This was a game the Sabres needed to build some momentum. Instead, they looked flat and couldn't generate much of anything.
Anyone else think Beaulieu has looked really comfortable tonight?— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 11, 2017
It was anything but a great start to the season for newly acquired defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in his first eight games with the Sabres. Beaulieu made several costly turnovers and at times looked to be hurting the Sabres, not helping them.
On Friday he returned to the lineup after missing the last seven games with an upper-body injury, putting together his most noticeable game of the season. Beaulieu looked comfortable with the puck, jumping into the rush at the right times while not hurting his team defensively. One game is surely a small of a sample size but Friday was a very impressive outing.
Power Play Progress....sort of
Entering Friday's game, no team in the NHL had allowed more power play goals than the Panthers. Perhaps that was just what the doctor ordered for the Sabres, who capitalized on their first man advantage of the evening. With the goal from Kyle Okposo, the Sabres now have more power play goals [seven] than shorthanded goals [six]. You may now collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
The good, the bad and the ugly
In the first period, Victor Antipin doubled his point total on the year [two points in 12 games] with the primary assist on Okposo's goal. Antipin took a nice feed from defensive partner Nathan Beaulieu before he fired a wrist shot into traffic. Okposo, who was parked right in front of the net, redirected Antipin's shot past Panthers goaltender Roberto 'Strombone' Luongo. It was a nice play by Antipin getting the puck to the net, rather than electing to make another pass.
However, Antipin's sloppiest play of the night happened just minutes later when he gift-wrapped a turnover to Radim Vrbata, who had just Lehner to beat. Luckily for Antipin, the Sabres goaltender was up to the task and made a sprawling save to prevent a goal. It was an up and down night for the Sabres rookie defenseman. More than anything, he needs to limit the sloppy mistakes like the turnover at the end of the first period.
Despite averaging nearly a point-per-game, Jack Eichel hasn't found the back of the net since October 21 against the Bruins. After Tuesday's win against the Capitals, the Sabres assistant captain admitted that he needs to start shooting the puck more and his coach agreed.
Against the Panthers, Eichel had three shots but couldn't generate much offense, at least by his standards. Let's not get carried away, Eichel is and will continue to be the Sabres biggest offensive threat, he just is in a bit of a goal-scoring slump. If I were a betting man I'd imagine that ends soon.