BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Early mistakes ultimately cost the Buffalo Sabres, who for the second straight game came up short on home ice, falling to the Florida Panthers 4-2. Ryan O'Reilly and Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres as they drop to 14-28-9.
Five observations from Thursday's loss:
Shooting themselves in the foot
After jumping ahead 1-0 the Sabres made a few costly mistakes, watching their lead vanish quicker than you can say "What the hell are they doing?" It started when Johan Larsson took a holding the stick penalty. Six seconds later Marco Scandella, in an attempt to clear the zone, fired a puck over the Panthers net, giving Florida a nearly two-minute 5-on-3. They made the Sabres pay as Keith Yandle fired a one-timer past Chad Johnson to tie things up.
O'Reilly, like Okposo, noted how many missed opportunities the #Sabres had. I thought the Sabres were the better team in the second and third they just couldn't finish @WKBWpic.twitter.com/wxBn4OqEAD
Two minutes after Yandle's goal the Sabres found themselves in the sin bin yet again, this time after a bench minor for too many men. Once again the Panthers capitalized, this time on a shot from Mike Matheson. Less than four minutes later Flordia added onto their lead with a goal from Denis Malgin. To say it was a rough opening period for the Sabres would be putting it lightly.
Anything but sweet
Another home game, another home loss for the Sabres who still only have six wins at KeyBank Center this season. From the looks of it, Thursday was one of the most poorly attended games in years. Judging by the crowd you would think this was a preseason game but with the way things have been going can you blame fans for staying home?
One step forward, two steps back
In his last outing, Chad Johnson was absolutely spectacular. The same can't be said for Thursday night as he allowed four goals on 30 shots. Sure, he didn't get much help, especially on the Panthers' third goal, but he also could've made a big save to keep this game close.
Like many, I thought the addition of Johnson in the offseason would give the Sabres a steady, reliable backup. Instead, we are 51 games into the season and Johnson has only two wins [14 starts, 19 appearances].
Chad Johnson has to make that save. That's brutal.
After the first 20 minutes, the Sabres were the better team and created some solid chances, they just couldn't solve Harri Sateri [great name, by the way]. During the second period, the Sabres worked a cycle for what seemed like an eternity but finished with nothing to show for it. In the third, Jack Eichel found Evander Kane alone in front, only for the shot to go high and wide. At the end of the day, Sateri deserves some credit. He weathered the storm as the Sabres tried to fight back.
That certainly escalated quickly. From the moment the puck dropped these two teams went after it. Things finally boiled over in the dying minutes as Johan Larsson cross-checked Vincent Trocheck in the face. Larsson was given a five-minute penalty, meaning the league will surely look into the play. The two teams combined for a whopping 82 penalty minutes.