Despite having a lead in the third period the Buffalo Sabres lost for the second consecutive night, falling to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in OT. Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres, who slip to 17-7-3 on the season.
5 Observations from Friday's loss:
With Nashville and Toronto on the horizon, this felt like a game the Sabres needed. There is no denying this team has played some great hockey but dropping back-to-back games after rattling off 10-straight wins isn't a good look. Now the blue and gold will have to steal a game in Nashville or they'll be looking at an oh-so-dreaded three-game losing streak. They deserve a sliver of credit for at least snagging a point but blowing leads in consecutive games can't happen if the Sabres are going to contend for a playoff spot.
With his 20th goal of the season, Jeff Skinner becomes only the second player in Sabres franchise history to reach the 20-goal mark before December. So who was the other? Rick Martin in the 1973-1974 season.
The goal also makes Skinner one of only seven players to tally his 20th goal in less than 27 games.
Check out the company he joins:
Alexander Mogilny [23 games]
Richard Martin [24 games]
Dave Andreychuk [26 games]
Danny Gare [26 games]
Pat Lafontaine [27 games]
Thomas Vanek [27 games]
Based on his production and the aforementioned list, it would likely be a good idea to extend Skinner.
After a pretty slow start to the season, Samson Reinhart has started to really produce for his team. On Friday evening Reinhart assisted on Skinner’s first period goal and found the back of the net for the sixth time this season in the middle frame.
With his two points against the Panthers, Reinhart now has nine points in the Sabres last 10 games [he also has 15 points in 14 games]. Playing alongside Eichel and Skinner has certainly helped Reinhart rack up the points. But the 23-year-old winger has also been doing what he does best. Going to the net and scoring from in close. That has been on display in the first two games of the road trip and will likely continue based on his recent surge.
Ready for takeoff
For weeks fans have been clamoring for the debut of highly-touted rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut. On Friday it was finally time. Injuries to Marco Scandella and Jake McCabe [both are day-to-day] propelled Pilut into the lineup, making him the eighth defenseman to appear in a game for the Sabres this season.
For the most part, I thought Pilut did a good job in his first NHL game despite his limited ice-time. His biggest mistake came in the third period when he tried forcing a pass up the middle of the ice. It went right to a Panthers forward, he was denied by Ullmark.
Adjusting to the speed of the NHL after only a handful of games in Rochester is quite the tall task. But Pilut managed to join the rush a few times while looking responsible in his own end. Overall it was a perfectly fine debut.
Fun fact — Linus Ullmark still doesn’t have a regulation loss this season. Despite one bad outing against the Montreal Canadiens, Ullmark has been rock solid in nearly every game he’s played this season. With his win on Friday, Ullmark is now 5-0-2 this season. Against the Panthers, Ullmark turned away 40 of the 43 shots he faced, including several solid chances from Florida. If you ask me, Ullmark was the Sabres best player on Friday.