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5 Observations: Panthers top Sabres 4-3 in SO

5 Observations: Panthers top Sabres 4-3 in SO
Posted at 11:35 PM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 23:35:56-05

After falling behind two goals the Buffalo Sabres struck back, scoring the next three goals, giving the team a new hope. With the clock ticking down things looked good for the Sabres, until a force awakened the Florida Panthers, tying things up late, and eventually winning in a shootout 4-3. 

Five observations from Tuesday's loss:

 Runnin' through the 716 with my shootout woes 

The Buffalo Sabres are now 1-5 when going into a shootout this season. Robin Lehner, who was in goal for the Sabres again on Tuesday night, has yet to make a save in a shootout this season. He has faced six shots  in shootouts and has allowed six goals. Lehner has openly said after almost every shootout loss that he's diligently working on stopping breakaways, but it clearly isn't working. There's really no explaining Lehner's struggles -- but it'll be interesting to see how the Sabres handle the issue. 

A man possessed

There are no words to describe how unbelievable Rasmus Ristolainen is playing right now. With his assist and goal on Tuesday, Ristolainen now has 15 points in his last 13 games. He is now sixth in the league in power play points (13) and is tied for fourth in points among defenseman (23). For some perspective, here are the defenseman with more points than Ristolainen:

Brent Burns - 30 points
Erik Karlsson - 30 points
Victor Hedman - 25 points
Kevin Shattenkirk - 23 (tied)

Ristolainen needs to mature in his own end, but he's becoming without question one of the best offensive defenseman in the game -- some might even say he's ELITE.

ANOTHER slow start for the Sabres

Panthers first period shots - 16
Sabres first period shots - 4

That can't happen. Plain and simply, it was a small miracle that Buffalo was only down one goal going into the second period. This has been a reoccurring problem for the Sabres, who have given up the first goal in each of their last five games.  During that stretch the Sabres are 2-1-2. 

traffic, traffic, lookin' for my chapstick

When there's traffic in front of the net good things happen and we saw this firsthand on all three of the second period goals.  Florida took a 2-0 lead on a wrist shot from the point by Keith Yandle, but the puck beat Lehner because he didn't see the shot thanks to a Jaromir Jagr screen.

The same thing happened on Buffalo's first of the evening -- when Sam Reinhart deflected a Ristolainen shot past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. Just a minute and ten seconds later the Sabres tied things up courtesy Evander Kane, who cleaned up the garbage Mighty Ducks style just outside the blue paint.

And speaking of Kane

Evander Kane has five goals in the Sabres last six games, and truly looks like a different player. He's creating pressure in the offensive zone while taking smarter shots, which have ultimately led to more goals.

Remember, this is the same player who didn't have a goal in his first 12 games this season. Since, he has six goals and seven points in Buffalo's last eight games. Kane has been shuffled up and down the Sabres lineup -- but he's starting to show that he can still score goals at an impressive rate.

Bonus: Jaromir Jagr is still the G.O.A.T.

Okay, he's not the greatest of all time, but on Tuesday he made history and showed us that at 44-years-old he's still got it. With three assists against the Sabres, Jagr is now tied with Mark Messier for the second most points in NHL history (1,887 points). He's truly been a treat to watch and is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play the game.
 

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