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Photo courtesy of The AP

Sabres comeback falls short, Panthers win 4-3

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550)  -- Welcome once again into the Ted Darling Memorial Press Box, high atop ice level at First Niagara Center where for once I am sure it is warmer in here than it is outside. The Buffalo Sabres welcome the Florida Panthers to town for an Atlantic Division showdown. Yes, that still takes some getting used to.

The blue and gold will have Henrik Tallinder back in the lineup. The veteran defenseman has missed several games due to injury. Other than that, it should be as close to the same lineup as Ted Nolan fielded on Saturday night. Ryan MIller is expected back between the pipes for Buffalo. To find out who the odd man out on defense is with Tallinder's return, head over to Paul Hamilton's pregame primer by clicking here.

Feel free to add your comments during the game in the thread below, and I will toss in my two cents in between scoring plays. Also, be sure to give myself and Brian Koziol a follow on Twitter: @PatWGR and @BrianWGR.

First Period

17:37 - SABRES GOAL. Buffalo does not waste much time jumping on a Florida penalty to get the opening score of the game. Drew Stafford picks up the goal, and has scored in each of the last two games. 1-0 BUF.

15:54 - PANTHERS GOAL. That did not take long for Florida to get the equalizer. The captain Ed Jovanovski simply threw the puck at the net, and Jesse Winchester executes the tip drill to perfection. Ryan Miller did not stand a chance as the puck fluttered past him. 1-1 tie

13:44 - SABRES GOAL. What has gotten into Drew Stafford?! Mike Weber made a perfect hit in the offensive zone and the puck came right to the forward in the slot. He made no mistake, and the blue and gold have their second lead of the night. A very nice start by the hometown team. 2-1 BUF.

11:05 - Tyler Myers is in the penalty box, and his teammates are going to have to bail him out to keep the one-goal lead. Myers has been a far superior player ever since Ted Nolan took over behind the bench. If there is a case that needs to be made to remove the intermin tag from Nolan after the season, it starts with the play of Myers.

5:31 - There has been a very good pace to this game early on. Several nights recently I have seen the puck go up and down the ice without any real action. That is not the case tonight. Buffalo leads in shots on goal, 9-6, and several of them have been from high opportunity areas. 

1:56 - PANTHERS GOAL. Another tip dril in front of Ryan Miller, another goal for the visitors. This time it is Sean Bergenheim and this game is tied again. 2-2 tie.

1:04 - PANTHERS GOAL. The captain takes a shot just inside of the offensive zone, and a Sabres defenseman tries to deflect the shot away from the net, but it goes over Miller's shoulder and leads to another goal for the visitors. Ed Jovanovski has two points (1G, 1A) in the opening stanza. 3-2 FLA.
End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: 2:23 - Drew Stafford (6) PPG (Steve Ott, Linus Omark). 6:16 - Drew Stafford (7) (Tyler Ennis)
FLA: 4:06 - Jesse Winchester (6) (Ed Jovanovski, Jonathan Huberdeau). 18:04 - Sean Bergenheim (11) (Tom Gilbert, Aleksander Barkov). 18:56 - Ed Jovanovski (1) (unassisted)

Penalty Summary

BUF: 7:32 - Tyler Myers (2 min., holding)
FLA: 0:56 - Dmitry Kulikov (2 min., high sticking)

Shots on Goal

BUF - 10, FLA - 12 

Second Period

17:12 - The Sabres had a nice start to the first period, but sloppy play in front of Miller and the goaltender's own shaky play helped contribute to the one-goal deficit to start the second. All three goals were deflected into the net one way or another, and it is hard to fault any goaltender when that happens. 

15:57 - A chance for Buffalo to tie this game up with another power play goal. Scottie Upshall is in the box for tripping.

13:01 - The Panthers nearly took a two-goal lead early in this stanza. However, the whistle blew as Ryan Miller slid back into his net. Replays never showed the puck across the goal line, and after a video review the call on the ice stood. For more of an explanation from the NHL, click here.

10:26 - This period has been the antithesis of the opening frame. Just four combines shots so far, 2-2, and no real good scoring chances. Even the shot that nearly got past Miller was a relatively weak wrister that the net minder had a tough time with.

6:59 - Buffalo is going to the man advantage again. Maybe this time they can get aggressive and go for the game-tying goal. As Paul Hamilton pointed out to me a minute ago, the Sabres are doing the same thing as they did Saturday: go into a shell so that they do not get scored on, while the opponent just kills the clock because they are tired.

3:45 - PANTHERS GOAL. That might be the first goal that Ryan Miller wants back tonight. Nick Bjugstad raced into the Buffalo zone and wired a wrister over top of the goalie, and the lead has double for the visitors. 4-2 FLA.

End of Period

Goal Summary

BUF: none
FLA: 16:12 - Nick Bjugstad (11) (Brain Campbell, Tom Gilbert)

Penalty Summary

BUF: none
FLA: 3:29 - Scottie Upshall (2 min., tripping). 13:01 - Dmirty Kulikov (2 min., holding)

Shots on Goal

BUF - 9 (19), FLA - 6 (18)

Third Period

17:50 - Stafford made an attempt at the hat trick, then Cody Hodgson had a partial breakaway but Tim Thomas was up to the task to keep the game a two goal difference. He has been big for his team when he has had to be.

11:24 - SABRES GOAL. It felt like only a matter of time, and a Jesse Winchester penalty helped Buffalo get back within a goal. Steve Ott gets the goal on a mad scramble in front of the net. It his 100th career NHL goal. 4-3 FLA.

6:57 - Buffalo's power play is short lived as Linus Omark heads to the box, and it is 4-0n-4 for the next minute and a half, or so.

6:42 - Now it is 4-on-3, Sabres after Brad Boyes takes a high sticking double minor penalty. If Buffalo was ever going to tie the game, it would be in the next 1:29.

2:38 - The Sabres had nearly six straight minutes on power play time, but could not get the equalizer. The blue and gold made several good plays with crisp passing, but just could not seal the deal. This has been a frustrating period, but why did it take until the final twenty to get it going again.

1:14 - Miller has gone to the bench in favor of an extra attacker.

End of Game

Florida 4, Buffalo 3

Goal Summary

BUF: 8:36 - Steve Ott (6) PPG (Drew Stafford, Ville Leino)
FLA: none

Penalty Summary

BUF: 13:03 - Linus Omark (2 min., interference)
FLA: 6:59 - Jesse Winchester (2 min., slashing). 12:47 - Ed Jovanovski (2 min., hooking). 13:18 - Brad Boyes (4 min., high sticking)

Shots on Goal

BUF - 16 (35), FLA - 4 (22)

Final Thoughts

No, Ryan Miller was not at the top of his game tonight. However, I would have liked his teammates to show a little more effort in the first 40 minutes of play. Do not forget, the Panthers were the ones that played last night but they were the ones who dictated the play for much of the first two periods. Where was the effort that we saw in the opening minutes of this game? Why did it take until the start of the third period to really see it again? It should not have taken until that point to step up the offensive play. Buffalo will be faced with the same situation on Thursday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes for a seven o'clock faceoff. Catch all of the action, including pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m., on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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