The Florida Panthers handed the Buffalo Sabres their second loss in a row following a ten-game winning streak in Buffalo. The Sabres fell to the Lightning, 5-4, and then lost in overtime, 3-2, on Friday night. All 30 Panther fans at the game had to be excited for the outcome. They got a point out of the loss last night, though, so points in 11 out of 12 games isn’t anything to discredit. Sabres’ fans have been getting spoiled recently and might start to expect too much from them.
They got a lot of wins by 1 goal during that winning streak, and in their two losses since, they lost by a goal as well. They have to hope that their ten-game winning streak just wasn’t a blip and variance doesn’t catch up to them, with 1 goal games suddenly turning into losses.
Chalk up two losses in that category. Good win for the Panthers, though, who were the better team for most of the night. They tied it up in the 3rd and then were the team to get a break in overtime. The Sabres had control of the puck for about the first 2 minutes of the extra frame, but the Panthers ended it quickly without too much puck control. Barkov was responsible for the winner. There isn’t any time to celebrate the win, as they must gear up for the Lightning on Saturday.
James Reimer got the starting call in net against the Sabres last night. The Panthers’ goaltender tonight is a bit of a mystery. There is a very small chance that Roberto Luongo plays. Very small as in a 99% chance he will not be suiting up. That would leave Reimer on a back-to-back to face two quality offences, or give Michael Hutchison a crack at the Lightning. Hutchison has appeared in just four games this season. The Jets seemed to make a wise decision moving on from Hutchison. Tampa will look to keep it rolling after a 5-4 win to the Ducks Sabres on Thursday. Get our free Lightning vs. Panthers pick below.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers Pick
The Lightning and Sabres are currently deadlocked for 1st place in the NHL with 37 points. A win for the Lightning tonight would give them a 2-point lead. I think we will ultimately see the Lightning pull away from the Sabres in the Eastern Conference and maybe a couple of other teams.
The Sabres look like a playoff team, but I’d be surprised if they are still atop the standings come spring time. Doubting Vegas last year didn’t work out well for people fading them, but I’m just trying to be realistic with a team who were dead last a season ago.
Jeff Skinner will eventually hit a stretch of run bad. The Bolts have won four of their last five games. Their only loss came against the Ducks in a 3-1 final. Tampa are 1st in the league with 3.73 goals per game and are going to have the benefit of teeing-off on a bad Panthers’ defence.
They likely won’t have to deal with Luongo this evening, so it’s either a tired Reimer or Hutchison who has been awful with a 4.18 GAA and 0.839 save percentage. The Panthers are 28th with 3.5 goals surrendered per game. Despite the win yesterday, they’ve allowed just over 4 goals per game in their last ten outings. Tampa have recorded 3.9 per game in their previous ten dates on the ice. They’ve gone 6-1 over the Panthers in their last seven outings against their instate “rivals”. It’s difficult to call such a lopsided series a rivalry. I’d take a look at the Lightning to get it done over the Panthers in this stop on Saturday who are coming off a big win overtime a night ago.