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game recap

Anders Nilsson, Sabres defeat Panthers

Buffalo goalie makes 33 saves for first shutout in more than four years

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Anders Nilsson made 33 saves for the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center on Saturday. 

Nilsson's second NHL shutout came in his third consecutive start. His previous shutout came on March 4, 2012, when he made 24 saves for the New York Islanders in a 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils.

Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck had a chance to break the shutout when he was awarded a penalty shot with 57 seconds remaining after he was hooked on a breakaway, but he shot his attempt over the net. 

"Never seen a [shutout] like that," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Trocheck gets the breakaway … with a minute left and then the penalty shot. [Nilsson] was going to earn the shutout with a stop. I don't know if he got a piece of the penalty shot or he just missed, but he earned it with that one."

Video: FLA@BUF: Nilsson forces puck wide by cutting angle

The Sabres (2-3-2) ended a four-game losing streak. The Panthers (3-4-1) have lost three straight. 

"I think the most important thing is the two points we got tonight," Nilsson said. "That's huge for us and it means a lot for our confidence and that's something to build on and hopefully we can continue to play the way we did tonight."

Johan Larsson gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 7:47 into the first period with his first goal of the season. He received a pass from Brian Gionta and took a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo over his left shoulder.

"I think [Gionta] won a battle and I just stayed and tried to get a spot and he just made a great pass and I was just trying to hit the net and it went in; it was a great feeling," Larsson said.

Kyle Okposo gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal 5:57 into the second period. Okposo put a rebound of a Rasmus Ristolainen shot that was tipped by Sam Reinhart and went off the crossbar past Luongo for his second goal of the season and first at home as a member of the Sabres.

Video: FLA@BUF: Okposo buries the rebound on power play

Reinhart gave the Sabres a 3-0 lead with a power-play goal 8:48 into the third period. After Jaromir Jagr took a hooking penalty, Reinhart sent a pass from behind the net that Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk inadvertently kicked through Luongo's five-hole for his first of the season.

"I think if it goes by, [Okposo]'s wide open," Reinhart said. "I think I've had chances this year. I think the way the year has been going, that's the way the first one had to go in, because the chances have been there."

Video: FLA@BUF: Reinhart buries his first goal of the year

Pysyk and Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov each played against his former team for the first time since they were traded for one another June 25 at the 2016 NHL Draft.

"It's the first game I'm really disappointed," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "I thought we played well all season long. Tonight we didn't play well enough; we weren't even close to winning that hockey game. So it was disappointing."

Goal of the game

Larsson's goal was the game-winner and the quick wrist shot appeared to surprise Luongo.

Video: FLA@BUF: Larsson goes top shelf on Luongo

Save of the game

With 10:50 to play in the second period and the Sabres ahead 2-0, Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault took a slap shot from inside the blue line that Nilsson stopped with his left leg. Nilsson lay on his back to made sure the puck didn't get away.


Highlight of the game

With 45 seconds left in the second period, Kulikov took out Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie with a well-timed hip check when MacKenzie skated toward the Buffalo net, nullifying a potential scoring chance.

Video: FLA@BUF: Kulikov lays out MacKenzie with a hip check

Unsung moment of the game

After Gionta took a delay of game penalty with 5:16 remaining. Nilsson made saves against Jared McCann and Keith Yandle and the Sabres held the Panthers to four total shot attempts. Florida went 0-for-4 on the power play.

They said it

"Yeah, you know, everyone was, 'Really?' and we were really mad when [Trocheck] had the penalty shot. [Nilsson] was really patient so it was nice to see. He's always working hard in practice so it was really nice to see him get the win." -- Sabres forward Johan Larsson


"To end a road trip, you've got to salvage from points here. We got to be ready against a good team [at the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday]. We just got to get back and focus on our game and the way [Gallant] wants us to play." -- Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle

Video: FLA@BUF: Nilsson continues his hopes of shutout win

Need to know

Okposo's goal was his first ever scored at KeyBank Center. … The Sabres went 2-for-4 on the power play and have eight power-play goals this season. … Sabres forward Nicolas Deslauriers left the game with a minute to play in the third period with a lower-body injury and Bylsma said he was being evaluated and may not make the trip to play the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. … Steven Kampfer and Shawn Thornton each played his first game of the season in place of Mike Matheson and Kyle Rau.

What's next

Panthers: At the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; FS-D+, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Sabres: At the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; TSN3, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Sabres blank Panthers in 3-0 win

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