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5 Takeaways: Hoffman's Late Goal Helps Panthers Get Point in Buffalo

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

10/11/19 Post Game Interviews

10/11/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Mike Hoffman and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

  • 00:55 •

The Florida Panthers are starting off their three-game road trip with a point.

In a matchup between two goaltenders on top of their game, Mike Hoffman scored with just over 10 seconds left in regulation to help the Panthers force overtime and secure an eventual point in the standings with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday night.

"It was a good battling back effort," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.

Even though Sergei Bobrovsky was standing on his head in net, the Sabres broke the ice late in the second period on a goal from Johan Larsson that made it 1-0 at 19:29. That lead doubled in the third period, when Marco Scandella tickled twine to extend Buffalo's advantage to 2-0 at 2:02. Bobrovsky made 30 saves on 32 shots, with several highlight-reel stops sprinkled in.

"It was a huge point for us," Bobrovsky said. "Obviously we need to clean up some things, but I thought the guys stepped up in the second period and showed their character to get back in the game. Unfortunately we don't have two points, but one point is important for us."

After Scandella's goal, the Panthers seemed to be in control for the remainder of the period.

In a 2-0 hole, Evgenii Dadonov started the comeback when he cut into the deficit with a goal at 6:15 to make it 2-1. Then, with Bobrovsky on the bench and just 10.9 seconds left on the clock, Hoffman wired a puck over Linus Ullmark's left shoulder to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime.

Florida outshot Buffalo 19-4 over the final 20 minutes of regulation.

"I think we started playing a little more desperate," Hoffman said of the team's late surge. "I think we started to play the way we intend to the whole game. We were getting pucks on net, starting to hold onto pucks and making plays. We've just got to do that for a full 60 minutes."

Following a scoreless overtime in which both teams had more than a few scoring chances, the game went to a shootout, where the Sabres scored twice to win 3-2 and capture the extra point.

Ullmark finished with 41 saves on 43 shots.

"We had a good third period. I thought we had a good first as well," Quenneville said. "In the second, they had the puck more than us… There was a lot more quality in that game than the score indicated."

Here are five takeaways from Friday's shootout loss in Buffalo…

1. BOB-ROB-SKY

The first period belonged to Bobrovsky.

The two-time Vezina Trophy winner made 13 saves in the opening 20 minutes of action tonight, including three stops on shots fired from high-danger areas, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The biggest of those high-danger saves came just past the five-minute mark of the period, when speedy forward Casey Mittelstadt snuck behind Florida's defense on a breakaway before having his forehand shot turned away by Bobrovsky right on the doorstep to keep the game scoreless.

Video: FLA@BUF: Bobrovsky denies Mittelstadt on the break

During the first intermission, defenseman Mike Matheson said those saves sparked the team.

"Obviously Bob made a lot of nice saves," he said. "That's something to build momentum off of."

In the second and third period, Bobrovsky continued to look dominant despite allowing a pair of goals. He stopped 13 of 15 shots over the final two periods of regulation and then four more in the extra frame, including one during an incredible sequence in which he'd lost his goalie stick.

With that spectacular, paddle-free stop, he ended up a perfect 6-for-6 on high-danger saves.

"The points are so important," Bobrovsky said. "You're fighting all those small moments. You ty to win them -- the little shifts, the little shots."

2. GOOD NIGHT ON THE KILL

Florida's penalty kill is starting to settle into a groove.

Entering tonight's game with the second-ranked power play in the league at 53.3 percent, the Sabres couldn't get anything going on the man advantage against the Panthers, who killed off all four of Buffalo's opportunities with the extra attacker while allowing just three shots on goal.

Helping Bobrovsky out, five of Florida's 14 blocked shots came while shorthanded.

"The guys were great," Bobrovsky said of the entire team's effort in all areas of the game tonight. "They stepped up at the right time. That's huge character. Those kinds of things bring the team together. There's team spirit and more trust from each other. It's a big point for us."

The Panthers currently rank 13th in the NHL on the penalty kill at 81.8 percent.

3. DADONOV LIGHTS THE FIRE

Dadonov has now lit the lamp in back-to-back games.

After starting the game on the third line, the 30-year-old winger was bumped back up to the top line to start the third period. The move paid off almost right away, as Dadonov collected a nifty lead pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and beat Ullmark to make it 2-1 at 6:15 of the final frame.

Video: FLA@BUF: Dadonov beats Ullmark on the rush

Huberdeau leads the Panthers with four assists through four games.

In the midst of his third season with the Panthers after a five-year stint in the KHL, Dadonov set career-highs in both assists (42) and points (70) in 2018-19, while also scoring 28 goals for the second straight season. Through four games this season, he's tallied a pair of goals and assist.

When Dadonov was on the ice in all situations tonight, Florida led Buffalo 24-8 in shot attempts.

4. HOFF-MANIA RUNS WILD

Is Hoffman human? At this point I'm starting to get skeptical.

With the Panthers trailing 2-1 and on a 6-on-5 advantage with the goaltender pulled, Hoffman took a pass from Dadonov, settled it down, and roofed a wrist shot to make it a 2-2 game with 10.9 seconds left on the clock to force overtime and make sure the team got at least one point. 

Video: FLA@BUF: Hoffman nets wrist shot for late equalizer

"We had a lot of opportunities just trying to get pucks to the net with traffic," Hoffman said of his game-tying goal. "Things like that sometimes happen, you create some open ice. Daddy made a great pass over to me there. The puck was bobbling for a little bit, so I just had to settle it down and pick my spot."

After scoring a team-leading 36 goals last season, Hoffman is off to yet another hot start with the Panthers. Through four games, he leads the team in scoring with seven points, including five goals - which is currently holding up as the fourth-most goals in the league at the moment.

Never afraid to shoot the puck, Hoffman also registered a game-high nine shots on goal tonight.

"Hoffer's on fire with his shot," Quenneville said. "He had some good looks tonight as well."

5. BACK AT IT TOMORROW

There's no time for a breather.

Following tonight's contest, the Panthers will board a flight to Long Island to complete their first back-to-back set of the season with a game against the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

The Islanders, who have lost two in a row and currently sit at 1-3-0 on the season, will also be playing on short rest after suffering a 5-2 loss on the road to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.

"We'll look at the film, see where we've got to get better and hopefully come back tomorrow stronger," Hoffman said.

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