by Brian Wheeler
The Buffalo Sabres' wild ride on the road came to an end in the Sunshine State. With three goals in the second period, the Florida Panthers finished Buffalo's nine-game road winning streak and overall seven-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night in the BankAtlantic Center.
"I'm definitely disappointed but you have to take a look at the big picture," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff. "We found a way to win a lot of games."
The loss was almost two months in the making as Buffalo hadn't suffered a defeat during regulation on the road since being beaten by the Ottawa Senators 6-1 on November 11.
"Our execution tonight wasn't very good," said Ruff. "Our special teams gave up a shorthanded goal and we didn't get much momentum off our power play which really changed the flow of the game."
The Sabres fell one game short of tying the NHL record for most consecutive road wins which was set by Buffalo during the 1983-84 season and Martin Biron's string of 13 consecutive victories when starting in goal also came to an abrupt end. Biron allowed four goals on 30 shots as he suffers his fifth loss of the season.
Maxim Afinogenov extended his scoring streak to three games with an assist on Thomas Vanek
's goal in the third period.
Both Biron and Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo stood strong in the first period, stopping a combined 19 shots as Florida outshot Buffalo 10-9 in the first.
Florida jumped out to a 2-0 lead three minutes into the second after capitalizing on a concluding power play and a Sabres miscue.
Just as Tim Connolly's tripping penalty from the first period expired, Joe Nieuwendyk fed Jozef Stumpel on a two-on-one with an across-ice pass for the lead and Stumpel's third of the season. Toni Lydman had left the crease to play the puck along the boards, leaving Jay McKee alone to defend against the two Panthers.
Less than two minutes later, Rotislav Olesz muscled his way to the front of the net, collects Olli Jokinen's rebound and shovels the puck past Biron. The Sabres goaltender turned the puck over in Buffalo's zone leading to the marker after trying to fire a pass along the boards instead of leaving the puck behind the net.
The Florida onslaught continued midway thru the second as a bouncing puck couldn't be controlled by Jason Pominville
, springing Stumpel on a breakaway. At the left face-off circle, Stumpel snapped a wristshot over Biron's glove for his second of the game, fourth of the season and just the third shorthanded goal for Florida.
Vanek made the score 3-1 redirecting Brian Campbell's slapshot from the right point on the power play with less than four minutes remaining in the second.
Olli Jokinen extended Florida's lead to three with a one-timer on the power play from the right point with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
-------------------------------- SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG:
No Scoring Period 2
0-1 (1:27): Just as Buffalo is coming off a penalty, Joe Nieuwendyk finds Jozef Stumpel on a two-on-one for the first goal of the game. Nieuwendyk slide the puck from the left wing underneath Jay McKee's stick. The goal is Stumpel's third of the season. Rotislav Olesz gets the secondary assist.
0-2 (3:17): Less than two minutes later, Rotislav Olesz collects Olli Jokinen's rebound in front of Martin Biron and shovels the puck across the goal line. The goal is Olesz's fifth of the season. Jokinen and Jozef Stumpel record the assists.
0-3 (11:56): A bouncing puck that Jason Pominville
could not control at the blueline is collected by Josef Stumpel, who snaps a wristshot over the glove of Biron for a shorthanded goal. The tally is the second of the night for Stumpel, his fourth of the season and just the third shorthanded goal for Florida. Lukas Krajicek records the assist.
1-3 (16:49): Brian Campbell fires a shot from the right point that is tipped by Thomas Vanek
. The goal is Vanek's eighth of the season and fourth on the power play. Campbell and Maxim Afinogenov gets the helpers. Period 3
1-4 (15:38): On a two-man advantage, Olli Jokinen one-times a shot from the left point that beats Martin Biron low. The goal is Jokinen's 14th of the season. Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton record the assists.
Quotes courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.