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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 3, Sabres 2 (SO)

Cats connect on two straight, Theodore comes up big and Kulikov nets winner as team wins elusive fourth straight win.

Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 11:29 PM ET / Wrap Up
By Glenn Odebralski  -
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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 3, Sabres 2 (SO)
3-2 (SO)
1 2 3 OT SO T
Panthers 2 0 0 0 2-7 3
Sabres 1 1 0 0 1-7 2
FLA - PP - M. Samuelsson (11), J. Madden (2), SO - D. Kulikov
BUF - T. Ennis (11), PP - D. Roy (15)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Dmitry Kulikov returned from a knee injury and scored the winning shootout goal as the Florida Panthers beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday night.

John Madden and Mikael Samuelsson scored in regulation for the Panthers. Jose Theodore made 24 saves.

"I think sometimes in the shootout, he was a little deep in the batting order but you know what, sometimes you're looking for a little swagger and Kuli is a cool cat sometimes. Not a whole lot ruffles him. "

- Head coach Kevin Dineen on Dmitry Kulikov's shootout goal
1. Make Them Count: Sometimes in a game, it will take a lot of shots to get on the scoreboard. That wasn't the case Saturday night as the teams combined to score on their first three shots of the game. It was Buffalo getting on the board first just 1:15 in as Tyler Ennis scored on the rush to give the visitors the lead. For Florida, it was much more of a snails pace in getting their first shot on Ryan Miller. The Panthers didn't get their first official shot on net until 17:15 of the period but they made it count as Mikael Samuelsson slammed home a shot off the feed from Tomas Fleischmann with the Cats on the power play to knot the score. The Panthers then took the lead on their next shot as John Madden ripped a shot top shelf on the rush 38 seconds later. Florida held a 2-1 lead after one period of play despite being outshot 10-4.

2. Sticking Up For Teammate Costs: You want to see your teammates stick up for you after a big or dirty hit. It shows that they care for each other. The Panthers have done that all season, and especially recently with Shawn Matthias sticking up for Keaton Ellerby after a hit against Toronto. Matthias did that again after Tomas Kopecky was hit in the open ice by Mike Weber but this time it was costly. Dropping the gloves with the Sabres defenseman, Matthias was issued an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct giving Buffalo a power play 9:16 into the second period. They would cash in on that power play 25 seconds in as Derek Roy knocked home a rebound past Jose Theodore to knot the score at two.

3. A Win Is A Win Is A Win: When you look back at this game, the only thing that you should remember is that the Panthers pulled out a victory. In large part to the play of Theodore. Florida's offense mustered just four shots on net in the first (two goals), 12 in the second and then one in the third before posting none in overtime but Theodore was strong once again and because of him, the Panthers gained another huge two points in the standings (83 points). The Panthers and Sabres combined for five shots in the third period and then neither netminder had to make a save in the five minutes of overtime as the teams couldn't find their placements on shots. Buffalo had a better record in the shootout heading into the game (7-5 compared to 4-8) but the way Theodore was playing, it was Florida's turn to win a game. Wojtek Wolski scored in the second round for the Panthers to give them a shortlived advantage as Tyler Ennis answered on the very next shot. Heading to a sudden death shootout, it took the seventh Panthers shooter, Dmitry Kulikov, to find the back of the net as the defenseman scored the decisive goal on a deke and a backhand top shelf on Miller. Theodore made the save on Drew Stafford and the Panthers did something they haven't done since March of 2008; win four games straight. Hard to believe that's the case but the Panthers did that by sweeping their four-game homestand, moving five points up on second place Washington for the division.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@puckmaster35: #FlaPanthers win!!! 4 straight games and a 5 point lead on Washington in the division!!! Only 11 games left to the end of the regular season

@brianfein: HUGE #FlaPanthers WIN tonight! 4th straight win, and swept the home stand? Yes, please! Up next: Philly... #WeSeeRed

@MetsPanthersFan: Another sweet ride home after the 7 shot shoot out win by our #flapanthers. #nonailsleft

@altereg0: with all the new players brought in - Coach Dineen has been the biggest addition - #FlaPanthers #DineenForJackAdams

@davidbub_2: #FlaPanthers Kulikov = clutch! Jose Theodore once again plays insane!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Matthew Bodner: SO SICK!! s/o to all the loyal fans who were there with me to see the perfect 2 for 2 shooting to open the game and the 7 (8?) rounds to end it :D GO CATS!! MARCH TO THE PLAYOFFF

Stuart Leslie Weisbrot: There is one word I can say about tonights game: JOSE, JOSE, JOSE !!!!!!!!!!! We didn't play our best, but we found a way to win! Good teams have done that to us over the last few years.......... Now we are one of the Good Teams !!!

Liam O'Neill: At one point in the game, I thought we had absolutely no chance with this game, but I remembered that I was watching the new Panthers.

Joanne Ruimy: Intense game in a weird way Theodore unstoppable tonight !

Mary Ellen Wasung Gray: Yeah! 4 game win streak! 1st time in 4 yrs. Go Cats!


1. It took the Panthers more than 17 minutes to record their first goal of the game but when they did, they made it count. Mikael Samuelsson beat Ryan Miller with a bullet with 2:45 left on the clock for a power play goal. Buffalo, ironically also scored on their first shot of the game as Tyler Ennis scored 1:15 into the contest.

2. Scoring once was not enough for the Cats. Florida scored on consecutive shots as John Madden netted his second of the season 38 seconds later, ripping a shot past Miller.

4. Entering the four-game homestand this week, the Panthers had won three games in a row on four different occasions and for some odd reason had failed to connect on a four-game win streak since the end of the 2007-08 season. That all changed this week as the Panthers won the first three and then earned the shootout victory for their elusive fourth straight win.

5. Definitely not a good number as that was the shot total the two teams combined for for the final 25 minutes of regulation and overtime. Florida was credited with just one shot on net in the third period while Buffalo had four shots. The two teams were without a shot in the five minute overtime period.

7. Leave it to number 7 on the Panthers to connect on the winner. Tabbed as the Cats seventh shooter in the one-on-one session, Kulikov connected on his second shootout goal of the season (three attempts) and first game-winner. Kulikov had missed the previous 23 games with a knee injury.

Jose Theodore
With Buffalo pressuring on numerous occasions, came up with big save after big save in stopping 24 of 26 shots. Was also huge in the shootout in stopping all but one shot as it went seven rounds. He was credited with four saves in the one-on-one session (two misses).

26 Shots, 24 Saves, .923 SV%
The Panthers will have two days until their next game. Then they hit the road for two in two games. First up is the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. The Flyers are currently fifth in the East with 90 points (41-22-8) after falling to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon 3-2 in a shootout. Florida will look for their first victory of the season series (0-2-1) and revenge their latest loss, a 5-0 shutout in Philadelphia on March 8th. The Broad Street Bullies are led offensively by Claude Giroux (82 points in 67 games) and Scott Hartnell (62 points in 71 games). In goal, Ilya Bryzgalov has seen most of the action, posting a 29-13-7 record with a .910 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |




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