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Florida Panthers Vs. Buffalo Sabres: Game 29 Preview

The Florida Panthers put their three game winning streak on the line against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagra Center tonight at 7:30 P.M.

The Florida Panthers will be visiting the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagra Center in Buffalo on Friday night. It is the third of four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals, and the second of two in Buffalo. Florida is 10-6-0 on the road, tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for most road wins in the NHL. The Sabres are 6-8-2 at home. Florida will be playing the second game of a three game road trip. They shut out the Boston Bruins, 2-0 on Thursday night and visit the New York Rangers on Sunday night. The Sabres are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Flyers on Wednesday night and will be playing in the second game of a five game homestand. They go on to host the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

The teams last met on October 29th in Buffalo, with the Panthers walking away with a 3-2 victory. Both teams had a 6-4-0 record after the matchup. Tomas Vanek and Jason Pominville posted the goals for the Sabres while Marcel Goc, Jason Garrison and Tomas Fleischmann netted the Panthers scores. Jose Theodore stopped 24 of 26 shots in the win for Florida.


Panthers @ Sabres 10/29/11 (via NHLVideo)

In Florida's last game, the Panthers shut out the Boston Bruins, 2-0 on Thursday night. Jose Theodore posted his second shutout of the season, making 40 saves and bringing his record to 11-5-3. Tomas Kopecky scored his fourth goal of the season with two minutes remaining for the game winner with assists by Shawn Matthias and Dmitry Kulikov. Kris Versteeg added an empty netter for his 13th goal of the season with assists from Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell.

Theodore, Panthers Blank Bruins, 2-0 (via ESPN)

The Sabres suffered an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-4 in Buffalo. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 34 shots in the loss. Zack Kassian, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek scored goals for Buffalo.

Flyers @ Sabres 12/07/11 (via NHLVideo)

Season Series: 1-1-0


All-Time Series: 25-37-8

Game Time: 7:30 EST


Florida Panthers: 16-8-4, 36 points, first SE Division, second Eastern Conference, fourth NHL, on pace for 105 points

Buffalo Sabres: 14-11-2, 30 points, third NE Division, seventh Eastern Conference, 14th NHL, on pace for 91 points


Forwards Matt Bradley, Scottie Upshall, Marc Cullen and Marcel Goc are all out. Florida has Evgeni Dadonov and Tim Kennedy on the active roster to combat injury issues. They also picked up forward Krys Barch in a trade with the Dallas Stars.

Probable Starters


Scott Clemmensen (3-0-0) may get another start as Theodore earned his paycheck with a 40 save shutout last night. Jhonas Enroth (8-5-1) may start for Buffalo.


1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Bergenheim - Matthias - Kopecky

3. Sturm - Santorelli - Skille

4. Barch - Kennedy - Samuelsson


1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Jovanovski - Gudbranson

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Common Thread:

Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold played 61 games for the Panthers in 2009-10, scoring seven goals and 11 assists with a minus-seven rating and 22 penalty minutes.

Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell played in 391 games over eight seasons for the Sabres, scoring 32 goals and 144 assists with a minus-seven rating and 113 penalty minutes.

Panthers forward Tim Kennedy played in 79 games over two seasons for the Sabres, scoring 10 goals and 16 assists with a minus-three rating and 50 penalty minutes.

Team Milestones:

Ed Jovanovski will play in his 281st game as a Panther tonight, moving him into a tie with Jody Hull in 20th place. His next goal will be his 32nd, which will move him into a tie for 32nd with Richard Zednik. His next assist will give him 58 with the Panthers, tying him with Paul Laus, in 30th.

Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 25 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Mike Van Ryn in 44th place all-time. 

Shawn Matthias' next goal will give him 21, moving him into a tie for 47th with Brett McLean.

Dmitry Kulikov will play in his 168th Panthers game tonight, passing Brad Ference into 46th on the all-time list. His next assist will give him 51 for his career, moving him past Niklas Hagman into 38th place.  One more point for Kulikov will give him 63, moving him past Dave Gagner into 47th place.

Stephen Weiss is third all-time with 227 assists, two more move him into a tie for second with Robert Svehla.

Team Leaders:


Kris Versteeg - 13

Tomas Fleischmann - 12

Stephen Weiss -11


Brian Campbell -22

Stephen Weiss - 18

Dmitry Kulikov, Tomas Fleischmann - 17


Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann - 29


Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - plus-16

Kris Versteeg  - plus-15

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.