NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
Florida 1 1 2 4
Buffalo 0 0 1 1
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 16, 2023
KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York  Attendance: 15,251

Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers visit high-scoring Sabres

Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres

  1. The Panthers have won their last five games against the Sabres: all four meetings last season and a 4-3 win in their lone matchup this season (Oct. 15 in Buffalo). Florida's only longer winning streak against the Sabres was a run of seven straight wins from April 2017 to October 2018.
  2. Florida has scored five power-play goals in eight opportunities over its last three games (62.5 percent). That is the most power-play goals the Panthers have scored in a three-game span this season.
  3. Aaron Ekblad had one goal and one assist in the Panthers' 4-3 win against the Canucks on Saturday. It was only the fourth multi-point game for Ekblad in 33 games this season. Ekblad had 16 multi-point games last season, tied for seventh most among NHL defensemen, despite playing only 61 games.
  4. The Sabres have allowed at least three goals in each of their last nine games but they have a winning record over that stretch (5-4-0). Buffalo had a 3-10-0 record while allowing three or more goals in each of 13 consecutive games earlier this season (Oct. 25-Nov.19).
  5. Tage Thompson's current four-game goal drought matches his season high, set Oct. 20-27. Thompson scored 30 goals in 30 games between those two four-game goalless streaks.
  6. Rookie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has won all five games in which he faced 40 or more shots on goal this season, including his 5-3 win at Nashville on Saturday. No other rookie goalie in Sabres history had more than three such wins in one season.

Matthew Tkachuk will look to extend his six-game point streak on Monday afternoon when his Florida Panthers visit the Buffalo Sabres.

Tkachuk leads the Panthers in goals (22) and assists (31). He has five goals and five assists in his past six games.

The Panthers, 4-2-0 in their past six games, are also fueled offensively by other top goal-scorers Carter Verhaeghe (19), ex-Sabres star Sam Reinhart (13) and captain Aleksander Barkov (11).

But Florida's fourth line got a boost last month when the Panthers acquired Givani Smith in a trade with Detroit. Smith and linemates Ryan Lomberg and Colin White worked hard to create Florida's first goal on Saturday night as the Panthers defeated Vancouver, 4-3.

Lomberg scored that goal and Smith earned the primary assist with a deflection.

Smith, a Toronto native who turns 25 next month, has no goals but two assists in seven games with the Panthers.

"It lifts my confidence to be a part of a team with such high-end skill," Smith said.

Defensively, Florida is led by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (11-13-1), who got the win over Vancouver on Saturday despite allowing three soft goals.

"Sometimes it's the traffic," said Bobrovsky, who has a 3.27 goals-against average. "If you can't see the puck, you can't stop the puck."

Panthers coach Paul Maurice used the word "knucklers" to describe the shots that beat Bobrovsky.

"I've never seen a guy play as well as he did from 10 feet in and yet miss three from (50-plus feet)."

On Monday, the Panthers are set to face the highest-scoring team in the NHL in the Sabres (3.85 goals per game).

Conversely, the Panthers -- who lead the league in shots on goal -- rank just 13th in scoring (3.25).

The Sabres are led by their two young stars: center Tage Thompson, 25, and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, 22.

Thompson tops Buffalo in goals (31) and points (58). He scored a career-high 38 goals last season.

Dahlin, a first-team All-Star last season, can take over games. The NHL's first overall pick in 2018, Dahlin has a team-high 35 assists and 48 points -- five off his career high.

Alex Tuch has 45 points in 41 games, tying his career high with 20 goals.

The Sabres also have some key veterans in captain Kyle Okposo and fellow forward Jeff Skinner. Both scored goals in Buffalo's 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, and Okposo earned special praise from Sabres coach Don Granato.

"He's a leader by virtue," Granato said of Okposo, who has seven goals this season. "He's a worker."

Skinner has scored 18 times and is on pace for his sixth NHL season with at least 30 goals.

Still, the Sabres -- who have the longest playoff drought in NHL history at 11 seasons -- are banking on their young players such as defenseman Owen Power, 20. Power, the NHL's first overall pick in 2021, has 15 assists in 38 games.

Dylan Cozens, Buffalo's first-round pick (seventh overall) in 2019, has already set his career highs in goals (14) and assists (26). Rookies Jack Quinn and John-Jason Peterka -- both 21 -- have seven goals apiece. And goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, 23, leads Buffalo in wins (10-4-1) in his first full NHL season. A tall (6-5) and confident goalie, Luukkonen has a 3.50 GAA.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 15, 2023

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