The Sabres beat Florida on the heels of their hardest working line

Johan Larsson scores and his line has a five-point night

Paul Hamilton
October 11, 2019 - 11:20 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - We’ve been talking all season about how good the Johan Larsson line has been with Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo, and they finally got rewarded on Friday night. That line has spent most of the season in the offensive zone, and has been getting bodies and pucks to the net, but only had gotten one goal to show for it.

That changed in the second period on Friday when Okposo sprung Larsson in alone for his first of the year, and the veteran did it again when Marco Scandella joined the rush.

Okposo and Girgensons combined for four assists in the game and the line had five points combined.

This was a game where Linus Ullmark and Sergei Bobrovsky should’ve been the first two stars of the game. They stood on their heads, but the Sabres don’t do the three stars that way. Very often it’s the best three Sabres.

Ullmark made 41 saves and stopped two more in the shootout. Bobrovsky made 30 saves, and Ralph Krueger revealed that the Panthers goaltender faced the better chances.

Mike Hoffman tied the game with 10.5 seconds left, scoring his fifth goal of the season, but Ullmark stopped him on wide open chances six other times. Hoffman had nine shots on the game.

Another positive sign I took out of this game is Casey Mittelstadt’s line had some good offensive chances for the first time all season. Mittelstadt, along with Jimmy Vesey and Evan Rodrigues, really dug in and got some pucks to the net.

Vesey charged in from the right circle and was stopped. Henri Jokiharju did what he does very well at the end of the first, put Mittelstadt in alone with a perfect stretch pass. Mittelstadt also had a great opportunity in overtime.

He iced the game in the shootout with a beautiful backhand right under the crossbar. In his career, Mittelstadt is 3-for-6 in shootouts.

Jack Eichel also scored in the shootout, while Sam Reinhart was stopped.

Rasmus Dahlin got one shift in overtime after getting benched for the final 8:23 of regulation. The 19-year-old has struggled mightily defensively in the past two games, and he will learn from it. Krueger did say Dahlin’s time will come.

Vesey only got four shifts in the third period, but did take over for Victor Olofsson in the third, as he has in most games.

Mittelstadt played twice in the third period and sat the final 14:03. Olofsson had four shifts in the third and sat the final 12:42. Olofsson had a couple of decent 5-on-5 shifts in this game, but, for the most part, has been invisible 5-on-5.

Rodrigues had just one shift in the third period and sat the final 14:03.

Honestly, I can’t disagree with any of this. Many of these players will be a huge part of the future, but right now they can’t be trusted in one-goal games. The only one I would disagree with is Colin Miller played, but his time was reduced. In my mind, he’s been Buffalo’s best defenseman and needs to be out there in these situations.

Krueger claims that the Sabres out-chanced the Panthers in this game, but Ullmark was making big save after big save. Ullmark did say on the post-game show that he feels he should’ve stopped Hoffman’s game-tying goal. Ullmark said he knows he likes to go high and he should’ve been ready for it.

At 4-0-1, the Sabres are three points ahead of Detroit and Boston in the Atlantic Division, and trail Carolina by one point for the NHL lead.

Buffalo hosts Dallas on Monday afternoon before leaving for three games out west. Monday starts five games in a row against the Western Conference.

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