Evgenii Dadonov scored twice and added an assist, including the eventual game-winning goal on a penalty shot, as the Florida Panthers erupted for three goals in 3:44 span of the third period to post a 5-2 comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.
Keith Yandle provided a spark with the Panthers trailing two to one by tossing Jeff Skinner to the ice after Skinner was thought to have taken liberty with Aleksander Barkov (replays show he didn’t), who briefly left the game, earlier.
Kyle Okposo hooked Yandle soon after he came out of the box late in the second period and the Cats cashed in on the ensuing power play when Yandle fired a wrister off Barkov’s... cup and into the back of the 58 seconds into the final frame. Jonathan Huberdeau picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
Dadonov converted a penalty shot 2:32 later after he was hauled down on a breakaway by rookie Rasmus Dahlin. The speedy Russian went forehand on Carter Hutton, who appeared to have made the stop, but the puck slowly leaked through the goaltender’s pads and over the goal line.
Florida added to its lead 1:42 after that to take command of the tilt. Dadonov claimed the puck after a faceoff win by Henrik Borgstrom, whipped around the net and fired a shot on goal that Hutton denied, only to have Frank Vatrano pop the rebound home on the backhand. The helper was the first of Borgstrom’s young NHL career.
Dadonov sealed the win with empty-net goal from center ice with 2:30 remaining in the game with the lone assist going to Captain Barkov.
The Sabres scored the only goal of the first period when Jeff Skinner got a step on Huberdeau to take a pass from Jack Eichel and beat Roberto Luongo from in tight.
Troy Brouwer knocked the rebound of Jared McCann’s miss off the back boards past Hutton to tie the game 9:17 into second, completing a 3-on-1 break in positive fashion. Mike Matheson picked up the second assist on Brouwer’s seventh.
Buffalo regained the lead 2:01 later when Rasmus Ristolainen skated by Aaron Ekblad and snuck a shot past Luongo on the short side. The play started after Skinner won an offensive draw back to Sam Reinhart, who collect his second helper of the night.
Coming into the game, the Cats had previously been outscored 42-23 in the third period, the worst margin in the league, so it was nice to see them flip the script and exorcise the demons, even if was just for a night. Despite the softy he gave up to Ristolainen, Luongo delivered a very strong performance, finishing with 30 saves, including a handful of dandies to keep his club within striking distance in the early and mid stages of the game. So... back to back wins over the second and sixth best teams in the NHL? Maybe, just maybe, things are taking a turn for the better.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)