Sam Reinhart scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal and set up another and Linus Ullmark stopped 32 shots as the Buffalo Sabres held on to beat the Florida Panthers by a 3-2 count at KeyBank Center.
Reinhart sent Sergei Bobrovsky to the bench when he scored a power-play goal 5:42 into the second period. His one-timer from the left circle was set up by Rasmus Dahlin and Marcus Johannson and gave the Sabres a three-goal lead.
Henri Jokiharju opened the scoring 12:49 into the first, capping off a pretty passing play involving Reinhart and Jack Eichel with a wrist shot into the top corner and Conor Sheary, from Johannson and Jimmy Vesey, scored the other Buffalo goals.
Chris Driedger turned aside all 11 shots he faced in relief to give the Panthers a chance at a comeback.
Mike Matheson finally solved Ullmark when his shot from just above the left circle eluded the screened keeper with 7:20 remaining in the game. Colton Sceviour drew the lone assist on Matheson’s fourth.
With an extra attacker on, Evgenii Dadonov pulled Florida within a goal by collecting the rebound of Mike Hoffman’s shot off Ullmark’s leg pad and putting it home at the 18:50 mark, second assist to Aleksander Barkov, but the Sabres were able to close out the Cats for a third straight time this season.
Florida played a pretty decent roadie, limiting Buffalo to just 18 shots on goal, but were doomed by a lack of goals, a powerless power play (0-3) and a lack of big saves from Bobrovsky, who only stopped 4 of the 7 shots he faced. You can’t really single out Bob for any of the goals, but they aren’t paying him the big bucks to play bench warmer to Driedger. It’s hard to imagine the Cats making the postseason if the goaltender doesn’t revert to the form that made him such a highly-attractive free agent target.
The Panthers will need to beat Pittsburgh tomorrow at PPG Paints Arena to salvage the four-game road trip at .500 and keep pace in the group of death that is the top-six of the Atlantic Division.
Wings and Things
- Evgenii Dadonov’s goal was his 17th of the season, tying him with Jonathan Huberdeau for the team lead in that category.
- Buffalo came into the game on an 0-for-16 skid on the power play before Sam Reinhart ended the long drought in the middle frame.
- Speaking of ends, Linus Ullmark had a shutout streak of 105:40 snappped by Mike Matheson’s wrister.
- Jack Eichel finished the game with a team-high five shots on goal and extended his point streak to four games with his first period assist.
- Mike Hoffman, Keith Yandle and Dadonov matched Eichel’s output with five shots on goal.
- For more on Buffalo’s latest win over Florida, visit Die By The Blade.