Recap: Tkachuk makes an impact in Panthers 4-3 victory over Sabres

Power forward pots a goal and an assist; Knight stops 24 shots

The Florida Panthers nipped the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in a back and forth matinée affair from KeyBank Center to remain undefeated under new head coach Paul Maurice.

Matthew Tkachuk scored Florida’s second goal and combined with Aleksander Barkov to set up Brandon Montour’s eventual game-winner with 2:15 left in the second period.

After Alex Tuch opened the scoring by taking advantage of Marc Staal’s ill-timed tumble to the ice, Colin White evened it up from Eetu Luostarinen and Anton Lundell with 5:57 remaining in the first. White hammered Lupstarinen’s pass past new Buffalo keeper Eric Comrie.

Tkachuk put the Cats ahead 4:06 later when he tapped in the rebound of a screamer from Gustav Forsling that was too hot for Comrie to handle.

The Sabres tied the score with nine seconds to go in the opening frame when Zemgus Girgensons sniped Spencer Knight after taking a drop pass from JJ Peterka. Staal was too slow to react and take away space in the middle of the ice from Girgensons.

Florida forged ahead 2:31 into the second with Rasmus Dahlin off for cross-checking Carter Verhaeghe. Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart burst over the Sabres line and the captain tried to slip the puck back to his winger. The pass was off the mark, but Aaron Ekblad collected it and after shifting to his forehand, was able to beat Comrie from just above the left circle for the club’s first power-play goal of the young season.

The Sabres tried to answer quickly, however, Knight would come up with a stunning glove save on a wide-open Jeff Skinner to keep the Cats ahead.

The Panthers tacked on another power-play goal at the 17:45 mark. After taking the puck from Barkov, Tkachuk drove towards the net before throwing it into the low slot. Montour found it loose in a pack of Sabres and was able to pop it home to make it a two-goal lead.

Buffalo would come up with another late-period goal to halve the deficit. Dahlin took a nice feed from Tuch and snapped a shot by Knight before Gudas could get there to block it.

That was it for the scoring as the Cats limited the Sabres to a paltry five shots in the third while Comrie would make sevn saves to keep Florida from adding on.

The Panthers looked much more dangerous offensively than they did on opening night in Elmont, racking up 37 shots on goal and converting twice on the power play. Florida’s penalty kill came up big, going a perfect 4 for 4. The defensive pair of Staal and Gudas was on the ice for all three Buffalo goals and is a cause for early concern. Los Gatos will finish off the season-opening three-game road trip on Monday night against the Boston Bruins, who also boast a 2-0 record.

Wings & Things

  • Matthew Tkachuk became the sixth player in Panthers history to light the lamp in each of his first two games with the club.
  • Colin White’s first goal as a Panther was his 100th career NHL point. White has points in both games this season. More Bill Zito sorcercy?
  • Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres. Dahlin logged a game-high 25:49 of ice time and became the third defenseman in Sabres history to score in each of their first two games, joining former Cat Jaroslav Spacek (2007-08) and Jim Schoenfeld (1979-80).
  • In addition to stopping 33 shots, Eric Comrie picked up the secondary assist on Tuch’s game-opening goal, becoming the first goaltender to get an assist in his Sabres debut.
  • Spencer Knight made 24 saves to collect his first win of the campaign. Knight’s robbery of Jeff Skinner will get much play on NHL highlihght reels. What a save! Skinner led all skaters with six shots on goal.
  • Strong game for Aaron Ekblad who scored a goal, played a team-high 25:16, had a team-high five shots, was credited with two hits, and blocked a shot.
  • The Panthers are undefeated and the Sabres fell to .500. Read more about it at Die By The Blade./