Linus throws blanket on Panthers in 3-2 Sabres win

Buffalo's rookie goalie stymies Cats with stellar 36-save effort.

Rookie goaltender Linus Ullmark led the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 over the Florida Panthers Thursday night at the BB&T Center. The win vaulted the Sabres past both the Cats and the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings.

The 22-year-old, appearing in just his sixth NHL game, finished with 36 saves to raise his record to 4-2.

Buffalo captain Brian Gionta scored with 32 seconds left in the first period to stake the visitors to the lead. Gionta fired a wrist shot by Roberto Luongo after taking a pass in the circle from Matt Moulson. Rasmus Ristolainen picked up the second assist on the veteran's first of the 2015-16 campaign.

Florida had two power play opportunities earlier in the opening frame, but failed to take advantage.

The Sabres appeared to score again in the early stages of the second period, but Gerard Gallant used his challenge to get the goal taken off the board. Video review showed Buffalo was a hair offsides on the play.

Jonathan Huberdeau notched a power-play goal at 9:35 to get the Panthers on the board. Ullmark denied a Jaromir Jagr shot, but Nick Bjugstad was able to shovel the rebound back in front to an open Huberdeau, who finally dented the twine for his first of the season.

Buffalo came up with another late period goal when Cody Franson hammered a one-timer by a screened Luongo at 18:53. Franson was fed by Carlo Colaiacovo, and David Legwand got the secondary assist in a nice display of cycling at the blue line.

The Sabres extended their lead with a power-play tally at 3:38 of the final frame. Rookie Sam Reinhart got the goal, deflecting in a Tyler Ennis shot while right in front of the net. Ristolainen also assisted to get his second point of the night.

Ullmark held the Panthers at bay until Vincent Trocheck came up with his seventh goal of the year with four minutes remaining in regulation. After taking a pass from Jussi Jokinen, Aaron Ekblad let go of a shot from the point and Trocheck was able to tip it up and into the Buffalo cage.

In the final minute of the tilt, the desperate Cats threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Ullmark, but could not come up with the equalizer. The young Swede absolutely robbed Dmitry Kulikov, making the stop with his mask, with 39 seconds left to prevent overtime and give his club its third straight win.

The Panthers ended up out-shooting Buffalo by a 38-19 margin, but once again got bitten by their lack of finishing ability. The Cats (6-7-3) will need more goals in the upcoming home-and-home with Tampa Bay Lightning.

Wings & Things

  • The Sabres evened their record at 8-8 and jumped from seventh to fifth in the Atlantic Division. The fine work done in the offseason by GM Tim Murray is paying quick dividends.
  • The Panthers remained winless when scoring less than three goals this season.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau's goal, which was challenged and upheld, was his first since the 2014-15 season-finale on April 11th versus the New Jersey Devils. Huberdeau has four points in five November games, an encouraging sign for last year's leading scorer.
  • Jussi Jokinen's third period helper gave him the team lead in assists with eight.
  • The Cats held Buffalo rookie sensation Jack Eichel without a shot on goal. Eichel finished the game with two hits and a -1 rating.
  • Dmitry Kulikov led the Panthers with six shots on goal and added two hits in 21:10 TOI. Unfortunately, it was Kulikov's hooking penalty that led to Sam Reinhart's eventual game-winner.
  • Click here for war-on-ice's trusty advanced stats breakdown.
  • Die By The Blade has the other side of the surging Sabres latest win./

Highlights (courtesy of