Jason Pominville scored at 2:19 of overtime, and Ryan Miller finished with 22 saves to lift the Sabres to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
With both teams waiting for the other to make a mistake, it was the Sabres who eventually broke through to find a way to get a rare win at home.
Pominville’s 10th goal of the season enabled Buffalo to earn only its second win in the past eight games on home ice.
”It wasn’t a pretty one, but we got it done against a team that was going really well,” Pominville said. ”We talked about trying not to hand them opportunities by giving pucks away, and we were better with the puck. You want to generate more, but at the same time I thought we stuck with it.”
Pominville’s winner originated with a nifty pass from winger Paul Szczechura, who sprung Pominville on a breakaway that started right at the Florida blue line along the right boards. Pominville skated into the slot before sending a wrist shot past Scott Clemmensen.
”I had a lot of time to put it away, and was able to find a hole,” Pominville said.
In a game that featured plenty of mundane plays with the puck, the Sabres were content on playing the chess match with a Florida team that was coming off a hard-earned win over Boston on Thursday.
”It probably wasn’t the most exciting game for the fans, but I’m glad we stuck with our system,” Miller said. ”We had a tired team that was going to try and trap us, and I thought we did a good job of eliminating odd-man rushes and turnovers. Sometimes that’s how you have to do it.”
Derek Roy also scored for the Sabres (15-11-2), who won for just the third time in their past nine games (3-4-2).
Jason Garrison scored a power-play goal, and Clemmensen finished with 18 saves for the Panthers (16-8-5), who failed to win their fourth straight for the first time since March 2008.
Florida also missed an opportunity to climb over idle Philadelphia and into the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers and Panthers both have 37 points, but Philadelphia has played two fewer games.
”It was disappointing we lost, but the disappointment we feel is positive,” said Clemmensen, who was making his third start in the past four games.
”We had won three games in a row so it was a good point. You knew it was the type of game that one little thing was going to make a big difference.”
The Panthers were able to stay in the game in the first period by killing off three penalties, and erased all five of Buffalo’s man-advantage opportunities overall.
”The players are taking a lot of pride on the defensive side of things,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said.
Down by a goal after 20 minutes, the Panthers tied it at 1 on Garrison’s ninth of the season. From the top of the left circle, he one-timed Tomas Fleischmann’s pass from behind the goal line.
Roy gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead with his seventh of the season with 2:10 remaining in the first period. After receiving a pass at the blue line from Drew Stafford, Roy went in alone and wristed a shot past Clemmensen, who got a piece of the puck before it trickled in.
”Not everything is going to be perfect,” Clemmensen said. ”We got a point, so we need to look at the bright side.”
NOTES: Buffalo LW Ville Leino served his one-game suspension for elbowing Philadelphia’s Matt Read in the head during Wednesday’s game with the Flyers. … Sabres LW Nathan Gerbe missed his first game after sustaining a concussion against the Flyers, but D Jordan Leopold and C Cody McCormick returned after both missed time with injuries. … The Sabres recalled Szczechura from Rochester of the AHL prior to the game to replace Gerbe. … Buffalo RW Corey Tropp left in the first period and didn’t return after absorbing an open-ice hit by Florida D Dmitry Kulikov. The Sabres said Tropp sustained an upper-body injury. … Buffalo C Jochen Hecht left and didn’t return after getting hit with a shot in the third period.