Panthers one point out of playoff spot after win over Sabres
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The surging Florida Panthers are edging closer to a playoff spot.
The Panthers have won five straight and are 12-3-0 in their past 15. They began the night three points behind Columbus for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The Blue Jackets played later at Anaheim.
“We’re having a heck of a run here,” Bjugstad said. “Anything can happen at the end of the year. A spark has been lit here.”
Reimer filled in admirably for Roberto Luongo, who has won four straight but was given the night off in the second of back-to-back games.
“He was sharp,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said about Reimer. “It was nice to get four goals for him, but I think he looked real comfortable in the net.”
“I think we had effort today, but they got some breaks and we didn’t,” Lehner said. “It was a solid game but things were just clicking for them.”
Barkov stretched the Panthers’ lead to 3-1 when he flipped the puck over Lehner’s shoulder at 6:49 of the second period. Barkov has six goals and nine assists in his past 10 games and is tied with Vincent Trocheck for the team lead in goals.
Sceviour made it 4-1 when he poked in a rebound with 8:44 left in the second.
“They capitalized on their opportunities and we didn’t,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said.
Florida’s previous four games were decided by one goal, but the Panthers took a 4-1 lead into the third period.
“We don’t get a lot of those games,” Boughner said.
Ekblad put the Panthers ahead 2-1 after he took a cross-ice pass from Keith Yandle in the right circle and wristed it past Lehner with 3:19 left in the first.
Matheson gave Florida a 1-0 lead 1:25 in when he corralled the puck in the high slot and fired a shot that beat Lehner on the stick side. The goal was Matheson’s ninth but first on home ice.
Reinhart tied the score at 1 when he swept the puck in from the right side at 5:34 of the first.
NOTES: The Panthers have scored first in 11 of their past 13 games. … Reinhart has 21 points in his past 21 games. … Sabres forward Kyle Okposo returned after missing Wednesday’s game at Tampa Bay due to the birth of his third child.
Sabres: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Panthers: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.