Aleksander Barkov’s OT goal gives Panthers needed win over Sabres
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers had another dramatic outcome in a homestand marked by emotional highs and lows.
It was the second loss in as many days for the Sabres, whose 10-game winning streak ended with a 5-4 setback Thursday in Tampa Bay.
Barkov took a cross-ice pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and made the most of a wide-open net against an out-of-position Linus Ullmark, who had stopped 40 of 42 shots before the game winner. James Reimer turned back 21 of 23 shots for Florida.
Barkov was relieved after the Panthers suffered a tough 3-2 loss to Anaheim late in regulation Wednesday, and an overtime loss to Chicago after the Blackhawks tied it with 1.8 seconds left in regulation before that over the first three games of the current eight-game homestand. Florida defeated the New Jersey Devils in yet another overtime thriller.
“It feels awesome . we’ve been losing games in the last minute and it’s tough like that. But this game was huge for us,” Barkov said.
“We definitely didn’t win the zone-time war — that battle was won by Florida,” Buffalo coach Phil Housley said.
Florida coach Bob Boughner said the team never stopped battling in the offensive zone, as evidenced by the 43 shots.
The Panthers have scored at least one power-play goal in 14 of their last 15 games.
“Special teams were good tonight and that really helped us. We stayed within our structure,” Boughner said. “We just try to wear teams down, especially teams that come in here and played the night before.”
Buffalo struck first. Skinner went top shelf on Reimer off a feed from Reinhart on a 2-on-1 break 10:55 into the first period. It was Skinner’s 20th goal of the season.
With just 1:29 left in the first, McCann tied the game with a one-timer from the top of the circle. McCann’s fifth goal beat Ullmark to the glove side.
“We’ve had a lot of bad luck here as of late, and to get that (win) was awesome,” McCann said, “Barky has been a leader for us on and off the ice the whole year.”
The Sabres regained the lead early in the second period when Reinhart converted a tip-in on the power play for his sixth goal. It came off an assist from Eichel, who upped his total to 27 this season.
“I thought we sat back, maybe a little too much, and let them take it to us with speed,” Eichel said. “I thought our willingness to skate with them and make plays was a little down. Obviously, it was a back-to-back and an emotional game last night, it’s a tough one.”
With just over eight minutes to go in the third period, Dadonov knocked in the rebound off an initial kick save by Ullmark in traffic near the crease, tying it at 2-all.
NOTES: Buffalo C Jeff Skinner continues to excel with his 12th goal in 15 games away from the KeyBank Center. He has five goals and an assist in the last six games against Florida. … Sabres C Sam Reinhart has 13 points in his last 12 games against the Panthers. … Lawrence Pilut made his NHL debut for Buffalo. … Florida G James Reimer made his third straight start as Roberto Luongo continues to rehab from a knee injury suffered Nov. 24 against Chicago.
Florida: Hosts Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Buffalo: At Nashville on Monday.
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