3rd-period burst leads Panthers to 5-2 win over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Florida Panthers got the third-period response they were looking for, and they continued their dominance over the Buffalo Sabres.
Evgenii Dadonov had two goals and an assist, including the go-ahead tally on a penalty shot, as the Panthers scored three quick goals to open the final period and picked up their seventh straight win over the Sabres, 5-2 on Tuesday night. Florida had previously been outscored 42-23 in the third period, the worst margin in the NHL.
“We’ve been in that situation so many times this year ... letting a game fall again,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “It was important. I think we’re learning from our mistakes.”
Troy Brouwer, Aleksander Barkov and Frank Vatrano also scored for the Panthers, who scored three goals in a span of 2:44 in the third period. Roberto Luongo made 30 saves.
Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Ristolainen scored for Buffalo. Carter Hutton made 31 saves.
The game turned late in the second period following a tripping penalty by Skinner on Barkov.
Barkov briefly left the game and defenseman Keith Yandle went after Skinner, grabbing him and dropping his gloves while drawing a roughing penalty as Skinner backed off. Later replays showed that Barkov’s skate blade buckled and it wasn’t a dirty play by Skinner.
“I thought it was worse than it was,” Yandle said.
Both players — and the Panthers as a team — responded to open the third. As Yandle was booed loudly, the defenseman’s long shot was deflected into the net by Barkov for a power-play goal 58 seconds in to make it 2-2.
Less than two minutes later, Dadonov converted on a penalty shot after he was taken down by defenseman Rasmus Dahlin on a breakaway. Dadonov’s shot was initially stopped by Hutton, but he never secured the puck and it trickled past the goal line to make it 3-2.
“Sometimes it takes a bounce to get your team going and that one really helped us,” Yandle said.
Vatrano completed the flurry 4:42 into the third. After Dadonov circled around the Buffalo net, Vatrano buried Dadonov’s rebound to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead.
Dadonov added an empty-net goal with 2:30 remaining.
Skinner opened the scoring on his 25th goal of the season 3:48 into the game, finishing a feed from the corner by Jack Eichel. With the goal, Skinner topped his goal total from last season (24) in just 35 games.
Eichel and Skinner extended their point streaks to seven games on the opening goal.
“I thought we lost sight of our game maybe a bit there,” Eichel said. “All of a sudden you’re down a few goals. It just seems like we lost momentum. It’s frustrating, we’re at home, we’ve got to find a way to have a better third period than that.”
Brouwer evened the score midway through the second period off two fortunate bounces in the Buffalo end. After Jared McCann’s initial shot on a 3-on-1 went behind the net, Brouwer flung the rebound off Hutton’s skate and into the net from a hard angle.
Ristolainen made it 2-1 with 8:52 left in the second on a misstep by Luongo, tucking a shot inside the near post from close range.
Sabres veteran Jason Pominville was injured six minutes into the third period after an accidental collision with Ristolainen. Pominville made his way slowly to the locker room and did not return.
“Obviously you know that I didn’t see him,” Ristolainen said.
Sabres coach Phil Housley had no update on the injury after the game.
NOTES: Sam Reinhart recorded his 100th career assist on Buffalo’s opening goal. ... Panthers coach Bob Boughner played in 177 games for the Sabres from 1996-98. D Nathan Beaulieu and LW Remi Elie were scratched for Buffalo. ... C Colton Sceviour, Nick Bjugstad and D Bogdan Kiselevich were scratched for Florida. ... The next meeting between these teams will be Jan. 3 in Buffalo.
Panthers: At Toronto on Thursday.
Sabres: At Washington on Friday.