SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a two-game winning streak is a sign of better things to come.
Nathan Gerbe scored his first two goals of the season, Ryan Miller made 38 saves and the Sabres beat the struggling Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout Thursday night.
Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville both scored in the tiebreaker for Buffalo. Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller missed their attempts for Florida.
Tyler Ennis also scored in regulation for the Sabres and Steve Ott had two assists. Buffalo has won two straight since losing four in a row and is 2-1 since Ron Rolston took over as interim coach when Lindy Ruff was fired.
“We’ll take it. It’s a step in the direction we need to keep going in,” Rolston said. “We still have a big ceiling in terms of room for improvement for our team. Our mindset has to be to get back and be better again come Saturday night (at New Jersey).”
Brian Campbell, Marcel Goc and Drew Shore scored for the Panthers. Jose Theodore, who replaced Scott Clemmensen in goal with 3:14 left in the first period, stopped all 12 shots he faced.
The Panthers have lost eight of their past 10 games and six of seven at home, but have picked up a point in four of those losses.
“You probably feel like your fans do. There’s a few games over last week where we ended up with one point and you leave the rink with a bad taste in your mouth,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “If you look at tempo, pace, and the way the game played out, we’re not dissatisfied with the way we played the game.”
Campbell tied it at 3 with a slap shot from the top of the left circle with 1:26 left in regulation after the Panthers won a faceoff.
All the other scoring came in the first period.
“It’s frustrating not getting the two points,” Campbell said.
With the score tied 2-all, Gerbe’s second goal of the game, a wrist shot from the short side, reclaimed the lead for the Sabres and chased Clemmensen, who allowed three goals on 10 shots.
“That was a good game,” Gerbe said. “We settled back maybe a little too much in the second, (and) they took it to us. But a resilient win for us. Obviously, we don’t want to give up that late goal, but Ryan did a great job getting us in a shootout.”
The Panthers cut it to 2-1 on a power-play goal by Shore, the second of the season for the rookie. He backhanded a shot from in front that went under Miller’s pads at 14:24 of the first.
Florida tied the game at 2 less than a minute later. Goc brought the puck out from behind the net and swept it past Miller for his second goal in two games.
The Sabres went ahead 1-0 on Gerbe’s first goal in 17 games this year. His wrist shot from the right circle found its way into the net at 6:30.
“I think my speed the last 10-12 games has been real good and I feel like I’m getting my legs back, getting the chances,” Gerbe said. “So hopefully, I can keep it rolling and keep scoring.”
Ennis scored a power-play goal at 11:00 to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead. A Panthers defenseman tried to clear the puck from in front of the net but Ennis found it and flipped it in from the right side of the crease.
The Sabres were 0 for 13 on the power play coming in