BUFFALO (CBSMiami/AP) — The Florida Panthers are off to a good start in the NHL’s unofficial second half of the season.
Harri Sateri stopped the final 19 shots he faced and 30 overall, and Keith Yandle had a goal and two assists in leading the Panthers to a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Mike Matheson, Denis Malgin and Colton Sceviour also scored for the Panthers, who won consecutive games for the first time since winning five in a row from Dec. 19-30. Sateri, a 28-year-old NHL rookie, also won his second career game with starter Roberto Luongo and backup James Reimer both sidelined with lower body injuries.
Sceviour’s goal scored with 2:24 left sealed the victory as he was allowed to drive up the left wing and backhand in a shot that beat Chad Johnson on the short side.
Ryan O’Reilly and Zemgus Girgensons scored for a Sabres team that continues to struggle at home. Buffalo ranks last in the Eastern Conference standings and dropped to 6-14-3 at home after entering the day tied with Arizona with the NHL’s fewest home wins.
Chad Johnson stopped 28 shots.
The game became chippy with the Sabres’ frustrations showing after Sceviour scored. Buffalo’s Evander Kane picked up a five-minute major penalty for an interference penalty on Aleksander Barkov and game misconduct with 2:01 left.
Then, Panthers Vincent Trocheck sparked a scuffle after he slashed Buffalo’s Jake McCabe in the final minute. Sabres forward Johan Larsson picked up a match penalty for retaliating by cross-checking Trocheck.
The Sabres opened the scoring on O’Reilly’s power-play goal 7:02 in before the Panthers closed the first period by scoring three times in a span of 7 minutes and 5 seconds.
Yandle began the run by one-timing in Barkov’s pass into the right circle for a power-play goal at the 11:06 mark. Matheson scored another power-play goal 3 1/2 minutes later on a shot through a crowd from the blue line.
Malgin made it 3-1 with 1:49 left, when Yandle set him up driving alone to the net a few steps ahead of defenseman Josh Gorges. Malgin cut through the crease and then flipped a puck into left side with Johnson slow getting across.
The first period has been an issue all season for the slow-starting Sabres. They’ve now been outscored 47-23 in the opening 20 minutes.
After giving up two power-play goals, the Sabres capitalized on a short-handed opportunity in the opening minute. Larsson got to a loose puck behind the Panthers net and fed Girgensons in the high slot. Girgensons used Evgenii Dadonov as a screen and snapped a shot that sneaked in under Sateri’s blocker arm.
The Sabres were booed off the ice following the first period, but got the small crowd back in the game by dominating the play in the Panthers’ zone over a three-minute span midway through the second period.
Sateri was sharp in stopping several chances from close in with Buffalo players buzzing the net. O’Reilly was foiled by Sateri once and then had another shot trickle just wide of the open left side. Sateri also managed to knock down a hard shot from defenseman Marco Scandella during the flurry of Buffalo chances.
NOTES: Reimer took part in the team’s morning skate, but missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury. … Sabres C Jacob Josefson returned after missing seven games with a lower body injury. … Barkov played in his 300th career game. … Sceviour’s goal was the 100th point of his career.
Panthers: open three-game homestand against Detroit on Saturday.
Sabres: continue five-game homestand against St. Louis on Saturday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)