With nothing to play for, the Florida Panthers stayed tight with the desperate Buffalo Sabres for nearly 50 minutes on Friday night. But two goals just 13 seconds apart propelled the Sabres to a 4-2 victory at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
It didn’t take long for the game to catch fire, as Jason Pominville got the Sabres on the board just 1:23 into the first period. Panthers defenseman Keaton Ellerby checked a Sabres forward into Tomas Vokoun, and Pominville easily slid the loose puck into the open net.
However, the Panthers came right back with a goal just a couple of minutes later. Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers fell down with the puck, in his own end, and turned it over to Sergei Samsonov. Samsonov drove towards the net and flipped a backhand shot passed Ryan Miller’s stick side.
Drew Stafford continued his excellent season with his 27th goal of the year, early in the second period. Brad Boyes hit Stafford with a centering pass, and Stafford was able to snap the puck passed Vokoun.
The Sabres put it away midway through the third period with the two quick goals. On the power play, Pominville took a shot from the point, which Jordan Leopold deflected into the net. Moments later, Stafford got his second goal of the game, taking a Tyler Ennis rebound shot and wristing the puck through Vokoun’s legs.
Evgeni Dadonov scored with just over two seconds left, when he beat Miller cleanly with a quick wrist shot from the left face off circle.
The Sabres remained three points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida plays the fourth of a five game road trip, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.