Sabres survive 4-3 against Florida

Jeff Skinner scores twice in the win for Buffalo

Pat Malacaro
January 03, 2019 - 7:08 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports


Jeff Skinner scored twice, including the game-winning goal, in the Buffalo Sabres' 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at KeyBank Center.

Skinner scored his 27th goal of the season nearly five minutes into the game to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead over Florida. Skinner's shot came from the slot and was wired into the top corner of the net to beat Roberto Luongo. Sam Reinhart was credited with the lone assist on the goal.

The lead increased to 2-0 nearly three minutes later when Luongo was beat by a low wrist shot from Tage Thompson. It was the second goal on just four shots for the blue and gold. Thompson's fifth goal of the year was assisted by Vladimir Sobotka and Conor Sheary.

Buffalo went to the penalty kill later in the opening stanza when Rasmus Dahlin was called for interference. However, the blue and gold were able to kill off the minor penalty without allowing a goal.

Thompson was called for a tripping penalty nearly halfway through the second period to give Florida another power play opportunity. Once again, the Sabres killed off the two-minute minor without a problem.

However, minutes later, the Panthers took advantage of a breakout play from their own zone and scored in the offensive zone. Frank Vatrano used a wrist shot to beat Linus Ullmark to cut Florida's deficit to 2-1 in the middle frame. Dahlin was knocked down in the offensive zone, and when the puck went the other direction, the Sabres were not able to stop the rush.

The Panthers' first penalty of the night came with four minutes to go in the second period, when Mike Hoffman was penalized for hooking. 

Buffalo's lead was extended back to two goals just over a minute into the third period with a shot from the point that was redirected into the net. Lawrence Pilut took the shot from the blue line, and Reinhart managed to get a piece of the shot before finding the back of the net.

The blue and gold enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play part-way through the final frame as Mark Pysyk and Ekblad were each penalized within a minute of one another. But the Sabres did not score, despite having several quality chances while on the two-man advantage.

The Panthers were able to convert on their next power play chance, as Hoffman netted his 19th goal of the season by sweeping the puck into an open net with Ullmark trying to cover the puck. The goal came with Kyle Okposo in the box for slashing.

Skinner's second goal of the night came at a key time, with about four minutes to go in regulation. It restored the Sabres' lead to two goals, 4-2. The forward knocked the puck out of the air in the neutral zone, and snuck his shot underneath the arm of Luongo for his 28th goal of the season.

Aleksander Barkov brought the Panthers back within a goal once again, 4-3, with his 16th goal of the year. Florida pulled the goaltender in favor of an extra attacker, and the captain was able to kick the puck to his stick before shoveling it into the net for the score.

From there, the Sabres managed to limit Florida's chances as time dwindled away and Buffalo locked down the win on home ice.


Goal Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 4:42 - Jeff Skinner (27) (Sam Reinhart); 7:15 - Tage Thompson (Vladimir Sobotka, Conor Sheary)

Second Period:

FLA: 13:42 - Frank Vatrano (11) (Colton Sceviour)

Third Period:

BUF: 1:20 - Sam Reinhart (9) (Lawrence Pilut, Zach Bogosian); 16:14 - Jeff Skinner (28) (unassisted)
FLA: 12:15 - Mike Hoffman (19) (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau); 18:31 - Aleksander Barkov (16) (Keith Yandle, Aaron Ekblad)


Penalty Summary:

First Period:

BUF: 12:42 - Rasmus Dahlin (Interference - 2 min.)

Second Period:

BUF: 9:24 - Tage Thompson (Hooking - 2 min.)
FLA: 15:59 - Mike Hoffman (Hooking - 2 min.)

Third Period:

BUF: 10:33 - Kyle Okposo (Slashing - 2 min.)
FLA: 5:51 - Mark Pysyk (Tripping - 2 min.); 6:26 - Aaron Ekblad (Slashing - 2 min.)

Shots on Goal:

BUF: 33 (12, 11, 10)
FLA: 38 (10, 13, 15)


BUF: Linus Ullmark - 35 saves
FLA: Roberto Luongo - 30 saves

Power Plays:

BUF: 0 for 3 (0%)
FLA: 1 for 3 (33.3%)

Three Stars:

  1. Jeff Skinner - BUF
  2. Tage Thompson - BUF
  3. Aleksander Barkov - FLA

What's Next

The blue and gold head out on the road for an important Atlantic Division matchup with the Boston Bruins. The puck drops at TD Garden just after seven o'clock on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550. Pregame coverage with Brian Koziol begins at 6 p.m.

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