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game recap

Panthers surge past Sabres in third period

Score three goals in 2:35, hand Buffalo fourth loss in past five games

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

Barkov slips the puck by Ullmark

BUF@FLA: Barkov stuffs the puck under Ullmark's stick

Aleksander Barkov crashes the net and slides the puck underneath Linus Ullmark's stick, extending the Panthers' lead to 3-1 in the 3rd period

  • 01:00 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jonathan Huberdeau, Jayce Hawryluk and Aleksander Barkov scored within 2:35 in the third period to help the Florida Panthers defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 at BB&T Center on Tuesday.

"I thought the goalie (Linus Ullmark) was playing pretty well, but I didn't think we were having second chances," Huberdeau said. "He was making the first save but after that we weren't around the net. In the third, that's what we did. We skated well and we had a lot of opportunities."

James Reimer, in his third consecutive start, made 32 saves for the Panthers (26-24-8), who have won three straight games and are 9-4-0 in their past 13. Florida is nine points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

 

[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Panthers highlights]

 

Huberdeau had two goals and an assist, Barkov had a goal and two assists, and linemate Frank Vatrano had two assists.

Jack Eichel and Vladimir Sobotka scored, and Ullmark made 37 saves for Buffalo (28-24-7), which has lost three in a row and four of its past five. The Sabres, 5-10-1 in their past 16 games, are six points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card.

"I think right now we're a fragile group," said Eichel, the Buffalo captain. "It's been a tough stretch for us, without a doubt. It just seems like things are going the opposite way [than] they were. It's an uphill climb for us right now."

Eichel made it 1-0 at 5:14 of the second period with a power-play goal when he redirected Sam Reinhart's pass from the top of the right circle.

Huberdeau tied it 1-1 at 3:07 of the third period, scoring on a breakaway after a backhand deke.

Hawryluk gave Florida a 2-1 lead at 3:50 after Vincent Trocheck's shot from the slot hit the post and bounced off his body.

Video: BUF@FLA: Hawryluk gets a lucky break

Barkov made it 3-1 at 5:42 when he squeezed the puck between Ullmark's legs near the right post.

"I was trying to look for a pass till the end and then just tried to jam it in the goalie's pads, maybe get a rebound," Barkov said. "But then behind the net I saw the puck was in the net. I would call it a lucky goal."

Eichel appeared to make it 3-2 at 12:53, but the goal was overturned after Florida successfully challenged for offside.

"I think at the time, I'm trying to make a play at the blue line," Eichel said. "It's bang-bang, it's pretty close. It's tough. Maybe it's a turning point in the game for us, maybe it's not. I'm not sure. I thought we had a good power play after it. We didn't score. The fourth one was definitely a dagger. We've just got to find ways to score more goals."

Huberdeau made it 4-1 at 16:45 with a backhand deke after he puck-handled around Sabres forward Jeff Skinner. 

Video: BUF@FLA: Huberdeau dangles, pots second goal

Sobotka scored with eight seconds left for the 4-2 final.

"We feel good about the way we've been playing and the recipe for success that's been working for us," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "Now you have to scoreboard watch and worry about other teams. It's fun just plugging away and winning games and getting on a roll."

 

They said it

"I think they believe in each other. And I believe in the group. I like our game at times.  … Again it's just mistakes. We're developing young players right now and we've just got to keep fighting and keep pushing." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley

 

"The last month we've been really good, we've been winning games and having fun on the ice and in practices. Everybody comes here and has fun and works hard, so we're happy that we're having success right now. We all know we can't stop right now. We need to keep going and keep getting better." -- Panthers center Aleksander Barkov

 

Need to know

Buffalo played a second consecutive game without forward Kyle Okposo (concussion), who was injured against the New York Rangers on Friday. … Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson did not play after the first period because of a lower-body injury. Boughner did not have an update. … Florida has won 10 of the past 11 games against Buffalo at BB&T Center dating to the 2013-14 season. … Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons played his 400th NHL game. … Buffalo defensemen Zach Bogosian (22:14) and Rasmus Ristolainen (21:15) played after sitting out practice Monday. … Panthers forward Mike Hoffman played his 400th NHL game. … Roberto Luongo, who missed Florida's 6-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday while on bereavement leave, was Reimer's backup.

 

What's next

Sabres: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-SE, NHL.TV)

Video: Panthers explode for four goals in 3rd period

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