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Jagr scores twice, Panthers defeat Sabres

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers are off to a hot start.

Jagr scored two first-period goals and had a third-period assist to help the Panthers defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 at BB&T Center on Thursday.

Jagr's third and fourth goals of the season gave him 726 for his NHL career; he moved within five of Marcel Dionne for fourth place on the League's all-time list.

"Sometimes the puck goes in, sometimes it doesn't," Jagr said. "It doesn't matter what you do. I���learned that over 25 years. Right now the puck is going in, so I'm trying to shoot it."

It was the 124th multigoal game of Jagr's NHL���career and second this season. He scored two goals in Florida's 7-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers in its season opener Saturday.

Jagr needed 23 games to get his fourth goal last season with the New Jersey Devils; he has four goals in four games this season.

"Yeah, if he can get 82 this year, I'd be pretty happy with that," Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. "He keeps getting the job done. It's fun to watch. The team has confidence in him and that gives him confidence and rejuvenates him a little bit. We'll keep him going as long as we can."

Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist, and Luongo made 24 saves for Florida. Luongo is 7-0-0 against Buffalo over the past three seasons, with four victories by shutout.

The victory was the 403th of Luongo's NHL career, moving him into a tie with Grant Fuhr for ninth place on the all-time list.

"It's nice, but right now it's not really things that I'm paying attention to,"���Luongo said. "We're trying to get some wins under our belt to start the year and trying to start off on the right foot. These are things that you reflect on when it's all said and done."

The Panthers (3-1-0) are off to their best four-game start since 2011-12, the last time they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They won one of their first four games each of the past three seasons.

Florida has allowed five goals in its four games.

"If you look at it last year, we were so close and we didn't have a great start to the season,"���Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Every point is important. Every game is important. So far they've been really good. They're coming to work and they're coming to compete. We're off to a good start, but it's four games and we've got to keep doing it."

Defenseman Jake McCabe and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres, who were playing their first road game after opening with a 1-2-0 homestand. McCabe's goal was the first of his NHL���career.

Goalie Chad Johnson, making his third consecutive start with Robin Lehner sidelined by an ankle injury, made 26 saves.

"That's a Florida team that's got a lot of confidence,"���Buffalo forward Marcus Foligno said. "We came into their barn and played a pretty good road game."

Florida is 8-0-1 in its past nine against Buffalo, including four consecutive victories here.

Sabres captain Brian Gionta made his season debut after being sidelined by a lower-body injury. He played on the top line with rookie Jack Eichel and Evander Kane.

Jagr opened the scoring at 8:52 with Florida on a 5-on-3 power play. He scored from a sharp angle after taking a saucer pass from Barkov across the crease.

It was the 205th power-play goal of Jagr's NHL career; he moved into a tie for 13th place on the all-time list with Joe Sakic. Jagr had been tied with Wayne Gretzky.

"It was a great pass,"���������Jagr said. "I���������had an empty net. I���������need like 80 of them."

Jagr scored again 27 seconds after play resumed following the first intermission, which was started with 2:53 remaining in the period because of glass repair.

After getting the puck near the boards, Jagr skated toward the right dot and took a wrist shot that beat Johnson over his glove.

"He shoots everything no matter where it is, and he finds ways,"���������Johnson said. "That's Jagr."

Florida lost momentum early in the second period after three penalties forced them to play shorthanded for all but 47 seconds of the first 6:27.

Buffalo was 1-for-6 on the power play; Florida was 2-for-5.

"It was a strange game,"���������Jagr said. "There were so many penalties. I���������think we were more lucky than good today. We'll take it, but we have to play better on Saturday to beat Dallas."

McCabe scored in his 11th NHL���������game when he redirected Foligno's backhand pass from the wing at 7:10 of the second.

"I was planning on, once he got that goal, that we'd be talking about it in a comeback, winning effort,"���������Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I like how he got it, as a D-man joining the play. It was a much-needed goal."

Barkov made it 3-1 at 4:24 of the third period with another power-play goal. He scored on a rebound from the slot after Johnson stopped Jagr's slap shot.

It was Barkov's second goal in two games. He scored Tuesday in the third period of a 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Buffalo is 1-3-0 with its next game Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We had a lot of momentum, even when they made it 3-1,"���������Foligno said. "We were pushing pretty good. I thought we stuck with it and had a lot of chances. Their power play was clicking. The Barkov, [Jonathan]���������Huberdeau and Jagr line is a special line. Unfortunately, they got the better of us tonight."

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