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Shootout king Boyes leads Panthers past Sabres

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO - Brad Boyes' familiarity with Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth helped the Florida Panthers get two points Thursday night.

Boyes scored in regulation and again the shootout to give the Panthers a 2-1 victory at First Niagara Center, the arena he called home while playing 86 games for the Sabres in 2011 and '12.

Boyes scored his 37th career shootout goal, the most since the NHL adopted the tiebreaker in 2005, in the third round of the tiebreaker when he ripped a shot that hit the right post, caromed off the back of Enroth's leg and went over the goal line.

It wasn't the first time the two had squared off.

"Being here and going against [Enroth] in practice a lot, he was showing me glove, he was kind of waving it to me," Boyes said. "He was taunting me; he knows kind of where I go so I tried to change it up a bit. It was good. I have trouble against guys that I played with, so it was nice to get it on him. I liked that."

The Panthers thought they had scored in the second round when Jonathan Huberdeau stuffed the puck into the net. But the referees ruled that Huberdeau used his stick to push Enroth's pad and the puck into the net, and the goal was waved off.

"I don't know all the ins and outs about it, but I tell you looking at it in the replay I thought [Huberdeau's] goal in the shootout should have counted," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said.

Tim Thomas stopped all three Buffalo shots in the shootout after making 23 saves through 65 minutes.

"You've got to make yourself bear down," Thomas said. "Once they got one, I'm thinking to myself, 'I cannot let them get two or else this game is out of reach the way things are going.' Yes we're getting shots, but we're not completely penetrating. It's not like we were getting breakaways and odd-man rushes."

Enroth (1-8-4) made 34 saves. The Sabres have scored 18 goals in his 14 appearances (13 starts) this season.

"I'm running out of answers on those questions," Enroth said about the lack of support.

Defenseman Jamie McBain gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 5:13 of the second period when he scored his third goal of the season. McBain put a wrist shot past Thomas after a quick pass from Sabres captain Steve Ott at 5:13.

The Sabres nearly made it 2-0 a minute later when Brian Flynn had a breakaway against Thomas. Flynn tried to go five-hole, but Thomas closed his legs and made the save.

"Timmy played great obviously," Horachek said. "He made some great saves and there were some blunders, some turnovers and that's going to happen. You would hope that some of those wouldn't be so drastic ... there was a few in the third he left them all by themselves in front of the net. They got some great chances, some great looks, Timmy was rock-solid, he kept us in the game."

Florida had an opportunity to even the score in the second period when the Sabres were called for too many men on the ice while killing a hooking penalty to defenseman Alexander Sulzer. The Panthers had 31 seconds of 5-on-3 power-play time and managed to put six shots on goal, but were unable to put a puck past Enroth.

"Usually when you have a big penalty kill you get some momentum," Enroth said. "I don't know. It's tough to win with this team."

Boyes tied it at 9:16 of the third period by tipping Tom Gilbert's slap shot past Enroth for his 12th of the season.

"Everybody worked hard tonight," Horachek said. "There were a lot of contributions from the whole team in a lot of different areas so it was a good team effort."

Boyes thought he had given the Panthers a 2-1 lead 13:07, but officials stopped play because defenseman Dmitry Kulikov sustained a cut to his face.

"I think that ultimately Boyes' goal in the period should have counted or there should have been a four-minute penalty, one or the other," Horachek said. "But that's the way it goes. Sometimes it works that way and sometimes it doesn't. You hope that it works out in the right way, the way that you'd wanted it to so maybe it just worked out in our favor the way it's supposed to."

The Sabres (12-26-5) are off until they visit the Washington Capitals on Sunday. The Panthers (17-21-6) finish a three-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Florida has 40 points, seven short of a playoff berth.

"We need points and we got them, found a way," Boyes said. "It's something we talk about as we're going with young guys. Whether it's a good win or a bad win, points are points."

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