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Surging Panthers claw Sabres in 6-2 victory

by Brian Compton /

Here come the Florida Panthers.

Peter DeBoer's team continued its journey down the comeback trail asMichael Frolik scored twice,Dominic Moore and Rostislav Olesz each had a goal and an assist, andTomas Vokoun made 26 saves as the Panthers coasted to a 6-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night.

Florida (8-9-2) has won six of nine games after a dismal 2-7-1 start.

''It's taken some time,'' Moore said. ''As you go you learn, and you try to improve each game. We've got a group that has taken a while to jell, so every game and every period we're just trying to get better.''

Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur scored for the Sabres, andRyan Miller made 18 saves for Buffalo (12-5-1), which failed to extend a winning streak to four games for the third time this season.

''A lot of the mistakes are on our own shoulders,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ''We turned some pucks over, and had some guys who didn't stop and compete on pucks.''

The teams exchanged goals in the first period. Stafford gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 14:23 before Frolik tied it just 3:58 later. Stephen Weiss then gave Florida a 2-1 lead when he collected a giveaway by Miller and fired it into an empty net 81 seconds into the second period.

''I think right now we're playing much better as a team and guys are realizing what we need to do to win," said Vokoun, who is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts. "Before, a lot of guys were doing their own thing, and you can't win in this League by doing that.''

Cory Stillman gave the Panthers a two-goal lead with his sixth goal of the season midway through a third period that saw Vokoun stop 10 of 11 shots. His lone blemish was MacArthur's power-play goal at 14:17, which Florida responded to by notching three late unanswered tallies.

''They just played boring until they got a lead and then they played more boring,'' Miller said. ''You have to be willing to get it deep and just be boring yourself. It was one of those nights where everything we seem to do kind of went against us.''

Keith Ballard had three assists for the Panthers, who also received goals from Frolik, Olesz and Moore in the third period. Olesz scored into an empty net at 18:12 before Moore added insult to injury when he beat Miller with a minute remaining.

''We've really cleaned up our defensive game by leaps and bounds over the last dozen games,'' DeBoer said. ''We couldn't have been any worse in our first six or seven games of the season.''

Material from wire services was used in this report

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