The Florida Panthers remain red hot coming out of the All-Star break, defeating the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 at KeyBank Center on Thursday night for their first back-to-back victories since winning five in a row from Dec. 19-30.
"It's big," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "You get that feeling. We went on a five-game run there for a bit. We've played a lot of good road games that we never got rewarded for. Tonight, we weren't great tonight, and we got the two points. That happens.
"They key now is just to put this in the back of our mind here and concentrate on Detroit Saturday night and try to take it one game a time. We can't look forward to our schedule. We have to make sure that we're prepared every night to compete."
Denis Malgin scored the game-winning goal for the Panthers, beating goaltender Chad Johnson with a backhander to put Florida up 3-1 at 18:11 of the first period. In the third period, some already chippy play boiled over into a few brawls after Buffalo's Evander Kane picked up a five-minute major penalty for an interference penalty on Aleksander Barkov and game misconduct with 2:01 left in regulation.
"I didn't like it," Boughner said of Kane's hit. "I didn't like the timing of it. I think the refs were right in their call and we'll let the league handle it from there." Mike Matheson, Keith Yandle and Colton Sceviour also scored for the Panthers, who now sit just eight points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
"There's a lot of good things going here," Boughner said. "Again, it's only two wins. We've got to keep going back home and keep clawing our way back into this thing."
Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Buffalo…
1. BUFFALO IN THE BOX
The Sabres took four penalties in the first period of Thursday night's game. The Panthers made them pay on two of them. After Johan Larsson was sent to the box for holding, Marco Scandella joined him just six seconds later after sending the puck out of play for a delay-of-game violation. It took only 38 seconds for the Panthers to capitalize on the 5-on-3 advantage, as Yandle, the team's power-play quarterback, blasted a one-timer past Johnson to make it a 1-1 game at 11:06 of the first period. Less than five minutes later, a too-many-men penalty sent Florida back on the power play, where Matheson scored to give the Panthers a 2-1 advantage at 14:29. After the first period, Yandle talked to FOX Sports Florida's Randy Moller about the team's success with the extra attacker. "We did a good job yesterday in practice working on it," he said. "We're feeling good about ourselves with it. It's helped us out so far." Florida has scored multiple power play goals five times this season, going 4-0-1 in those contests.
Video: FLA@BUF: Yandle blasts home one-timer for PPG
2. THE ROAD WARRIOR
I don't know if it's the airline peanuts or the hotel rooms, but Matheson continues to be an absolute beast on the road. After lighting the lamp on Tuesday against the Islanders, Matheson made it back-to-back goals on the road, scoring his sixth of the season on Thursday night. With the Panthers on the power play, Matheson beat Johnson with a long shot through traffic to put Florida up 2-1 at 14:29 of the first period. All six of Matheson's scores have come away from home - the most among Florida's blueliners. Following a slow start out of the gate, Matheson has now recorded nine points (6-3-9) over his last 20 contests and is tied with Aaron Ekblad for second among all Panthers defensemen with 16 points (6-10-15) in 48 games.
Video: FLA@BUF: Matheson pots long PPG through traffic
3. DENIS THE MENACE
They don't call him Denis the Menace for nothing. Like his fictional counterpart, the 5-foot-9 forward caused quite a headache for Johnson, who played the role of Mr. Wilson in Thursday night's game. After taking a slap pass from Yandle in front of Buffalo's net, Malgin, the puck on his backhand, waited patiently as he cruised along the crease before burying a shot past a sprawling Johnson to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead at 18:11 of the first period. The goal went on to stand as the eventual game-winner. "Somehow the puck got to me," Malgin said. "I was alone in front and I just scored." Malgin's been on fire recently, scoring three goals over his past four games. In his second season with the Panthers, the 21-year-old has already set new career highs in goals (8) and points (12) in just 29 games.
Video: FLA@BUF: Malgin scores a sweet backhand goal
4. SATERI TAKES TWO
It took Harri Sateri more than 28 years to earn his first NHL victory. It took him just two days to win his second. Sateri, who made 32 saves on Tuesday in Brooklyn, stopped 30 of 32 shots against the Sabres for the first back-to-back victories of his career. "He played great," Yandle said. "He's a guy that we know, especially after the way he played against the Islanders, the way he's been battling all year. Since he's been here, he's been great." Since taking over for injured goaltender James Reimer as Florida's starter on Jan. 25, Sateri has made three consecutive starts, going 2-1-0 while stopping 104 of 111 shots (.937 save percentage). "Harri played great, especially when we weren't very good in front of him in the third period," Boughner said. "He made some huge stops. I thought he was the difference tonight." On Wednesday, Bougher told the Joe Rose Show that he hopes both Reimer and Roberto Luongo, who has been out with a lower-body injury since Dec. 4, will return to practice sometime next week.
5. THE CLOSERS
The Panthers carried a 3-2 lead into the third period of Thursday night's game. And, as usual, they held on for the victory. The Panthers are now 13-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes, one of just five teams in the league with a 1.000 win percentage when holding the lead heading into the final frame. "It was one of those games that kind of got out of hand a little bit with some cheap stuff," Yandle said. "But the big thing is finding a way to win. We did a good job of that."
BONUS: SCEVIOUR HITS THE CENTURY MARK
Colton Sceviour scored the 100th point of his NHL career on Thursday night, beating Johnson with a nifty backhand that put the Panthers up 4-2 in at 17:36 of the third period.
Video: FLA@BUF: Sceviour nets backhander on two-on-one rush