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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 5, Sabres 4 (SO)

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT SO T
Panthers 1 1 2 0 2-4 5
Sabres 0 3 1 0 1-4 4
FLA - S. Matthias (11), PP - T. Fleischmann (8), S. Matthias (12), PP - J. Huberdeau (13), SO - M. Santorelli
BUF - N. Gerbe (4), A. Sekera (2), D. Stafford (5), M. Foligno (5)

SUNRISE, Fla —  Mike Santorelli scored the winning goal in the shootoout to lift the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Jonathan Huberdeau also scored in the shootout for the Panthers and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo.

"It was an important goal in the third to tie the game. The team had a great effort tonight. We were up 2-0 and we came back two times in this game. We want to work and we want to get wins."

- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau.
1. 2-0 Jump Start: In their last three games but on the losing end at the end of it, Florida had the perfect start to putting the losing streak to an end. They came out with momentum and got the crowd into it early as Shawn Matthias scored 3:28 into the game. It was determination by the forward as he followed up on a Tyson Strachan rebound to beat Ryan Miller with the shot. Florida seemed to feed off the early momentum as they fired 12 shots on Miller in the opening period and drew a penalty by Ville Leino late in the period. In the dressing room with a power play continuing in the second, the Panthers pounced on the Sabres as Tomas Fleischmann was the result of hard work behind the goal line. Marcel Goc fought off a Sabres defender and fed to Brian Campbell who had crashed below the goal line as well. The defenseman found Tomas Kopecky out to the side of the net who in turn fired a backhanded pass to Fleischmann cross ice. The forward gathered the puck and scored top shelf into the open net for a two goal cushion just 43 seconds into the second.

2. Three Unanswered: Florida fans didn't have enough time to celebrate as Buffalo would rattle off three in the second period to take a one goal advantage into the dressing room. It was a little "puck luck" as head coach Kevin Dineen would call it following the game as the Sabres scored off Panthers defensemen and off redirects to take the advantage. First it was Nathan Gerbe scoring off a Panther 1:36 into the period. Andrej Sekera tied it at two with 5:04 to play as his shot skipped off the ice and past Jacob Markstrom. Then with 55.4 remaining, Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the point was redirected by Drew Stafford. Markstrom got a piece of the shot but the puck still found its way past the goal line. The cheers from the fans earlier in the game turned to boos as the period ended.

3. Battling Back And Winning: Just like they have in the last three losses, Florida kept battling despite being down. This time they were rewarded for it. First it was Matthias tying the game at three as he gathered in another rebound and fired it past Miller 5:23 in. Buffalo regained the lead with another "puck luck" goal as Jordan Leopold's point shot was redirected nicely by Marcus Foligno for a power play tally with 8:27 to play. Getting a power play of their own, Jonathan Huberdeau finally got the monkey off his back by scoring his team-leading 13th of the season from in close off a neat feed from Peter Mueller with 6:09 to play. The teams had their chances late in the third as well as in overtime, including Matthias and Huberdeau almost hooking up in the extra session but this one would go to the shootout. Just like the last time the teams met in Sunrise, this one would be decided by the one-on-one session. Unlike last time, Florida came out victorious. There were some nerves as Jason Pominville scored on Buffalo's first shot and Mueller couldn't answer for Florida. After Markstrom came up with a stop, Huberdeau stepped up, skated in and deked to put the puck on net. The play was initially deemed no goal but a video review showed that his shot crossed the goal line tying the game. After a third shooter for each side failed the score, it wen to sudden death. Markstrom once again came up with the stop and Mike Santorelli played the hero as he raced in and fired a shot past Miller for the victory. A character victory indeed, one that you wish happened earlier and a lot more in the season.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@darketernaldays: thanks @FlaPanthers for making me have minor heart attacks throughout the game tonight & losing my voice from cheering yall on #redrising <3

@_DaraRoss: @FlaPanthers I love winning!!!! @ShawnMatthias is on fire! Lets go cats!!!!

@soccer416steph: Awesome @FlaPanthers WIN tonight!! Great effort by @ShawnMatthias @j_markstrom @JonnyHuby11...lost my voice from the shootout! #redrising

@305MiamiTeams: Wow, a shootout win by the #FlaPanthers! Very exciting game! Huberdeau with 13 goals and 23 points this season. #CalderWatch

@Ad1zzI3: Glad to see Santorelli get the game winning shootout goal. @FlaPanthers winning at home on my birthday, love it!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Laurie Gartshore: Irving What a game that was!! Good job cats!!

Cody Llamas: That Game Had Everything.. What A Game And LETS GO PANTHERS

Max Hochman: Awesome game, another strong shootout performance!

William Arkrot: wow, that's amazing! What a game, seriously ate half of my thumbnail during the shootout!

C.j. Rafferty: Whooo!!! Yea baby! I dont care what this season has turned out to be, I cant help but jump outta my seat for a shootout win!

2. Florida had a two goal lead to begin the game only to see it evaporate with three straight Buffalo goals. They did a great job though as they battled back from two different one-goal deficits to take the extra point.

Called on in the fourth round of the shootout, Mike Santorelli answered with his third game deciding goal of his NHL career. The successful shot boosted his overall shootout totals to .50%, scoring on 9 of his 18 shots.

Put together as a line, the trio of Jonathan Huberdeau, Shawn Matthias and Peter Mueller were just the spark that the Panthers needed as each player picked up two points and recorded six of Florida's 11 points.

9/13/23. It took a while as he was stuck on 12 goals for a long time but Huberdeau recorded his rookie leading 13th of the season as he tied the game at four. It ended a nine-game goalless drought. Add in the assist and Huberdeau has 23 points on the season, one back of the league rookie lead (Tampa Bay's Corey Conacher).

Florida was strong in the face-off circle as they won 56% of the draws. Leading the way with an amazing 86% winning percentage was center Jerred Smithson who won 12 of his 14 draws.

Shawn Matthias
Got the scoring party started and then had a huge goal to tie the game at three in the third period. Finished tied for second most shots on the team, one behind Fleischmann.

2 Goals, 2 Points, 6 Shots, +1, 18:12 TOI
Florida will meet the team that knocked them out of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season for the first time on home ice since that Game 7 double overtime game. The two teams did meet once, in New Jersey, with the Devils coming out with a 2-1 victory last Saturday. The Devils victory came at a cost as they lost one of their best players, Ilya Kovalchuk for two to four weeks with an upper body injury. New Jersey hasn't played since Monday when they fell in overtime to Ottawa 3-2. Florida will be the second game of back-to-backs as New Jersey will play Friday night in Tampa Bay. The Devils are led offensively by Patrik Elias (29 points in 33 games) while Martin Brodeur holds a 10-2-4 record with a 2.08 goals against average this season.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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