by Brian Wheeler
A costly hooking penalty on Jochen Hecht
in the final two minutes of regulation opened the door for some last minute heroics by the Florida Panthers.
Florida center Olli Jokinen beat Ryan Miller
for a power-play goal with a precision shot from a bad angle at 18:53 of the third period, elevating Florida to the 3-2 victory over Buffalo at the BankAtlantic Center on Saturday night.
"Ryan just misplayed it," stated Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of the difference-maker. "That's a shot you would definitely want back, but we had several great chances in the third to put (Florida) away and we didn't."
Miller played well in his sixth start of the season for Buffalo, allowing just three goals off 42 Florida shots. The Sabres rookie goaltender has turned away 169 of 187 shots he has faced this season.
Roberto Luongo was equally impressive for the Panthers making 32 saves in the winning effort.
Falling behind 2-1 after Florida scored a pair of second-period goals by Nathan Horton and Martin Gelinas, Daniel Briere tied the game at 4:23 of the third with his second goal of the game.
Collecting a loose puck in front of Luongo, Briere fired a shot top shelf from about six feet out for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
"In the third, we just made better plays," stated Ruff. "We got pucks through, won some draws and had them chasing us."
Briere scored Buffalo's first goal of the night and his first of the game at 13:13 in the first, one-timing JP Dumont's pass from the slot past a sprawling Luongo.
Dumont finished the night with a pair of assists, while Jay McKee was credited with his first point of the season with an assist on Briere's second goal.
"I thought the first period we started kind of slow," said Ruff. "We ended up chasing a lot when we had no puck control."
For the third consecutive game, the Sabres' power play unit was held scoreless and has now failed to convert on the team's last 25 opportunities.
"Our power play actually gave us a lot of positive energy," stated Ruff. "We moved the puck well, got two or three scoring chances that were a lot better than in Tampa Bay.
"The guys made some nice plays but just didn't score." Thomas Vanek
led the Sabres with six shots on goal, while Toni Lydman again led all Buffalo skaters with over 20 minutes of ice time.
With the loss, Buffalo moves to 4-2-0 on the season and will next face the Boston Bruins on Thursday, October 20 at 7:00 PM in Banknorth Garden.
------------------------------------------ SCORING REPORTS
| Super Stats
| Faceoff Comp
| Play By Play
| Shift Chart GAME BLOG: Period 1
0-0 (7:30): Panthers have outshot the Sabres, 8-1, so far in the first period.
1-0 (13:13): JP Dumont passes up the open shot in the slot, instead choosing to slide the puck to Daniel Briere for the one-timer and his fourth goal of the season. Dumont's shot fake froze Roberto Luongo and left Briere with a wide open target. Dumont gets his second assist of 2005-06. Period 2
1-1 (7:12): Buffalo gets caught in a line change and Florida ties the game. Nathan Horton receives a pass from Rostislav Olesz, carries the puck into Buffalo's zone and snaps a wrist shot from the left face-off circle past Ryan Miller
just inside the left post. Olesz and Mike Van Ryn are credited with the assists.
1-2 (12:50): A shot from the point by Mike Van Ryn is tipped by Martin Gelinas and the Panthers have their first lead of the game. Ryan Miller
was screened on the play by Gelinas and never saw the shot or tip. Van Ryn picked up Buffalo's clearing attempt at the blue line and just lofted a shot on net. Period 3
2-2 (4:23): After a flurry of shots on Roberto Luongo, Daniel Briere fires a shot top shelf for his second goal of the night. Buffalo had six or seven quality chances just feet in front of Florida's net before Briere tied the game with just 14 minutes remaining in regulation. Jay McKee records his first assist of the season, while JP Dumont gets his third.
2-3 (18:53): Olli Jokinen catches Ryan Miller
with a bad angle, giving Florida the lead with just 1:24 remaining in regulation. Mike Van Ryn and Lukas Krajicek pick up an assists on the play.