Stafford leads playoff-hopeful Sabres over PanthersMar 26, 2011 - 4:43 AM
Jason Pominville had a goal and set up another for the Sabres, who have won two straight and three of their last four games.
Tyler Ennis collected two assists and Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, which maintained a three-point lead over Carolina for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Every game is going to be real tight," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said of the stretch run. "We're going to have to play real sound defensively."
Sergei Samsonov and Evgeny Dadonov tallied for Florida, which was dealt its fourth consecutive loss. Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 shots in defeat.
Buffalo grabbed a 1-0 lead 83 seconds into the contest. A goalmouth scramble ensued after Vokoun turned away Andrej Sekera's wrister from the point. Florida defenseman Keaton Ellerby pushed Thomas Vanek into Vokoun, who was unable to stop Pominville from jamming the puck home.
Florida then snapped its goal drought as Samsonov picked off a pass from a stumbling Tyler Myers and whipped a backhander past Miller at 4:01 of the first period.
The Panthers had been blanked through the first two games of a five-game road trip. Florida was coming off Wednesday's 4-0 loss at Chicago after beginning its swing with a 1-0 setback against the New York Rangers a day earlier.
Just as they did in the opening frame, the Sabres struck in the early stages of the second period. Brad Boyes took a feed from Ennis and threw the puck towards the front of the net to Stafford, who redirected it behind Vokoun to put Buffalo up 2-1 at 2:33.
Jordan Leopold and Stafford scored 13 seconds apart midway through the third period to give the Sabres a 4-1 lead. Leopold's tally came with Florida down a skater.
Dadonov lit the lamp with 2.5 seconds left in regulation.
"We didn't take advantage of our chances," Vokoun said. "We weren't able to put it in when it mattered."
Florida forward David Booth was struck in the face by a puck in the first period and didn't return for the start of the second...Buffalo and Florida split the four-game season series.
- FLORIDA: 2
Mar 25 9:58 PM
- Florida Goal - Evgeni Dadonov, at 19:56.
Panthers 2, Sabres 4 3rd - 0:04Mar 25 9:58 PM
- Buffalo Goal - Drew Stafford (28), at 9:56.
Panthers 1, Sabres 4 3rd - 10:04Mar 25 9:41 PM
- Buffalo Goal - Jordan Leopold, at 9:43.
Panthers 1, Sabres 3 3rd - 10:17Mar 25 9:40 PM
- FLORIDA: 1
End of 2nd
Mar 25 9:04 PM
- Buffalo Goal - Drew Stafford (27), from Brad Boyes and Tyler Ennis at 2:33.
Panthers 1, Sabres 2 2nd - 17:27Mar 25 8:31 PM
- FLORIDA: 1
End of 1st
Mar 25 8:11 PM
- Florida Goal - Sergei Samsonov (13), at 4:01.
Panthers 1, Sabres 1 1st - 15:59Mar 25 7:44 PM
- Andrej Sekera wrist shot on Tomas Vokoun.
Panthers 0, Sabres 1 1st - 18:39Mar 25 7:39 PM
- FLORIDA: 0
1st Period - 20:00
Mar 25 7:38 PM
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