Reilly Smith was the only skater to score twice, and that came with a late game empty netter, as the Florida Panthers drubbed the Sabres 7-4 on Tuesday night in Buffalo.
Florida scored the first four goals of the game and Buffalo never came within a two goal margin the rest of the way. Smith scored the first and last goals for the Panthers while adding an assist. Brian Campbell, Jussi Jokinen, Alex Petrovic, Brandon Pirri and Jaromir Jagr added tallies for the 1st place team in the Atlantic Division.
Sabres goalie Robin Lehner was pulled after Petrovic blasted a slap shot by him just 0:22 seconds into the 2nd period. Lehner finished with 8 saves on 12 shots in what was easily his worst start of the year.
Sam Reinhart scored back-to-back power play goals for the Sabres in the 2nd to cut the deficit in half. He netted a nice deflection on the first, then a criss cross passing sequence from Jack Eichel to Ryan O’Reilly to Reinhart ended with the 20 year-old getting the score off of his skate.
Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci followed up Reinhart’s goals with a great opportunity in front of the net, but put one just high on his rebound opportunity. Pirri and Jagr responded with goals before the end of the period to regain the Panthers four goal advantage.
The Sabres attempted to get back in the game in the 3rd, but the hole they dug was too deep. Evander Kane scored on a wrister from the wing halfway through the period. Then Mike Weber scored his 1st of the year on another poorly angled shot that got by Luongo to cut the lead to two again.
Buffalo had some opportunities after they pulled Chad Johnson for the man advantage, but Jamie McGinn’s shot got turned away and the puck trickled down the ice off Smith’s stick for the game’s final goal.
Petrovic and Kane had some beef between them as they threw fists on three different occasions. Kane landed better punches on the bigger Petrovic on all three occasions. The third fight ended with both parties getting tossed with game misconduct penalties.
Buffalo has to put this game behind them as they head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.