The Sabres snapped a three-game losing streak with a strong, gritty effort at KeyBank Center on Thursday night in a 4-3 win. Jeff Skinner paved the way with a two-goal night and dominating play.
The Sabres came out motivated, peppering Roberto Luongo early and often. Buffalo got on the board first with a gorgeous goal by Skinner, who deked through the Panthers defense in the middle and got a wrist shot by the left side of Luongo.
— Buffalo Hockey moments (@SabresPlays) January 4, 2019
Tage Thompson added another Sabres goal less than four minutes later on a partial break up the right side where he got a good shot by Luongo while shaking off the defense.
Buffalo had a noticeable physical presence compared to the previous few games and played like a team that knew it needed a win to gain some breathing room in the standings.
Buffalo’s penalty kill was superb for the most part, especially in the second period when the game was tight.
Linus Ullmark made some timely saves and had a great clear on the penalty kill to keep the game at 2-0. Unfortunately, the Panthers got on the board over halfway into the second period on a controversial 2-on-1 play where Keith Yandle interfered with Rasmus Dahlin when he tried to re-enter the play.
Sam Reinhart gave the Sabres some breathing room just 1:42 into the third period on a deflection from the point shot by Lawrence Pilut to put the Sabres up, 3-1.
The game got progressively chippy throughout, and by the third period, both sides were taking liberties against each other. Buffalo had a two-man advantage thanks to a bad trip by former Sabre Mark Pysyk, followed by a heavy slash from Aaron Ekblad on Skinner. Even though the Sabres didn’t score they matched Florida’s physicality to preserve the lead.
The Sabres regained a two-goal lead on a great break by Skinner, who snuck a shot by Luongo.
— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) January 4, 2019
From there, Buffalo weathered the Panthers out for remaining minutes to win, 4-3, despite a late Panthers goal by Aleksander Barkov.
Buffalo’s win keeps them tied with the Boston Bruins for the third spot in the Atlantic Division, giving them 50 points in 41 games. The Sabres faceoff against the Bruins with an opportunity to swap places in the standings tthis Saturday at 7 p.m. in Boston.