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(Thursday, March 28th)
Final Score: Florida 5, Buffalo 4 (SO)
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Mike Santorelli scored the game winner in the fourth round of the shootout to lift the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday at BB&T Center.
Jason Pominville started the shootout with a marker for the Sabres, but after the next two shooters missed, Jonathan Huberdeau lit the lamp with a slick move to bring the Panthers even.
The next three shooters each came up empty before Santorelli skated in and avoided a Ryan Miller stick check before lifting a wrister over the prone Buffalo netminder to end the Panthers' three-game skid.
Shawn Matthias scored twice, Huberdeau finished with a goal and an assist, and Tomas Fleischmann added a power-play goal for the Panthers, who remain last in the Eastern Conference with 26 points. Jacob Markstrom posted 36 saves.
Drew Stafford, a healthy scratch over the last two games, recorded a goal and an assist, while Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera and Marcus Foligno each scored once for the Sabres, who have lost two straight and sit four points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Miller made 36 saves.
"Obviously we didn't get the start we wanted, fell behind and kept composure and bounced back into the game, but again it's unfortunate to give up a lead," Pominville said. "Again, it's one of those one-goal games that we have to find a way to win."
Matthias opened the scoring 3:28 into the game when he put home a rebound off a Tyson Strachan point shot, while Fleischmann's power-play marker 43 seconds into the second staked the Panthers to a 2-0 lead.
Gerbe's fourth of the season cut the margin in half just 53 seconds later before the Sabres scored a pair of goals late in the frame to take the lead.
The first came at the 14:56 mark when the Panthers turned the puck over in their own zone and the disc ended up in the high slot, where Sekera recovered it before firing a shot that hit a Florida stick in front and skipped past Markstrom to knot the game.
Stafford then made it a 3-2 margin with 56 seconds left in the frame when he tipped in Christian Ehrhoff's blast from above the right circle, but Matthias' second of the night evened things early in the third, as he pounded home a rebound off a Peter Mueller blast at the 5:23 mark.
Foligno's tip-in, power-play tally at 11:33 put the Sabres back in front, but the lead didn't last long, as Mueller found a cutting Huberdeau for a one- timer from in front just 2:18 later to knot the game at 4-4.
"It was an important goal in the third to tie the game," Huberdeau said. "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."
Neither netminder was tested much in overtime, with Miller posting two saves and Markstrom making three stops.
The Sabres were without leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who left Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury ... Florida has won two of the three meetings this season, including a 4-3 win in Buffalo on Feb. 3 ... Brian Campbell and Mueller each finished with two assists for the Panthers ... Florida went 2-for-5 on the power play, while Buffalo finished 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
03/29 01:42:09 ET
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