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NHL Game Summary - Florida at Buffalo

(Thursday, December 14th)

Final Score: Buffalo 2, Florida 1

Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Maxim Afinogenov's power-play goal early in the third period provided the difference and strong goaltending by Ryan Miller paved the way for a 2-1 Buffalo victory over the Florida Panthers at HSBC Arena.

Thomas Vanek also scored for Buffalo, which returned home after a five-game road trip that produced a 3-2 record. Miller made 32 saves for the Sabres, who will host Northeast Division rival Ottawa on Saturday.

Jozef Stumpel tallied the lone goal for Florida, which has lost four straight games (0-3-1) and 10 of its last 12 overall (2-8-2). Ed Belfour allowed two goals on 16 shots in the loss.

With the score tied 1-1 late in the second period, the Sabres gained a 5-on-3 advantage when Gary Roberts and Jay Bouwmeester were called for minor penalties 18 seconds apart in the final minute of the stanza. The two-man advantage carried over in the third period and the Sabres cashed in.

Daniel Briere held control along the left half-wall and fed the puck to Chris Drury at the left post. Drury, facing away from the net, then sent a blind backhand pass across the crease, where Afinogenov sent a blazing one-timer underneath the crossbar at the 1:19 mark.

"He (Drury) probably knew I was going to be there, because it was set up like that." said Afinogenov. "I was on the far side, and he just put the puck there and I threw the puck in."

The Panthers produced 12 shots on goal in the third period, but could not beat Miller. Their best scoring chance came midway through the session when Olli Jokinen released a slap shot from the low slot. Moments later, another shot from in close by Martin Gelinas was stopped by Miller. Florida had two power- play chances in the third period, but the Sabres defense and Miller held on for the one-goal win.

"I was happy with (holding the lead)," said Miller. "We've played some tight games and we've let some leads like that go in the third period. It was a great job by our team pushing them to the outside."

Following a scoreless first period, Vanek's 18th goal at 4:20 of the second gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead. Afinogenov held control along the right half-wall and fed a pass into the slot for Derek Roy, who softly redirected the disc in an effort to pass it toward the goal mouth. Vanek was in perfect position at the top of the crease and spun around with the puck before his low wrister beat Belfour.

"The play to Vanek was an excellent play, an excellent look," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.

Less than three minutes later, the Panthers made it 1-1. After a dump-in, the puck drifted into the left corner along the rear boards, and strong forechecking by Rostislav Olesz led to a loose puck along the goal line. Stumpel swooped in, corralled the disc and beat Miller with a snap shot with 12:58 remaining in the period.

Game Notes

Buffalo leads the season series, 2-1...The Sabers finished 1-for-7 on the power play and held the visitors scoreless on their five chances with the extra skater...Afinogenov now has 14 goals this season..Attendance was 18,690.

12/15 00:49:00 ET

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