NHL Game Summary - Florida at Buffalo
(Wednesday, March 25th)
Final Score: Buffalo 5, Florida 3
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Jason Pominville registered a goal and two assists, as the Sabres used a four-goal third period to rally past the slumping Florida Panthers, 5-3, at HSBC Arena.
"It shows you got to keep battling," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "You got to keep the hope."
Craig Rivet, Clarke MacArthur, Maxim Afinogenov and Tim Connolly also found the net for Buffalo, which halted a four-game slide. The Sabres are five points behind Montreal in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Mikael Tellqvist made 30 saves in the win.
Brett McLean, Richard Zednik and Michael Frolik lit the lamp for Florida, which has dropped seven of eight and remains two points behind the Canadiens. Tomas Vokoun gave up four goals on 44 shots in the loss.
The Panthers haven't qualified for the postseason since 2000, when the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils swept them in the first round.
Because Florida lost, Washington clinched a playoff spot for the second straight season.
The visitors regained the lead with 5:05 remaining in the middle stanza on a goal by Zednik, and Frolik made it 3-1 at 3:25 of the third period.
However, Buffalo lit the lamp twice in a 51-second span to erase the two- goal deficit. Pominville scored on a redirection at 6:14, then MacArthur let fly a slap shot through the legs of Vokoun.
Connolly gave the Sabres their first lead of the game on the power play, ripping a shot from the left point that went off the stick of Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and sailed over the glove of Vokoun at 8:21.
Afinogenov sealed the come-from-behind win with an empty-netter in the final minute.
"The goalie's got to close the door when you're in that situation," said Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer. "He didn't."
Standing off to the right of Tellqvist, an uncovered McLean reached out with the stick and deflected Jassen Cullimore's shot from the point behind the Buffalo netminder 9:31 into the contest.
Florida center Gregory Campbell committed the first penalty of the game inside the final minute of the opening frame and Buffalo's power play quickly went to work. Cullimore sacrificed the body to block a one-timer from Derek Roy. The puck, though, slid over to Rivet drifting in from the left point and the Buffalo captain buried it past Vokoun with 13.3 seconds remaining in the first period.
Ruff announced Wednesday that goaltender Ryan Miller is scheduled to be back in the lineup on Friday when Buffalo hosts Toronto. Miller has missed the last 13 games with a high ankle sprain suffered in a game on February 21 against the Rangers...Florida will visit Philadelphia on Thursday...Buffalo improved to 5-21-2 when trailing after two periods.
03/25 23:58:19 ET