NHL Game Summary - Florida at Buffalo
(Thursday, December 23rd)
Final Score: Florida 4, Buffalo 3
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Jason Garrison scored the game-winning goal late in the third period as Florida blew a three-goal lead but bounced back to beat Buffalo, 4-3, at HSBC Arena.
Chris Higgins tallied twice and Stephen Weiss added a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four games.
Tomas Vokoun turned aside 45 shots, including all 19 he faced in the final period, to earn the win for Florida, which beat Buffalo six days ago to begin its recent run of success.
Jordan Leopold potted a pair of goals and Jason Pominville added a goal and a helper for the Sabres, who have dropped three out of four and four of their last six games.
Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots in defeat and remains one win shy of 200 for his career.
Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers made a spin move inside the Florida blueline and as he approached the top of the right circle lost his footing, fell down and coughed up the puck. Garrison carried down the right side on a 2-on-1 and wristed a shot that beat Miller to the short side with 5:07 to play to give the visitors the lead back at 4-3.
Brian McCabe of the Panthers went off for a penalty with 1:26 left and the Sabres pulled Miller for the final minute. Vokoun made the biggest save of the final 60 seconds on Drew Stafford from point blank range.
Higgins got the scoring started 70 seconds into the game when he swatted a rebound of an Evgeny Dadonov shot out of mid-air past Miller. The call was upheld after a replay review.
The Panthers took advantage of their second two-man advantage of the opening period with just under eight minutes remaining to make it a 2-0 game. McCabe passed from the right point to the lower left circle from where Michael Frolik slid a cross-ice pass to Weiss, who wristed the disc over a diving Miller.
The Panthers added to their lead 1:43 later when Higgins collected a rebound in the slot and beat Miller with a backhander.
"I got my say after the first period for a good period of time," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "What's more important is when they walk out of the room, what they say to each other."
Buffalo appeared to have scored early in the middle stanza on a Tyler Ennis stuffer that prompted the goal judge to put the red light on, though the on- ice officials never indicated goal and play continued.
Less than two minutes later, Leopold finished off a 3-on-2 rush as the trailer by snapping a shot past Vokoun from the top of left circle. A video review determined that Ennis did not score, so Leopold's tally put the hosts on the board at 5:44.
Pominville's power play wrister from the right circle sliced the lead to 3-2 before Myers sprung Leopold on a breakaway down the middle and he beat Vokoun with a wrister high to the blocker side to even the game at 12:21.
"Instead of playing to win the game, we started playing to hold the lead," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We've done that before and that doesn't work for us."
Vokoun earned his seventh career win over the Sabres...Higgins has 12 goals in 29 career games versus Buffalo...McCabe has scored a point in five straight games...Miller is 9-7-0 in 16 career games against the Panthers...The Sabres have scored a power play goal in 17 of their last 19 games versus Florida. Leopold's goals were his first two against the Panthers in seven career games. He also had a two-goal game against the Rangers earlier this season on October 9...Buffalo center Derek Roy left the game with an undisclosed injury.
12/24 00:42:51 ET