The Sabres got off to a quick start in this one with the top line striking early. Sam Reinhart did some nice work behind the net to find Jack Eichel and he dished it to Jeff Skinner in front for his 25th of the season.
It was a fast paced period by both clubs. Rasmus Dahlin generated a nice opportunity on a good rush. Jonathan Huberdeau had a good chance of his own late in the period, but shot it wide.
Buffalo held a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard, but Panthers had a 9-6 lead in shots on goal after 20 minutes.
The high pace carried over into the second period.
Florida got the game even on an odd man rush. The shot deflected off the glass behind the net and Troy Brouwer banked the puck in off the leg of Carter Hutton for his seventh of the season.
A few minutes later, the Sabres responded to take the lead back. Off the draw Reinhart passed the puck to Rasmus Ristolainen. He drove the net along the boards and was able to sneak the puck by Luongo short side to make it 2-1.
RISTO SCORE GOAL— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) December 19, 2018
2-1 Buffalo pic.twitter.com/4VNQuA5WbJ
Things got a little chippy late in the period. Skinner took down Aleksander Barkov awkwardly into the boards and picked up a tripping penalty. On his next shift after the penalty he was mugged (literally) in the corner by Keith Yandle, earning himself a two-minute minor.
The Sabres held their 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Then it all fell apart for the Sabres in a five minute stretch of the third.
Barkov tied it up early by deflecting a shot by Hutton just 58 seconds into the period.
Less than three minutes later, after Dahlin fumbles the puck at the offensive blue line, he takes down Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov was awarded a penalty shot and it looked at first as though Hutton stopped it. Then the puck slowly trickled down Hutton’s pad and into the net to give the Panthers the lead.
Not done yet.
Just over a minute after that Frank Vatrano beats Marco Scandella to a rebound to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead and pretty much end the night for the Sabres.
Buffalo didn’t put up much of a fight the rest of the period and Dadonov added a late empty-net goal to give the Panthers their seventh straight win over the Sabres.
Final: Panthers 5, Sabres 2
Shots on Goal: Panthers 36 | Sabres 32
Sabres Goals: Jeff Skinner (25) and Rasmus Ristolainen (4)
Panthers Goals: Troy Brouwer (7) and Aleksander Barkov (15) (PPG), Dadonov (15, 16) and Vatrano (9)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Evgenii Dadonov (2 G, 1 A)
2. Roberto Luongo (30 saves on 32 shots)
3. Aleksander Barkov (1 G, 1 A)