Panthers 2, Sabres 1 (SO)

Florida Panthers top Sabres with a wild shootout

 

Brad Boyes scored the winning goal after Jonathan Huberdeau’s tally in the shootout was disallowed as Florida rallied past Buffalo.

 

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain (4) shoots the puck at Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas (34) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain (4) shoots the puck at Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas (34) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.
Gary Wiepert / AP

From Miami Herald Wire Services

Brad Boyes scored in regulation and the shootout, lifting the Panthers over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Thursday night.

Buffalo was playing its first game under general manager Tim Murray and special adviser Craig Patrick, introduced earlier Thursday by team president Pat LaFontaine.

Tim Thomas made 23 saves and was perfect in the shootout for Florida, which won on the road for the first time since Dec. 19.

Jhonas Enroth made 34 saves and Jamie McBain scored for Buffalo, which is 6-0-2 in its past eight home games.

Jonathan Huberdeau appeared to put the Panthers in front during the shootout but was ruled to have pushed Enroth’s pad across the line, and and Boyes’ game-winner was nearly disallowed as well.

“It was a weird game,’’ Boyes said. “We found a way. We stuck with it.

“... Big points. We need points, so this was good.’’

Florida carried much of the play, outshooting Buffalo 35-24, and it took the game’s first four shots.

Thomas stopped a one-timer from Brayden McNabb about five minutes into the game.

Buffalo had the game’s first power play after an interference call against Ed Jovanovski, and Thomas made a sprawling save on Jamie McBain to keep the game scoreless.

After play was whistled dead because of a scrum in Florida’s crease, John Scott tossed the puck in the net and received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Enroth stopped a shot by Alexander Barkov on the ensuing power play and made 13 saves in the period as Buffalo was outshot by five.

Buffalo broke through in the second period when McBain streaked into the slot to collect Steve Ott’s pass and fired low past Thomas’ right pad at the 5:13 mark.

Brian Flynn had a breakaway moments later, but Thomas smothered the shot to keep the deficit 1-0.

Florida nearly equalized at the start of the third period. Tomas Fleischmann had the puck in front of Enroth and used a deft move to get the goalie moving but backhanded the puck off the post.

The Panthers finally beat Enroth at the 8:16 mark, after a weak clearance attempt by Alexander Sulzer. Enroth was slow to get up and Tom Gilbert took a slap shot that grazed Boyes, an ex-Sabre, on its way into the goal.

Florida had a goal disallowed when play was blown dead because of an injury to defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the Panthers zone.

Thomas made a sliding stop on Brian Flynn in overtime.

Florida defenseman Brian Campbell played in his 800th career NHL game.

New Sabres hires

Earlier in the day, Sabres president Pat LaFontaine’s two-month search for a general manager ended with an unexpected addition.

In hiring Murray to take over as GM on Thursday, LaFontaine also announced the addition of Hockey Hall of Fame executive Patrick to serve as a special adviser to assist in transforming the NHL’s worst team into a contender.

“It’s comfortable for me to be in the middle, having played center my whole life,” LaFontaine said, seated between Murray and Patrick. “To have these wingers is pretty special.”

Murray has the background, decisiveness and even a hockey pedigree LaFontaine was seeking in a general manager. The 50-year-old Murray is the nephew of Senators general manager Bryan Murray, and has spent much of his 20 years in the NHL being mentored by his uncle, including the past seven in Ottawa as an assistant GM.

“I think we have the next great eye for talent,” LaFontaine said. “He’s earned it. He’s done every job to get to this point. He’s had success everywhere he’s been.’’

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

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