It wasn’t the prettiest goal Sean Bergenheim ever scored, but the Panthers are far from being choosy.
When you score as little as Florida has this season, every goal is beautiful.
Friday night, Bergenheim’s odd-angled wrister and Roberto Luongo’s big play in net lifted the Panthers to their first win of the young season, a 1-0 victory over the host Buffalo Sabres.
“Well, it worked,’’ said Bergenheim, who quickly pulled the trigger on a pass from Brad Boyes early in the second.
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“I think we got better and we’re trying to get better every day. But we’re not there yet.’’
Florida, which has four goals in its four games this season, is 1-2-1.
Buffalo has yet to win at home this year and looks like it could finish last in the NHL again this season.
The Panthers came hard after Buffalo but failed to score in the opening period despite outshooting the Sabres 16-3.
Florida took a lead for just the second time this season on Bergenheim’s shot.
Before that, Florida had held a lead for just 2:09 after taking a 1-0 advantage in the opener last week in Tampa.
Luongo, who shut out the Sabres twice last season including once here while with the Canucks exactly a year ago, did the rest.
“We played a great game, a solid 60 minutes,’’ said Luongo, who stared down a 5-on-3 disadvantage late in the third. “We had a great first period, didn’t score, but carried the momentum into the second. We didn’t change our game plan and held down the fort in the third. We needed this kind of win, get it out of the way.’’
Luongo stopped all 26 shots faced and earned the team’s “hero’’ jacket, which is an old wool Army coat picked up during its trip to West Point.
Last year, Luongo shut out the Sabres with 25 saves in what was his return to the Panthers on March7.
“I thought we controlled the game in the first half,’’ said coach Gerard Gallant, who earned his first win as coach of the Panthers.
“You get worried when you don’t get chances and we had plenty in that game. When you only have three goals coming in, you can be a little nervous. But you know if you get chances, they’ll go in eventually.’’
▪ With the shutout, Luongo passed former Montreal and Colorado great Patrick Roy on the all-time list. Roy is now the coach of the Avs, who play host to the Panthers on Tuesday.
Luongo has 67 career shutouts, placing him in a tie with Roy Worters for 13th all-time. Lorne Chabot and Harry Lumley (71 each) are next on the list.
“I’m just focused in trying to get some wins here,’’ Luongo said. “Those kind of records are the things you look back on when it’s said and done. It’s nice to have, but there are things more important right now.’’
▪ Center Dave Bolland appeared to collide with teammate Tomas Kopecky at the end of Friday’s game and limped off the ice.
If Bolland misses Saturday’s game, Brandon Pirri would likely center Florida’s third line. Pirri has been a healthy scratch the past four games.
▪ Florida’s Aaron Ekblad and Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart met for the first time in an NHL game after the duo went 1-2 in the draft last June.
Although Florida and Buffalo hook up a few more times, Reinhart isn’t expected to be with the Sabres much longer.
Reinhart, who played just one shift in the third period Friday, could be back with his junior team in the coming weeks.
Saturday: Panthers at Capitals
When/where: 7 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington.
TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.
The series: Washington leads 58-44-9.
Noteworthy: Washington has won 10 of the past 13 games. Florida, playing in its first back-to-back set of the season, hasn’t won in D.C. since 2010. Gerard Gallant said Al Montoya would start in net.