In years past, the Panthers would have been happy with a win no matter how it came about.
On Thursday, the Panthers didn’t seem to be celebrating despite a 3-2 victory over visiting Buffalo.
Florida, despite three wins in its first four games, figures it can be better — and probably has to be as the season moves on.
“I think we were more lucky than good,” said Jaromir Jagr, who scored Florida’s first two goals for a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
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“We’ll take it, but we’ll need to be better Saturday to beat Dallas.”
Jagr gave the Panthers their initial lead as he scored his 205th power play goal — passing Wayne Gretzky on the all-time list and tying Joe Sakic for 13th place.
As has been the case since Jagr joined the team last February, the line of Jagr, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau led the way.
Thursday, Jagr scored his first off a crisp pass from Barkov. His second came on a wrister from the right circle. All told, Jagr’s line ended with all three goals and had two assists.
“It’s a lot of fun playing with those guys, they are pretty skilled and keep the puck,” said Barkov, who scored what would be the game-winner 4:24 into the third.
“I just try to do the same thing. I’m having fun with them and all three of us feel pretty confident.”
Buffalo, which won its lone game of the season Monday against Columbus, cut its deficit to a goal when Jake McCabe scored from in front of the net 7:10 into the second.
Florida played a choppy second helping give the Sabres some momentum as the Panthers were called for a pair of early penalties.
The Panthers bounced back in the third with Barkov scoring his second in as many games as he knocked a Jagr deflection past goalie Chad Johnson.
Buffalo made it a one-goal game again when Tyler Ennis’ power play slapshot got past Roberto Luongo (24 saves) with 7:25 left.
Florida clamped down after that, however, to secure the victory.
It took the Panthers until Oct. 30 to get their third win last season.
“Obviously we’re trying to get some wins under our belt to get the season off to the right start,”' Luongo said.
“The worst thing we can do is get comfortable because that’s when bad things start to happen. We played good enough to win. We’ll take the two points, but it’s important we keep working on our game and get better. We have some tough teams coming up in the next week or so.”
▪ The first intermission came earlier than expected Thursday. With 2:53 left in the first period, Buffalo’s Evander Kane drove Erik Gudbranson into the end boards.
The impact caved in one of the boards, causing a delay to repair the damage.
Instead of having the two teams sit it out and wait, the on-ice officials called for an early intermission.
When the two teams returned to the ice, they finished the final 2:53 of the first, switched sides of the ice and started the second period.
“I think it was good by the refs,”' Jagr said. “You don’t want to wait 10 minutes there then another 15 minutes. It’s not the first time something like that happened, it won’t be the last.”