The Buffalo Sabres could not hold onto a four-goal lead against the Florida Panthers, leading to a 7-4 defeat on Thursday night at FLA Live Arena.
Early work from Aaron Dell to keep the game scoreless resulted in a 1-0 lead for the Sabres less than four minutes into the game. The goaltender stopped Jonathan Huberdeau on a breakaway, but Henri Jokiharju was whistled for hooking on the play.
Shortly after the man advantage was over, Rasmus Dahlin fed Vinnie Hinostroza with a pass that helped the forward score his third goal of the season. Dahlin and Cody Eakin were credited with the assists on the game's first goal.
Dylan Cozens doubled the Sabres lead to 2-0 midway through the opening stanza after Kyle Okposo helped create a turnover. Cozens beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a wrist shot from the slot for his seventh goal of the year. Okposo picked up the lone assist.
Hinostroza's second goal of the night came on a rebound attempt and extended the Sabres lead to 3-0 late in the first. He was able to finish off the chance created by Cozens' cross-ice pass after beating Joe Thornton along the goal line.
Dell made 13 saves in the opening 20 minutes against the Panthers to keep Buffalo in front 3-0. The Sabres did not have a power play chance in the first.
Lucas Carlsson got the Panthers on the score sheet with his first goal of the season. The defenseman was credited with the goal nearly ten minutes into the second period, trimming Florida's deficit to 3-1.
However, just moments later Casey Mittelstadt scored his first goal of the year to give Buffalo a 4-1 lead. The goal chased Bobrovsky who made eight saves on 12 shots, with Spencer Knight taking over in net.
Sam Reinhart was able to score against his former team and bring Florida back within a pair of goals, 4-2. Carlsson again took the shot from the point that was tipped past Dell.
Aaron Ekblad's seventh goal of the season came with just over four minutes remaining in the middle frame to narrow Buffalo's lead to a goal, 4-3. Huberdeau and Reinhart were credited with the assists on the goal, giving each player three points on the night.
The defenseman scored his second goal of the night just over a minute into the third period to tie the game 4-4. It was an even strength goal just after the Sabres killed off a carry over penalty from the second.
Florida was able to capitalize on a frenetic sequence at both ends of the ice, resulting in a 5-4 lead for the home team. The Sabres thought they had a go-ahead goal with an open net, but a Panthers defender was able to swipe the puck away before it crossed the goal line.
At the other end, Anton Lundell did not miss for his fourth goal of the year. Carter Verhaeghe was credited with the only assist.
The Sabres could not solve Knight, despite a pair of third period power play chances. The Florida net minder stopped all 19 shots he faced, including 18 in the final period.
The Panthers scored a pair of empty-net goals to defeat Buffalo by three goals. Huberdeau and Lundell scored the final goals of the night for six unanswered goals by Florida.
BUF: 3:21 - Vinnie Hinostroza (3) (Rasmus Dahlin, Cody Eakin)
7:41 - Dylan Cozens (7) (Kyle Okposo)
14:25 - Vinnie Hinostroza (4) (Dylan Cozens)
BUF: 11:16 - Casey Mittelstadt (1) (Rasmus Asplund, Heri Jokiharju)
FLA: 9:57 -Lucas Carlsson (1) (Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart)
12:32 - Sam Reinhart (7) (Lucas Carlsson, Jonathan Huberdeau)
15:40 - Aaron Ekblad (7) (Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart)
FLA: 1:07 - Aaron Ekblad (8) PPG (Sam Bennett, MacKenzie Weegar)
8:05 - Anton Lundell (4) (Carter Verheaghe, Aaron Ekblad)
18:37 - Jonathan Huberdeau (8) ENG (Sam Reinhart)
19:55 - Anton Lundell (5) (MacKenzie Weegar, Carter Vereaghe)
BUF: 1:09 - Henri Jokiharju (2 min., hooking)
BUF: 18:13 - Mark Pysyk (2 min., roughing)
18:54 - Kyle Okposo, (2 min., unsportsmanlike conduct)
19:53 - Henri Jokiharju (2 min., hooking)
FLA: 18:54 - Patric Horngvist (2 min., unsportsmanlike conduct)
FLA: 3:57 - Jonathan Huberdeau (2 min., tripping)
8:53 - Aaron Ekblad (2 min., holding)
16:15 - Eetu Luostarinen (2 min., delay of game)
Losi and Gangi Three Stars
1. Jonathan Huberdeau
2. Aaron Ekblad
3. Sam Reinhart
The blue and gold finish out the quick two-game road trip on Saturday night in the Tarheel State. Buffalo and the Carolina Hurricanes are scheduled to drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550. Pregame coverage with Brian Koziol begins at 6:30 p.m.