Sunrise, Fla. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres are going to sleep on Friday in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With a 3-1 regulation win in Florida over the Panthers, the blue and gold were able to take over a Wild Card spot in the process.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Sabres broke through twice in the second period in their crucial head-to-head game.
First, it was Jeff Skinner who accepted a beautiful pass from Tage Thompson for his 23rd goal of the season.
That was the first of two second period assists for Thompson. The second came on a power play, as he picked up a secondary helper on a wrist shot from the slot off the stick of Alex Tuch.
Tuch's man advantage tally was the 28th goal of the season, as he continued to build on his career-high mark.
The game remained 2-0 until the 8:24 mark of the third period of play. Florida cut their deficit in half when forward Carter Verhaeghe ripped his 31st goal of the season past Sabres goalie Craig Anderson.
The Sabres went back to work just minutes later and orchestrated another scoring shift against Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Skinner's second goal of the night, from a tough angle, made it 3-1 Sabres at the midway point of the frame.
Thompson recorded his third assist of the night on the play, as it brought his season total to 39 goals and 39 assists.
The third goal proved to be more than enough, as the Sabres weathered a late surge to emerge victorious by the 3-1 score. Anderson made 51 saves on 52 shots faced, including 24-of-25 shots in the third period.
BUF: 3:51 - Jeff Skinner (23) (Tage Thompson, Henri Jokiharju); 8:44 - Alex Tuch (28) PPG (Owen Power, Tage Thompson)
BUF: 10:36 - Jeff Skinner (24) (Tage Thompson)
FLA: 8:24 - Carter Verhaeghe (31) (Anthony Duclair, Eetu Luostarinen)
BUF: 8:38 - Peyton Krebs (Hooking - 2 min.); 10:48 - Peyton Krebs (Roughing - 2 min.)
FLA: 10:48 - Matthew Tkachuk (Roughing - 4 min.)
BUF: 10:37 - Jack Quinn (Cross-Checking - 2 min.); 13:45 - Henri Jokiharju (Interference - 2 min.); 18:10 - Rasmus Dahlin (Cross-checking - 2 min.)
FLA: 8:23 - Carter Verhaeghe (Interference - 2 min.); 10:37 - Carter Verhaeghe (Cross-checking - 2 min.)
BUF: 20:00 - TEAM (Too many men on the ice - 2 min.)
FLA: 20:00 - Matthew Tkachuk (Roughing - 2 min.)
Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Craig Anderson - BUF
2.) Jeff Skinner - BUF
3.) Tage Thompson - BUF
The blue and gold return to Buffalo to host the free-falling Washington Capitals on Sunday at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. EST with pregame coverage on WGR with Brian Koziol starting at 12 p.m. EST.