May 18, 2022

The Panthers beat the Sabers 5-3 to clinch a playoff berth

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — Jonathan Huberdeau set Florida’s single-season points record, and the Panthers clinched a playoff berth with a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabers on Sunday.

Huberdeau scored his 24th goal to extend his points streak to eight games and take his season tally to 97, one more than teammate Aleksander Barkov’s record set in 2019.

Anthony Duclair scored twice as the Panthers (48-15-6) set a franchise record for wins. Winning for the seventh time in eight games, Florida capped a two-game road trip improving to 20-9-6 on the road.

MacKenzie Weegar had a goal and an assist for Florida. Anton Lundell also scored and Spencer Knight made 26 saves. Barkov and Claude Giroux each had two assists.

Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the Sabers, who are on course to miss the playoffs for an NHL record 11th straight season. Tage Thompson and Kyle Okposo also scored and Dustin Tokarski stopped 35 shots.

Buffalo lost an eight-game point streak (5-0-3), its longest in three seasons. The Sabers will be eliminated from the playoffs with another loss or a win by the Washington Capitals.

The Sabers closed at 4-3 on power-play goals from Skinner and Thompson 1:54 apart in the third period. Skinner pushed his 28th from inside the crease at 8:25. Then he sent a backhand pass between his legs to Thompson, who scored his 31st from the right slot at 10:19.

But Weegar helped close the game with a power-play goal for the Panthers with 1:35 left.

After recovering from a four-goal deficit for a 7-6 overtime win over New Jersey on Friday night, the NHL’s top-scoring team went on the offense in second scoring three times while beating Buffalo 22-8.

Lundell got the nod, notching a rebound for his 15th with 4:05 left in the period.

Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton (19) comes under pressure from Buffalo Sabers defenseman Mark Pysyk (13) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2022, at Buffalo, NY

Duclair made it 3-1 when he scored 1:06 later on a pass from Gustav Forsling. Barkov extended his scoring streak to four games with a backhand pass leading to Duclair’s 28th goal less than a minute into the third.

Huberdeau’s tying goal 6:18 into the second was generated by Giroux’s forecheck. He collected the puck from Sabers defenseman Jacob Bryson before feeding Huberdeau into the high notch.

Okposo put the Sabers ahead late in the first, redirecting Mattias Samuelsson’s point shot for his 18th goal.

TO NOTE

Panthers forward Joe Thornton replaced Maxim Mamin on the fourth line after being knocked out in Friday’s win over the Devils. … Defenseman Robert Hagg played in Buffalo for the first time since being traded to Florida two weeks ago. … Forward Sam Bennett went to the locker room in the first period after being elbowed in the face by Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin, but returned for the start of the second. … Sabers forward Alex Tuch recorded his 100th NHL assist on Skinner’s goal.

FOLLOWING

Panthers: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Sabers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

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