On a night matching the NHL's No. 1 power play against its top-ranked penalty killers, the scorers got the upper hand on the defenders.
The Buffalo Sabres got goals from Ryan O'Reilly and captain Brian Gionta on their first two power plays and held on for a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers Monday before 18,564 in KeyBank Center. Buffalo has won two straight games and four of its last five.
The Sabres entered the game atop the league at 24.5 percent while the Panthers were at 86.1 percent on the PK -- and were 36 for their last 40. Buffalo finished 2 for 3.
Striking first: The Sabres went to power play at 1:25 of the first period on Jakub Kindl's tripping penalty and had five shots on goal on the man-advantage. The fifth one came with four seconds left on the penalty as Ryan O'Reilly drove a Jack Eichel rebound to the top corner past Florida goalie James Reimer. It was O'Reilly's 19th goal of the season.
Second of game, second of season: Zach Bogosian made it 2-0 at 14:06 of the first, going hard to the net to get his own rebound. His first shot went off the far goal post but Bogosian got to the puck first and jammed it through James Reimer's leg. It was his second goal of the season; the first was an overtime winner Jan. 21 in Montreal.
The Captain celebrates: Gionta mde it 3-0 at 1:25 of the second, banking a puck home off Florida defenseman Jason Demers, who was standing in the crease. The goal came exactly a minute after Jonathan Huberdeau went off for tripping.
Spirit of 1,000 I: Gionta became the 10th player to appear in his 1,000th career game and the first for the Sabres since Mike Grier on Nov. 3, 2010. The others were Dick Duff (1971), Gilbert Perreault (1984), Craig Ramsay (1984), Don Lever (1986), Phil Russell (1986), Dale Hawerchuk (1995), Charlie Huddy (1996) and James Patrick (1999).
Spirit of 1,000 II: Gionta became the third Sabres player to score in his 1,000th game. The others were Perreault vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 29, 1984 and Russell at Chicago on March 12, 1986. Russell, who played his first seven years for the Blackhawks, played the final 18 games of his 1,016-game career on defense with Buffalo over the '85-86 and '86-87 seasons.
Lots of help: Eichel and Matt Moulson each had two assists in the game. That improved Eichel to a point-a-game player for the season with 55 points in 55 games. He has 32 assists, matching his total over 81 games last year.
Panthers strike: Florida's Jonathan Marchessault scored his 29th of the season on a power play at 10:19 of the second, sweeping home a one-timer off a quick Jonathan Huberdeau pass.
Sabres get a gift: Marcus Foligno put the Sabres up 4-1 at 15:08 of the second with a wrist shot from a bad angle in the left circle. It was his 13th of the season. Panthers goalie James Reimer got yanked after that one in favor of Reto Berra. Reimer gave up four goals on 22 shots.
Panthers strike again: Ageless Jaromir Jagr bothered Evan Rodrigues near the goal line and the Buffalo rookie lost the puck in front of Huberdeau, who pulled it around Lehner with 3:50 left in the second to get the Panthers within 4-2.
No goal I: Zemgus Girgensons scored an apparent goal with 1:00 left in the second to make it 5-2 but it was wiped out on video replay for what was ruled as a kicking motion. Girgensons was getting hauled down by Nick Bjugstad and the puck went in off his foot but the Sabres were furious with the call. The entire bench erupted when it was announced and alternate captain Josh Gorges accosted referee Brian Pochmarra for several seconds after the horn.
No goal II: The Panthers had a huge chance to get within a goal with 14:37 left but Reilly Smith was stopped on a penalty shot by Robin Lehner. Lehner -- who has not made a save in a shootout situation all season -- snuffed out Smith's deke by deflecting the puck with his left wrist.
Up Next: The Sabres play Tuesday night in Columbus, their third meeting against the Blue Jackets in 19 days. The teams split the first two. They don't play again until they host the New York Islanders here Sunday at 3.