The point streak ended at four games for the Buffalo Sabres as they dropped a 7-4 decision to the Florida Panthers in First Niagara Center Tuesday night.
The Sabres dug themselves a deep hole with poor defense and never could recover. Florida scored three goals in the first period and added a fourth just 22 seconds into the second to build a 4-0 lead and chase starting goaltender Robin Lehner from the net.
Rookie Sam Reinhart made it a game for a while in the second period, scoring two power play goals to cut the lead to 4-2. But Flordai would regain momentum with two goals on backup Chad Johnson to take a commanding 6-2 lead into the final period.
Evander Kane scored a wrist shot from a difficult angle, getting the puck through the Florida defense to make it a 6-3 game. The Sabres made it interesting when Mike Weber scored with 2:43 left in regulation. But an empty netter with 1:57 left sealed the game for Florida.
First goal: The Panthers took a 1-0 at 7:40 of the opening period. A turnover by Rasmus Ristolainen near his own blue line gave the Panthers control of the puck. Some quick passing through the Sabres defense landed the puck on Reilly Smith's stick and he ripped a shot off the crossbar and past Robin Lehner.
Bad omen: Florida is now 27-3-4 when scoring first.
And then it was two: Just three minutes later Brian Campbell gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead when his shot to Lehner's right bounced through his legs.
Make it three: The Sabres defense fell asleep in the final minute, getting out chased to the puck in their own zone. Jussi Jokinen was alone in front of Lehner and easily put it past him for a 3-0 lead with 24.6 seconds left in the first.
Chasing Lehner: Just 22 seconds into the second period, Nick Bjugstad won the faceoff back to Alex Petrovic whose slapshot cleanly beat Lehner. That was it for the goaltender who was then replaced by Chad Johnson.
On the board: Sam Reinhart scored at 1:09 of the second on the power play. Alone at the side of Roberto Luongo, he picked up the puck after a shot from Ristolainen went off the end boards and then jammed it at the near post. It was Reinhart's third straight game with a goal.
And again: Reinhart scored again the power play at 5:04 redirecting a shot from Ryan O'Reilly. The play was quickly reviewed as the puck was directed off Reinhart's skate and the goal was upheld. That cut Florida's lead to 4-2.
Rookies: With those two power-play goals Reinhart tied Jack Eichel for the rookie lead in power-play goals with six. He also tied Eichel for third in the NHL in rookie goal scoring with 16 on the season and is tied for seventh in overall rookie scoring.
Momentum is a fickle friend: Just as the Sabres had generated some energy in First Niagara Center and a bit of mojo, Florida countered with a goal. Brandon Pirri tipped a Brian Campbell shot past Chad Johnson for a 5-2 Panthers' lead.
Ageless: Jaromir Jagr made it a 6-2 game scoring with 2:07 left in the second. The 43-year old slid right behind Zach Bogosian to take a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and let go a wrist shot in one motion. It was Jagr's 739th career goal moving him within two of Brett Hull (741) for 3rd on NHL’s all-time list.
Tuesday Fight Night: Evander Kane and Alex Petrovic had some bad blood boiling during the game. They fought three times. Two came in the second and after Round 2 Kane held up two fingers on the way to the box to indicate he had won both bouts. They went again with 7:57 left in the third at center ice, removing their helmets and going at it. Kane won again and both players received a game misconduct.
That's a wrap: Tuesday was the fourth and final meeting between the Panthers and Sabres this season. Florida wins the series 3-1.
Scratches: Injured forward Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons were scratched while defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was a healthy scratch. The Panthers scratched forwards Aleksander Barkov, Corban Knight and Dave Bolland.
Counting the house: Attendance was 18.521 at First Niagara Center.
Up next: The Sabres play at Philadelphia on Thursday and return to Buffalo on Friday to host Montreal.