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Buffalo at Florida

Miller, Sabres handle Panthers for back-to-back wins

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

SUNRISE, Fla. -- They weren't necessarily pretty goals, but the Buffalo Sabres will take what they can get.

Jochen Hecht, Patrick Kaleta and Mike Grier each scored to lift the Sabres to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1z-Pittsburgh487233
2y-Montreal486326
3y-Washington485724
4x-Boston486224
5x-Toronto485726
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
7x-Ottawa485621
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
Eliminated
9o-Winnipeg485122
10o-Philadelphia484922
11o-New Jersey484817
12o-Buffalo484814
13o-Carolina484218
14o-Tampa Bay484017
15o-Florida483612
Complete Playoff Race

Ryan Miller made 31 saves for the Northeast Division-leading Sabres, who have won two straight. Tyler Myers and Paul Gaustad both recorded two assists for Buffalo.

Byron Bitz scored the lone goal for the Panthers.

Tomas Vokoun stopped 17 shots for Florida before he was replaced by Scott Clemmensen in the second period. Vokoun was also pulled from Tuesday night's game against Washington, a 7-3 Florida loss.

"I didn't think that he was good enough. ... It wasn't a good enough first period by anybody, including our goaltender," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said.

Clemmensen finished Saturday's game with 16 saves.

The Sabres went ahead 3-1 on Grier's goal 13:49 into the third. Gaustad dug the puck out of a scrum in front of the net and Grier pushed it in.

Florida had closed the gap to 2-1 with Bitz's goal at 11:04 of the second. Bitz, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing four games because of a lower body injury, tipped in the puck from in front for his fifth of the season.

"It hit me around the shoulder or the mask area," Miller said. "Maybe I should have retreated or spread out a bit. I had the sensation maybe it was coming behind me a little bit. It landed perfectly for them."

Kaleta chased Vokoun with his goal 2:54 into the second. Vokoun came out wide of the net to reach a Buffalo shot, which then bounced off the end boards and came back out in front. Kaleta put in the rebounding puck with a wrist shot to stretch Buffalo's lead to 2-0.

"We got it to the net," Kaleta said. "That's what we've been preaching for the whole season, getting pucks to the net. Look around the league, there's a pretty goal here and there but they are mostly garbage goals and poking away."

Buffalo started the scoring on Hecht's goal with 6:34 left in the first. Hecht fired a shot from the goal line, and the puck hit Vokoun before trickling into the net.

"It seems like the ones that are in the good areas don't want to go in, but the ones that bounce off people and are in the tough areas give you a little better chance," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "Tonight was a strange one. The puck was bouncing a lot and there was a few plays you'd like to have back where the puck could have laid down better for both teams."

The Sabres and the Panthers will both play again Sunday. Florida will face in-state rival Tampa Bay at home. Buffalo will visit Carolina.

Notes
  • This was the third of four contests between the Panthers and the Sabres this season. They next face each other March 31 in Buffalo.
  • Before the game, the Panthers unveiled the South Florida Hockey Den of Honor, which showcases important figures and moments in team history. Former Florida players, including Scott Mellanby and Brian Skrudland, attended the ceremony.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Three goals is more than enough support for Ryan Miller, who stops 31 shots. (AP)
Three goals is more than enough support for Ryan Miller, who stops 31 shots. (AP)
Scoreboard
Buffalo  (38-22-10) «1113
Florida (28-31-11)0101
Three Stars
R. Miller
BUF


Saves: 31
Save Pct.: .969
P. Kaleta
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
B. Bitz
FLA


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
13:26Jochen Hecht (17), Snap Shot. Assist: Gaustad, Myers
2ND PERIOD
02:54Patrick Kaleta (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Mair, Myers
11:04Byron Bitz (5), Tip-In. Assist: Kreps, Campbell
3RD PERIOD
13:49Mike Grier (10), Tip-In. Assist: Gaustad, Ellis
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:06Garrison, 2 min, High-Sticking
11:19Garrison, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
14:19Horton, 4 min, Roughing
16:53Connolly, 2 min, Tripping
2ND PERIOD
03:37Pominville, 2 min, Hooking
07:40Vanek, 2 min, Interference
13:24Mair, 2 min, Holding
3RD PERIOD
01:54Rivet, 2 min, Hooking
10:04Vanek, 2 min, Tripping
19:35McCabe, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
Buffalo1881036
Florida5171032
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Ryan Miller60:00311
Scott Clemmensen35:43161
Tomas Vokoun22:54172
Game Information
Attendance - 18217
Referees - Brian Pochmara, Chris Rooney
Linesmen - Brad Lazarowich, Mark Shewchyk
 
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