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Reinhart leads Sabres in 3-2 win over Panthers

Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart (23) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — After making moves to bolster their injury-depleted forward group, the Buffalo Sabres found some sorely needed secondary scoring.

Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist, and Buffalo beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Saturday.

Conor Sheary and Henri Jokiharju also scored for the Sabres in their second straight win. Marcus Johansson had two assists, and Linus Ullmark made 32 saves.

“Creating layers of offense is what a good team does when top scorers drop out,” coach Ralph Krueger said. “I am happy with secondary scoring of late. We need to continue to develop at least three lines that can chip in here.”

Florida lost for the second time in three games. Mike Matheson and Evgenii Dadonov scored for the Panthers, and Chris Driedger stopped all 11 shots he faced after replacing Sergei Bobrovsky in the second period.

“We did a good job of limiting their chances,” Matheson said. “It’s kind of one of those games where you look back and you feel like you played a decent game. But if a couple of those shots had gone in, we’d be feeling much different.”

Buffalo center Jack Eichel also had an assist, but the Sabres were able to generate offense without the All-Star in the decisive second period.

Eichel went to the dressing room late in the second after getting hit in the face with a stick, but he was able to return at the start of the third. A high-sticking penalty on Florida’s Josh Brown also forced Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo to briefly leave the game in the second.

The Sabres’ depth at forward and ability to score without Eichel have been season-long issues.

And that was before second-leading scorer Victor Olofsson was sidelined with a lower-body injury after he got hurt during Buffalo’s 3-2 overtime win over Edmonton on Thursday. The NHL’s rookie scoring leader is expected to miss between five and six weeks.

The Sabres are also without forward Jeff Skinner, who is expected to miss another three weeks with an upper-body injury.

“Guys have been filling roles very nicely,” Reinhart said.

Buffalo added a veteran forward Thursday when it acquired Michael Frolik from Calgary in exchange for a fourth-round pick that it received in a separate trade sending defenseman Marco Scandella to Montreal. Frolik was not in the lineup Saturday, but he is expected to join the team next week.

Reinhart staked the Sabres a 3-0 lead and chased Bobrovsky 5:42 into the second period. It was Buffalo’s first power-play goal in seven games, ending an 0-for-16 skid.

“Not only Sam’s goal, also on the ensuing power play, there was a hunger to shoot that we haven’t seen for a while,” Krueger said.

Jokiharju finished a feed from Reinhart to score Buffalo’s first goal 13 minutes into the first period. Johansson set up Sheary’s goal that made it 2-0 in the early stages of the second.

Dadonov got Florida within one when he scored with an extra attacker on the ice with 1:10 remaining, but Ullmark and the Sabres closed out the win.

Ullmark had a shutout streak of 105:40 before Matheson scored 12:40 into the third.

“As soon as we got a goal, I felt like we had a chance to get something out of this game,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “Certainly a game that was there for the taking. And I don’t think we were ready to do everything it took to evaluate the importance of the game.”

NOTES: Florida went scoreless on three power plays after entering the game 9 for 29 over their previous nine games. … Panthers D MacKenzie Weegar sat out his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury. … Around 30 players from Buffalo’s 1990s teams were honored in a pregame ceremony as part of the Sabres’ 50th anniversary season celebration. Former captain Michael Peca received the loudest cheers when he removed his Sabres sweater to reveal a Buffalo Bills jersey.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Finish four-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Sabres: At St. Louis on Thursday.

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