Sabres carve up Panthers for 8th win in last 9

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Thomas Vanek scored twice to lead the
Buffalo Sabres to a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on
Saturday night.

J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville had a goal and assist each, and
Jiri Novotny scored his first career goal for the Sabres. Derek Roy
and Maxim Afinogenov had two assists for Buffalo, which improved to
8-0-1 in its last nine games, including a 3-2 overtime loss to
Montreal on Thursday.

Chris Gratton and Jonathan Sim had a goal and assist each and
Mike Van Ryn also scored for the Panthers, who were seeking their
first season-series sweep of Buffalo after winning their first
three meetings. Florida continues to struggle on the road, entering
the game with seven road wins, the fourth fewest in the NHL.

Buffalo rallied with three straight goals after squandering a
2-0 lead.

Vanek put the Sabres ahead for good in the final minute of the
second period, taking advantage of a delayed penalty after
Afinogenov was tripped inside the Panthers' zone. While lying face
down, Afinogenov swept the puck to Vanek, who snapped a shot
beating Roberto Luongo inside the near left post.

Vanek's goal came after Gratton and Sim tied the game scoring
goals 6 minutes apart. Gratton and Sim each extended their point
streaks to four games. Gratton has four goals and six assists
during that stretch, while Sim has six goals and two assists.

Vanek then put Buffalo ahead 4-2 with a great individual effort
five minutes into the third period. After Sim whiffed in his
attempt to bat in a bouncing puck over fallen goalie Ryan Miller,
Vanek led a rush up the right wing. Beating Panthers defender Lukas
Krajicek around the Florida net, Vanek wrapped it in behind a
diving Luongo.

Dumont produced the most creative goal in opening the scoring
late in the first period, batting in Ales Kotalik's flip pass out
of the air and bouncing it past Luongo's outstretched blocker.

The Sabres avoided squandering a two-goal lead for the first
time this season. Buffalo improved to 23-0 when leading by two
goals, and is one of only three teams -- Carolina (28-0) and San
Jose (19-0) -- to not blow a two-goal lead this season.

Game notes
After giving up short-handed goals in consecutive games,
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff changed his first power-play unit, putting
two defensemen -- instead of a forward and defenseman -- at the
point. Buffalo is tied with Washington in allowing a league-high 12
short-handed goals. ... Panthers defensemen Kwiatkowski and Jay
Bouwmeester each played in their 200th career game. ... Novotny's
goal came in his sixth career game, in the lineup filling in after
Jochen Hecht sprained his right knee Thursday. ... Sabres' Taylor
Pyatt bloodied the nose of Florida's Steve Montador during a fight
in the third period.