JAGR TIME: Jaromir Jagr doesn't land on scoresheet but makes presence known in Florida's 5-3 win ... Brandon Pirri comes off IR, scores twice
Jaromir Jagr came to the Panthers with the thought he would help their much maligned offense.
And even though the future Hall of Famer didn't find the scoresheet Saturday, Jagr certainly had an effect as Florida recorded its fifth biggest output of the season in a 5-3 win over visiting Buffalo to snap a four-game losing streak.
"He was outstanding,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "He makes your team a lot better, gives your team a a lot of confidence.''
Jagr made his Florida debut Saturday afternoon just hours after he arrived at BB&T Center and headed to the home locker room for the first time.
The 43-year-old winger -- who shares a line with 19-year-old center Sasha Barkov as well as 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau -- ended up playing 21 shifts (17:09) with three shots on goal.
He'll get another chance to snap his eight game scoreless streak when Florida plays host to Tampa Bay on Sunday at 5.
"It was crazy for me since they told me about [the trade] at 4 on Thursday so I didn't have much time to pack up and get down here,'' Jagr said in a introductory postgame press conference.
"It's tough to just go to the game without any practice or preparation. We need every point we can get but this was new for me, not practicing and just jumping in.''
Not only was Jagr on the ice for both of Brandon Pirri's goals, but Pirri -- who was activated off the injured list before the game -- credited Jagr for getting him to take the shot in the first place.
Pirri's goals came just over a minute apart and tied the score at 2 past the midway point of the second period.
"He told me to shoot the puck, said 'you got it','' Pirri said. "I knew I had to be the shooter there, [Brian Campbell] put it in my wheelhouse and I teed off on it.''
Buffalo, the worst team in the NHL, jumped to a two-goal lead on the Panthers even when it looked like it didn't want to.
The Sabres, a team in tank mode as it hopes to hold the top pick in the NHL draft when it's held in Sunrise come June, was held to just 14 shots on goal yet found a way to get three past Roberto Luongo.
Buffalo's final goal tied the score at 3 with 7:06 remaining; the Sabres were being outshot 40-13 at the time.
Yet just when it looked like the Panthers would go to overtime despite thoroughly outplaying an opponent, Scottie Upshall came to the rescue.
Upshall, whom the Panthers have been trying to trade before Monday's deadline, took a feed from Derek MacKenzie in the slot and fired a wrister past Michal Neuvirth (42 saves) with six minutes left.
Buffalo didn't make much noise after that as MacKenzie put the Sabres out of their misery with an empty net goal in the final seconds.
"It felt great, nice to chip in and get on the board again,'' Upshall said. "It was nice to start a big weekend here with a win.''
Said Gallant: "It was tough seeing it tied 3-3. Fortunately for us, it's good to see your so-called fourth line get a goal for us.''
Florida at least kept pace with Boston for the final playoff spot. The Bruins opened their lead on the Panthers to four points after beating the Devils in overtime on Friday.
With the Bruins playing host to an Arizona team that hasn't won since Feb. 9 on Saturday evening, the Panthers couldn't afford to lose to the Sabres.
So the postseason hunt continues. Jagr should help things out.
"I'm going to do my best, that's why I'm here,'' Jagr said. "I've played the game so many years, when you add Europe I think it's the most ever, so I have a lot of experience. This makes me a little more excited. This is a new life.''
Sunday: Lightning at Panthers
When, where: 5 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Florida leads 57-47-10
Noteworthy: The two cross-state rivals haven't met since the season opener on Oct. 9. The Lightning has won five straight over Florida and the Panthers haven't won in Sunrise since their 2011-12 home opener. Al Montoya starts in goal for Florida.