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Florida Panthers Rally with Two Goals in Final Four Minutes to Trump Sabres 3-2

BUFFALO – A few nights after watching the Senators steal a victory from them, the Panthers got one back against the Sabres. 

Florida trailed with just over seven minutes remaining Saturday but goals from Tomas Fleischmann and Jason Garrison handed Buffalo a 3-2 defeat at First Niagara Center. 

On Thursday, the Panthers and Senators were tied before Ottawa scored the game-winning goal with 2.5 seconds left. As hard as Buffalo charged on Saturday, Florida goalie Jose Theodore – making his first start in a week – wouldn't let the Sabres pull another fast one on the Panthers. 

“We talked a lot about new personnel we have. You can do all the team bonding stuff you want but it's games like this that make a difference for us,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “It turned into a good road trip. Could have been a great road trip. You have to like the bounce back game.''

The Panthers end up winning two of three on their road trip, taking four of the available six points. Florida didn't let the lost point(s) in Ottawa come back to haunt them again.

Buffalo is now 1-3 on home ice, its only win here coming Thursday against the struggling Blue Jackets.

“We stuck with the plan and played a really good game,'' center Stephen Weiss said. “We kept chipping away. We knew what happened last game and knew we could do the same thing. We got some really big goals. But know we're kicking ourselves a little bit. We know we were two seconds away from getting at least five of six points on this trip. But that's this game we play. Anything can happen.''

Florida trailed 2-1 with 7:07 left when Jason Pominville scored on a shot from outside the left circle. 

Then Marco Sturm put the Panthers in what could have been a major disadvantage when he received a five minute penalty for boarding and a 10-minute game misconduct.

The Sabres helped the Panthers cause, however, with Drew Stafford taking a penalty for roughing and Nathan Gerbe following that up with a minor for tripping Dmitry Kulikov and another for unsportsmanlike conduct with 5:19 left.

Instead of having to kill off three minutes of penalties with Sturm out, the Panthers were able to play with a 4-on-3 advantage for a little bit before going back to 4-on-4 play when Stafford came back out. 

“We got lucky there for sure,'' Weiss said. “They took some pressure off of us because we didn't have to kill penalties.''

Florida tied the score on 4-on-4 play when Fleischmann took a feed from Tomas Kopecky (who assisted on all three goals) after Kopecky failed to score in front of the net. Fleischmann made a nice play by backhanding the puck from the left side of the net past Ryan Miller (33 saves) with 3:58 left.

“This was a huge game for us, to win on our last night on the road and to do it with six minutes left in their building,'' Fleischmann said. “We proved we could come back and that is a really good feeling for us.''

With 1:43 remaining, Garrison whipped a shot from almost 50 feet out to give the Panthers their first lead since Marcel Goc made it 1-0 at 6:48 of the second period. Garrison, who had five goals last season, scored his fourth on Saturday. Garrison is an unrestricted free agent after this season; Panthers GM Dale Tallon said Saturday that he has spoken to Garrison's agent about a potential deal although nothing is eminent.

“He can bring the rain,'' Dineen said. “He really hammers that thing. He's not a stop and feel it out. I don't think anyone in hockey could stop that. It was in and out before [Miller] could react. It was a bomb.''  

-- Dineen confirmed that Mikael Samuelsson will not be joining the Panthers lineup in the near future as he tries to strengthen up after complications from sports hernia surgery last May. Samuelsson came to the Panthers in last week's trade with Vancouver and will be evaluated this week in South Florida.

--Yaroslav Kosov, Florida's fifth round pick in 2011, was injured in a car accident in Russia. The 18-year-old suffered a concussion and a slipped disc, but the Panthers say he should recover. 

-- Defenseman Erik Gudbranson played in his 10th game on Saturday, meaning he is now in the first year of his entry level contract with the Panthers.

Dineen told Gudbranson, 19, on Thursday that he would remain with the Panthers this season although by playing in Saturday's game it all became official.