The Florida Panthers took a while to warm up their engines in chilly Buffalo on Monday, but once they got humming, it was good night for the Sabres.
Florida’s rousing 6-1 win over the Sabres may have come at a cost, however, as rookie center Anton Lundell was hurt in the first period after awkwardly landing on his left leg and going into the boards.
Coach Andrew Brunette noted that he’s not medically trained, but said Lundell’s injury does not appear to be too bad.
More will be learned in the coming days.
“He’s kind of day-to-day with a lower body. We’ll reevaluate tomorrow morning,” Brunette said. “I have no idea, I’m not a doctor so it’s tough for me to evaluate. I think it’s not serious, but we’ll see.”
Aside from losing Lundell, the Panthers did not have much to complain about Monday.
Florida not only got three points from both Mason Marchment and Sasha Barkov, but the team set a franchise record with its fourth consecutive multi-goal power play effort.
The Panthers, who have now won three consecutive games, also overtook Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers certainly did not play their best in the first period.
Yet despite being outshot 11-3 in the opening frame, Florida led 1-0 after Brandon Montour celebrated his return to Buffalo in high fashion with a pretty goal.
Buffalo, which lost to the Kings 3-0 on Sunday, put up a fight in the first period, controlling possession and just about every other metric one could think of — save for the scoreboard.
The second period, well, that was a much different story.
And, based on how the Panthers went into their room following that first, an almost predictable one.
Buffalo did not do goalie Craig Anderson any favors in the 40-year-old Parkland resident’s quest for his 300th NHL win as he was all but hung out to dry for much of the second.
The Panthers certainly cashed in, scoring four goals in the second off 20 shots to take complete control of the game.
Florida rookie Spencer Knight, 20 years Anderson’s junior, did a great job of not only keeping Florida in the game during the first but keeping the Sabres at bay throughout the night.
The Panthers got some needed breathing room against the Sabres at 5:55 of the second when Noel Acciari came driving in on Anderson and rifled a shot off the far post to make it a 2-0 affair.
It was Acciari’s first goal since last season after he missed most of this one following a freak preseason injury.
Less than two minutes later, Florida cashed in on a power play chance when Barkov found Anthony Duclair at 7:39.
The Panthers caught their collective breath a little and did not score again until the 11:39 mark when Carter Verhaeghe took a nice feed from Marchment to make it 4-0.
Florida put a bow on this one with a pretty goal a minute later with Sam Bennett, MacKenzie Weegar and Patric Hornqvist playing a little tic-tac-toe in front of the net, Anderson unaware of where that puck was going.
Hornqvist’s goal in the second counted — unlike one he appeared to score in the first.
Florida, which scored on its first shot of the night courtesy of Montour, looked like it would be up 2-0 on its second offering as Hornqvist put a puck on the pad of Anderson and then jammed it through with his skate after being pushed by former Florida defenseman Mark Pysyk.
Only a video review showed that the cage had come off its moorings and the puck slid under the side of the net. Had it been on the ice, where it belonged, the puck would have stopped. Regardless, the goal was rightfully taken off the board and Florida’s lead remained 1-0.
Buffalo came out in the third as the Panthers did in the second — only it did not turn out the same way.
The Panthers gave up plenty of looks and only extended their lead at 6:50 when Barkov camped out in front of the net on a power play chance and hammered a Huberdeau pass past Anderson.
Florida now has eight power play goals in their past four games to set a franchise record.
Knight’s bid for his first NHL shutout — and Florida’s second in three games — came to an end when Rasmus Asplund’s long shot was deflected by John Hayden on the way through with 6:18 remaining in the game.
The rookie goalie ended his night with 28 saves. This was his first game back with the Panthers since losing to the New York Rangers on Feb. 1.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Sasha Barkov (goal, two assists), Florida
2. Mason Marchment (three assists), Florida
3. Spencer Knight (28 saves), Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: PPG Arena, Pittsburgh
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- Season Series — Tied 1-0-1: @Florida 5, Pittsburgh 4 (OT), Oct. 14; @Pittsburgh 3, Florida 2 (SO), Nov. 11
- All-time regular season series: Penguins lead 54-34-7, 4 ties