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Florida Panthers Get Two Key Points in Buffalo; Toronto Up Next

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Anton Lundell celebrates with his Florida Panthers teammates after scoring early in the third period of a 4-1 win against the host Buffalo Sabres on Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

In speaking with Bally Sports’ Katie Engelson following his team’s win Monday afternoon, Florida Panthers forward Anton Lundell summed up the day.

“We got what we came to get,” Lundell said.

Indeed.

In a game against a team the Panthers were chasing, Florida’s 4-1 win over the host Sabres would have just fine if it was of the ugly variety or a grind-it-out road affair.

But it was not.

The Panthers were in control of this one against the Sabres from the start.

And, if not for an odd-angled snipe from Alex Tuch with 8:33 remaining, Sergei Bobrovsky may have had to declare a shutout when he went across the border into Ontario.

Ah, yes. Toronto.

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What is next for the Panthers is just as important as Monday was. If not more.

For this first time this season, the Panthers square off against the Maple Leafs and this is a game Florida desperately needs at least a point out of.

The Leafs have lost their past two games but were watching on Monday as the Panthers played a strong defensive game that limited Buffalo’s shot selections through the first two periods before the Sabres got going in the third.

Toronto is going to try and get in deep against the Panthers and, at the same time, open up the middle and come into the offensive zone with speed.

The Panthers go into Toronto with wins in five of their past seven games — their best run of the season.

They are feeling good but now a huge test awaits.

“You have to win the first one in the NHL and now we get one of the best teams in the NHL,’’ Matthew Tkachuk said after recording his first three-assist game of the season.

“It’s going to be a great measuring stick for us. … We have been bringing confidence the past few games and now we’re playing another top team in the NHL, on the road, in a back-to-back. You come up with any excuse in the book, but we have let a few go earlier in the year and this is a big-time game for us. The belief is in this room.”

On Monday, the Panthers were able to get off to a fast start with Brandon Montour scoring the first goal of the day off a rebound from a Tkachuk shot near the goal.

Florida added to its lead 8:04 into the second on Sam Bennett’s one-timer coming off another Tkachuk rebound.

Lundell made it 3-0 in the opening minute of the third coming off a 2-on-1 break alongside linemate Sam Reinhart.

After this goal, the Sabres finally started putting some real pressure on Bobrovsky, getting some high-danger looks which were absent in the first two periods.

But with the Panthers holding a three-goal lead, no real damage was done although Buffalo came close to cutting it to a one-goal lead.

Carter Verhaeghe topped things off with an empty net with 98 seconds remaining.

But this is clear: The Panthers will not be able to sit back against the Leafs.

“That goal by Lundell was a huge moment for us,” Tkachuk said. “It allowed us to continue playing our game throughout the third. They may have had one or two shifts after that, but we played a very solid road game.”

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Toronto leads 45-35-7, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Montreal, 7 p.m.

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