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Boyes' goals buoy Panthers in SO win

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[January 10, 2014]  BUFFALO, N.Y.  After striking the goal post four times in the third period, the Florida Panthers hoped their luck would change.

In the shootout, the hockey gods obliged.

Right winger Brad Boyes scored the winning goal in the shootout  which ricocheted off the left post and hit Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth before going into the net  to lead the Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Thursday night.

"That's irony, I guess. Some luck," Boyes said. "It kind of went the other way a lot of times. But finally the luck sort of shifted."

Boyes also scored Florida's only goal in regulation.

It was a deserving win for the Panthers (17-21-6), who had the upper hand but were the recipient of unfortunate luck throughout the game.

Boyes put the puck past Enroth with 6:53 remaining in regulation, but play on the ice was stopped because of an injury to Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

Left winger Jonathan Huberdeau also put the puck into the net on his shootout attempt, but the goal was called off after referees ruled that Enroth was pushed into the net. Upon video replay, Enroth did not appear to be pushed into the net.

"I think that ultimately the goal, Boyes' goal in the period, should have counted or there should have been a four-minute penalty, one or the other," Panthers coach Peter Horachek said.

"I thought Hubey's goal in the shootout should have counted. ... But that's the way it goes. Sometimes it works that way and sometimes it doesn't. You hope that it works out in the right way, the way that you'd wanted it to so maybe it just worked out in our favor the way it's supposed to."

Boyes, one of the best shootout performers in the league, changed up his approach on the game-winner because of his experience against Enroth. Boyes played with Enroth in Buffalo from 2010 to 2012.

"Being here and going against him in practice a lot, he was showing me glove," Boyes said. "He was kinda waving it to me like he was onto me and he knows where I go. So I tried to change it up a bit. I have trouble with guys that I played with so it was nice to get it on him."

Enroth said, "He's obviously one of the best in the league at shootouts. It's pretty much impossible to stop him in shootouts. It was a great shot. I've got to give it to him."

Goalie Tim Thomas had 23 saves for Florida (17-21-6) and was perfect in the shootout.

Defenseman Jamie McBain scored in regulation for Buffalo (12-26-5).

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Enroth was solid between the pipes and finished with 34 saves, but the Sabres continue to struggle at providing him support. In 13 starts, the Sabres have just 17 goals with Enroth in net.

"Almost every game he's played for us, he's given us a chance to play," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "I thought tonight, he was sensational. Any game that your goaltender can probably steal a game, tonight was probably one of those nights, and we just didn't give him too much help in front."

Boyes tied the score at 1 on a deflection shortly before the midway point of the third period. After a failed clearance by Buffalo defenseman Alexander Sulzer, the puck slowly found its way to defenseman Tom Gilbert inside the right circle, who blasted a slap shot that was redirected by Boyes into the net at 9:16. It was Boyes' team-leading 12th goal of the year.

McBain opened the scoring 5:13 into the second period on his third goal of the season. Uncovered in the slot, McBain put a strong wrist shot past Thomas on the blocker side after a feed from Buffalo captain Steve Ott.

It was the first game for Buffalo since Tim Murray was named general manager of the Sabres on Thursday morning. Murray, the nephew of Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, has 20 years of NHL experience and was most recently an assistant general manager with the Senators.

Even with the loss, the Sabres have collected a point in eight consecutive home games  but the performance didn't sit well with Nolan afterward.

"We didn't pursue the puck," Nolan said. "We didn't make any good plays. We were just there. When you play in front of whoever you play in front of, you're not going to win.

"Tonight was just one of those games you just want to forget about."

NOTES: This was Panthers D Brian Campbell's 800th NHL game. Campbell originally entered the NHL as a sixth-round pick of the Sabres in 1997. ... D Tyler Myers (suspension), LW Ville Leino (lower body) and C Mikhail Grigorenko were scratched for the Sabres. Myers missed the first of three games because of a suspension for an illegal hit to the head. Sabres RW Drew Stafford was placed on injured reserve. ... C Shawn Matthias, D Mike Mottau and C Scott Gomez were scratched for the Panthers ... This was the 100th NHL game for Buffalo LW Marcus Foligno. ... Earlier Thursday, the NHL announced that the Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes will play Feb. 25 to make up for the game that was postponed Tuesday because of a blizzard. The game will take place on the final day of the 17-day NHL Olympic break.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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