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Panthers down Sabres to start trip on a good note
Published January 2, 2006
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Joe Nieuwendyk got the Panthers off to a good start to solving their road woes.
Nieuwendyk scored 32 seconds into the game on the first shot on net and Gary Roberts connected on the winner in the Panthers' 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Sunday.
"Any time you get a goal early it really lifts the team, especially on the road," Nieuwendyk said. "Tonight was a good start for us."
The Panthers improved to 7-2-1 in their last 10 games while upping their sagging road record to 4-14-3. Not a bad way to open a five-game road trip.
"It's huge," said goaltender Roberto Luongo, who stopped 28 shots. "Guys are aware that this is probably the most important stretch for our team this year. ... We definitely wanted to get off to a good start tonight and have a good week."
Roberts sealed the win with a power-play goal in the third period, redirecting Olli Jokinen's shot past Ryan Miller to break the tie.
Henrik Tallinder scored for Buffalo, which had a five-game home winning streak snapped and lost for only the fifth time in 23 games (18-3-2). Of the Sabres' 12 losses this season, three have come against the Panthers, including two at Florida.
The Sabres went 0-for-7 with the man advantage, failing to score a power-play goal for only the ninth time this season.
Luongo stood his ground to foil Jochen Hecht on a partial breakaway late in the second period. Luongo also was in position to stop Daniel Paille's one-timer from the slot with 6:41 left.
The only shot that beat him came from a bad angle to the left of the net, when Tallinder caught Luongo leaning off the post.
Roberts extended his points streak to five games (three goals, six assists), and with the assist, Jokinen extended his streak to a career-high 10 games (6, 10).
Panthers defenseman Mike Van Ryn limped off the ice and did not return late in the third period with what the team described as an injured quadriceps.
THRASHERS 5, CAPITALS 2: Marian Hossa scored visiting Atlanta's first two goals and jump-started a victory that prevented a losing streak. The Thrashers had earned at least one point in a franchise-record nine straight games before a loss in Buffalo on Dec. 30.
Hossa put the Thrashers on top at 15:25 by snapping in a shot from the left circle for his 18th goal, and struck again 3:21 into the second on a power play.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored his team-high 24th goal on a slap shot from the left circle at 1:41 in the third to make it 4-1. Alexander Ovechkin got his 24th goal with 4:45 remaining to extend his scoring streak to six games.
DUCKS 4, PREDATORS 2: The two teams combined for five goals in the first period, and visiting Anaheim made it a two-goal lead at 17:03 of the second.