SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Dmitry Kulikov returned from a knee injury and scored the winning shootout goal as the Florida Panthers beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Saturday night.
John Madden and Mikael Samuelsson scored in regulation for the Panthers. Jose Theodore made 24 saves.
Derek Roy and Tyler Ennis scored goals for the Sabres, and Ryan Miller stopped 15 shots.
Florida’s Wojtek Wolski and Buffalo’s Ennis each scored in the second round of the shootout. Kulikov backhanded in his goal in the seventh round to give Florida the win. Kulikov played in his first game since missing 23 games.
The Panthers won their fourth straight and notched their longest winning streak since a seven-game run March 2-16, 2008, and tied the franchise record with five consecutive home wins. The Panthers are five points ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division.
Neither team got off a shot in the overtime. The Panthers only had one shot in the third period and had a season-low 17 shots.
Trailing 2-1, Buffalo tied it at 2 in the second on Roy’s power-play goal. A shot by Jason Pominville was blocked by Theodore, but the puck bounced out to Roy in the slot and his slap shot beat Theodore on the stick side at 9:41.
Both teams scored on their first shot of the game.
The Sabres scored 1:15 in when Drew Stafford brought the puck along the side boards to the left circle where he backhanded a pass to Ennis in front. His wrist shot went between Theodore’s pads to make it 1-0. Ennis has seven goals and 15 points in his last 16 games.
The Panthers also scored on their first shot, except it didn’t come until 2:45 left in the first. Samuelsson’s slap shot from the top of the right circle during a power play tied it at 1.
The Panthers scored on their second shot of the game 38 seconds later when Madden’s snap shot from the left circle got past Miller to make it 2-1. It was Madden’s second goal in as many games after going scoreless in his first 19 games with the Panthers.
Notes: Buffalo’s Tyler Myers served the second of a three-game suspension for a hit against Montreal forward Scott Gomez on March 12. … D Andrej Sekera returned after missing five games with pneumonia. … Florida LW Tomas Fleischmann set a career high for most points in a season with 52 (22-30-52). … Florida F Kris Versteeg, tied with Tomas Fleischmann for the team lead in goals (22), returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a hip injury.