Sabres 4, Panthers 3

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—The Buffalo Sabres were the beneficiary of another third-period meltdown by the Florida Panthers.

Daniel Briere scored two goals in the third to help the Sabres to a 4-3 victory Friday night. Buffalo was down 3-1 in the third before scoring three times to win.

“It’s a great feeling right now,” Briere said. “I can’t describe it. Earlier in the season, once we were down one or two goals we didn’t stick with the system. This time we were patient and waited for our chances.”

It was the second straight game in which the Panthers blew a third-period lead. They were leading the New York Rangers 3-1 on Wednesday but settled for a tie.

Curtis Brown and Taylor Pyatt also scored for Buffalo, which won its second straight overall and third consecutive at home.

Stephen Weiss had two goals, and Juraj Kolnik also scored for the Panthers, who led 3-0 but lost for the first time in four games.

Brown’s third goal of the season late in the second period cut the deficit to 3-1 a day after Thanksgiving.

“I thought we came out and looked like turkeys,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought we regrouped and found a way to win it.”

The Sabres peppered Florida goaltender Steve Shields in the third period.

Briere skated unabated to the front of the net from behind the goal line and put a wrist shot past a sprawled Shields to make it 3-2.

“After that we felt the crowd starting to come back,” said Briere, who has nine points in his last eight games.

Briere tied it at 3 with a power-play goal at 13:22 of the third. His hard slap shot from the top of the left circle beat Shields on the stick side. Pyatt scored just 66 seconds later.

“It was a real nice pass from Chris Drury,” said Pyatt, who hadn’t scored in 12 games. “I was able to work a little give-and-go and he put it in my wheelhouse. It was nice to break out of a slump with a goal like that.”

Shields allowed four goals on 34 shots.

“It was up to us to play better and we didn’t,” said Shields, who made his first start since a 5-2 loss at Atlanta on Nov. 16.

Florida blew a three-goal lead for the first time since Chicago rallied to beat them on Feb. 13, 2002.

“We had total control of the game,” Panthers coach Rick Dudley said. “Obviously this is a frustrating loss.”

Weiss, who also scored in Florida’s 2-1 win over Buffalo on Monday, has five goals in five games.

“We were up 3-0 and I guess that’s a plus,” Weiss said. “We can’t sulk about this. We have to understand what happened and can’t dwell on it.”

Mika Noronen started in the Buffalo net but was pulled after Kolnik’s goal at 6:39 of the first period. Noronen, who entered with a 4-1 home record and a 2-0 career mark against Florida, allowed two goals on just seven shots.

Martin Biron replaced Noronen and made 11 saves, but just one in the third when Buffalo outshot Florida 13-1.

“We count on our players to make big plays,” Ruff said.

Weiss scored his first goal of the game just a minute in, picking up a loose puck at the blue line after defenseman Dmitri Kalinin lost control of it. Weiss took two strides and let go a wrist shot that went between Noronen’s legs.

Valeri Bure, who assisted on Weiss’ second goal in the second period, has points in 11 of his 14 games this season. Bure missed 11 games because of a groin injury.

Maxim Afinogenov added two assists for the Sabres, who have outscored theiropponents 14-5 during their home winning streak.

Notes

The Panthers are 4-5-1 under general manager Dudley, who took over the coaching duties after he fired Mike Keenan on Nov. 9. … Noronen was pulled in the first period for the first time in his career. … Buffalo plays at Nashville on Saturday, and Florida will visit Montreal. … Ruff was an assistant coach with Florida from 1993-97. … Brown has 18 points againstFlorida, the most against any other opponent.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
T. Pyatt T. Pyatt
Buffalo Sabres
Scored at 14:28 of 3rd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Mika Noronen Van 7 5