BUFFALO, N.Y. — Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Eichel scored shootout goals and the Buffalo Sabres matched their best start to a season in 10 years with a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Kyle Okposo set up goals by Johan Larsson and defenceman Marco Scandella on a night the Sabres top two lines were held without a point, and their potent power play finished 0 for 4. Zemgus Girgensons also had two assists.
Buffalo improved to 4-0-1 under new coach Ralph Krueger, and opened with three straight home wins for the first time since 2008-09.
Linus Ullmark finished with 41 saves on a night Buffalo squandered a 2-0 third-period lead.
Mike Hoffman forced overtime by scoring with 11 seconds left. Left open in the right circle, he waited patiently before snapping a shot over Ullmark’s left shoulder.
Sergei Bobrovsky had little chance on either of Buffalo’s goals, and finished with 41 saves through overtime — including three key stops over the final 1:45 of the extra frame. His best save came with 45 seconds left in overtime when he kicked out his left pad out to stop Mittelstadt set up at the post.
Bobrovsky was coming off a 6-3 loss to Carolina on Tuesday in which he was yanked after allowing four goals on 14 shots in the first period.
Eichel scored on Buffalo’s first shootout attempt by banking in a shot off the right post. After Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov failed on their attempts, Mittelstadt sealed the victory by backhanding a shot inside the crossbar.
Evgenii Dadonov scored on a partial breakaway 6:15 into the third period for Florida, which dropped to 1-2-1 under new coach Joel Quenneville.
It marked the second straight game in which Buffalo blew a two-goal, third-period lead. The Sabres had a 4-2 lead over Montreal in an eventual 5-4 overtime win on Wednesday.
Larsson opened the scoring with 31 seconds left in the second period just as Hoffman finished serving a cross-checking penalty.
Okposo drove up the right wing and drew two defenders while entering the Panthers’ zone. Okposo then slipped a pass to an open Larsson, who roofed a shot in and then went soaring over Bobrovsky, who was a split-second late in getting across with 31 seconds left in the second period.
Buffalo’s power-play unit entered the game having converted eight of 15 opportunities.
Scandella put Buffalo up 2-0 by jumping into the play and converting Okposo’s pass into the left circle by scoring 2:02 into the third period.
The Sabres had several point streaks come to an end, including defenceman Rasmus Dahlin’s four-gamer, in which he had a goal and six assists, and rookie forward Victor Olofsson, who combined for four goals and an assist in his first four games.
Buffalo entered the day with 18 goals scored in first four games, the most over that same span since scoring 19 in 2007-08. … Panthers remain the NHL’s only team to not have scored a goal in the first period this season. … Panthers C Denis Malgin returned to the lineup after sitting out two games and replaced Henrik Borgstrom.
Panthers: At New York Islanders on Saturday.
Sabres: Close three-game homestand against Dallas Stars on Monday.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press