SUNRISE, Fla. – Jeff Skinner scored twice and Craig Anderson made 50 saves against his former team to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
The 41-year-old Anderson spent three seasons with the Panthers (2006-09) and still maintains a home a few miles north of their arena. He helped Buffalo get to 64 points and pull into a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Detroit and Florida.
The Sabres have not been to the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2011 — the longest such drought in the NHL.
Buffalo also got a power-play goal from Alex Tuch, and Tage Thompson had three assists.
Carter Verhaeghe scored his 31st of the season for the Panthers — who were playing without their two top centers in Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett due to injuries. Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the loss.
Buffalo, coming off an overtime win at Tampa Bay on Thursday night, took the lead at 3:51 of the second period when Skinner found himself alone at the right side of the net and scored on a pass from Thompson.
The Sabres made it 2-0 on Tuch’s goal, which came two minutes after Buffalo had a goal taken off the board due to video review showing Tuch was offside.
Florida finally got one past Anderson at 8:24 of the third period as Verhaeghe took a cross-ice pass from Anthony Duclair and fired a shot from the right circle.
Skinner got his second of the night and 24th of the season about two minutes later to give his team some breathing room again with a tough-angle shot from the goal line to beat Bobrovsky.
NOTES: For the first time this season, the Panthers had Duclair in their lineup. He had been out since having Achilles tendon surgery in July. … With Barkov and Bennett out, Florida recalled Grigori Denisenko and Zac Dalpe from its AHL team in Charlotte. Denisenko had been sent to Charlotte on Wednesday to help clear cap space for Duclair. … Florida goalie Spencer Knight will be away from the team for an undetermined amount of time after entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. … The Panthers also placed Givani Smith on long-term injured reserve after he was struck in the face by a puck Monday against Anaheim. … The Sabres made Rasmus Asplund, Jacob Bryson and Eric Comrie healthy scratches.
Sabres: Host the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
Panthers: Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.