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    January 3, 2019 6:54 PM PST
    SUNRISE Adidas Jonathan Bernier Jersey , Fla. (AP) Record-setting wins don’t get much hollower than Florida’s victory Saturday night.The Panthers were eliminated from playoff contention, even after Vincent Trocheck scored late in the third period to help hold off the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 and set a franchise mark with 27 home victories.Florida’s slim playoff hopes ended when Philadelphia beat the New York Rangers 5-0 earlier in the day. The Panthers took out their frustration on the Sabres, going ahead 3-0 in the first period.The Panthers’ season ends in Boston on Sunday.”We wanted to go in tomorrow and have a chance to clinch a spot in the playoffs,” coach Bob Boughner said. ”It’s tough to have to rely on other teams. We know an hour before the game our playoff hopes were done. It was tough going into this game and getting the job done tonight.”Jonathan Huberdeau scored a power-play goal for the Panthers. Colton Sceviour had a goal and an assist and Nick Bjugstad also scored.”I think everybody in here is disappointed. The whole goal this year was to make the playoffs,” Trocheck said. ”Everybody coming into the game, we were all preparing as if it was going to be a do-or-die game. Kind of went into it the same way we would have gone into it if we were in the playoffs.”James Reimer made 38 saves in place of Roberto Luongo, who had played three games in four nights, including his 1,000th game Thursday. The Panthers also played without points leader Aleksander Barkov, who injured his shoulder late in the third period in Thursday’s game against the Bruins. Barkov will also miss Sunday’s finale.Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo. Chad Johnson allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period and was replaced to start the second with Adam Wilcox. Wilcox finished with 14 stops in his NHL debut.”The guys did a good job battling for me,” Wilcox said. ”They knew it was my debut tonight. A lot of respect for them battling for me for two periods. I just wanted to give the guys a chance to get back in the game Adidas Paul Thompson Jersey , and they did a good job of doing that.”The Panthers were cruising but the Sabres mounted a final flurry, scoring two goals 21 seconds apart late in the third period to make it 3-2. Pominville scored on a wrist shot with 4:30 left, and Reinhart scored shortly after.”Just to be blunt and honest, that was typically what our season was,” coach Phil Housley said. ”We couldn’t come out and start on time, and then we get the urgency to push back and get back into a game and make a game of it.”Trocheck’s empty-netter with 1:23 left made it score 4-2. O’Reilly’s power-play tally with 15.8 left closed the gap to 4-3.The Panthers took a 1-0 lead when Huberdeau deflected in a shot from Trocheck during a 5-on-3 power-play at 3:04 of the first. Sceviour made it 2-0 when he deflected a shot by Frank Vatrano at 10:59. Bjugstad then slid a puck under Johnson at 13:39.NOTES: Retiring Panthers F Radim Vrbata played his last game. Vrbata played 1,057 career games, including 42 with the Panthers. ”I’m glad I got a chance to play and have my family here. My wife, my sons, they got to see me one more time.” … O’Reilly set the NHL record for faceoff wins in a single season with 1,269 – passing Rod Brind’Amour (1,268 FOW in 2005-06). ”It’s special. It’s something I take a lot of pride in Adidas Troy Brouwer Jersey ,” O’Reilly said. … A moment of silence was observed before the game in memory of the lives lost in a traffic accident Friday night involving the Humboldt Broncos, a youth hockey team from Canada.UP NEXTSabres: Completed their season.Panthers: Visit Boston Bruins on Sunday.— In their season-opening games, the Pittsburgh Penguins won in overtime but thought there was a fair amount of room for improvement and the Montreal Canadiens lost in overtime but were encouraged by what they thought was a strong performance.That sets an interesting stage for the matchup on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.“I’m disappointed in the loss — you always think you could have, should have won the game — but I’m not disappointed in the effort we put out,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said of a 3-2 loss to Toronto.Article continues below ...“If we keep putting out the same effort and improve in certain areas where we didn’t do as well, there’s no doubt that if we play as well as we did, we’re going to give ourselves a chance every night.”Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan put his club’s chances a little lower in a similar scenario after a last-one-out-turn-off-the-lights 7-6 win over defending Stanley Cup champion Washington.“We were pleased with the results of the game, but if we played that game 10 times over, we’d win five and lose five,” Sullivan said of trading chances at a rapid rate. “That’s not a formula for success.”Pittsburgh swept all three games against the Canadiens last season, scoring five goals in each game.While the Penguins retain a core of players and a high-paced philosophy that helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and ’17, the Canadiens are looking for a new direction.Against the Maple Leafs Adidas Michael Hutchinson Jersey , the Canadiens made veterans Tomas Plekanec and Carl Alzner healthy scratches in favor of a younger, speedy lineup. That included Jesperi Kotkaniemi, an 18-year-old center who made his NHL debut and played 15 minutes.“I don’t think he looked out of place,” Julien said of Kotkaniemi. “If you want to win hockey games, you have to put players on the ice who are capable of making plays, and he’s one of them.”Not to mention players with wheels.“We used that speed, especially on the forecheck, to take time and speed away from (Toronto),” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said, according to the Montreal Gazette.Pittsburgh is expecting more of the same from the Canadiens.“They’re going to be a young, fast team, and those are teams that you can get trapped with Adidas Mike Hoffman Jersey ,” Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “You can take them lightly and get into a track meet and they can end up beating you. They’re definitely a team we’re not taking lightly. They had a great game against Toronto.“It’s a speed game right now. If you can’t adapt to that style, you’re going to have a tough time playing (against them). You’ve always got to be aware of speed.”The Penguins should know. That’s the style they play, and it could be argued they started the trend that a lot of teams are following.They find themselves trying the same tactics — taking away shooting lanes, playing in opponents’ faces — that teams have been trying to use against them.“We see it, too, and it’s frustrating,” Dumoulin said. “But I think a lot of teams are going with that style.”
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    January 21, 2019 10:19 PM PST

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