A pair of Florida Panthers will reconnect with former teammates when the high-flying club hosts the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour will be facing their former team for the first time since each was traded to the Panthers. Reinhart was traded to Florida over the summer in exchange for goalie prospect Devon Levi and a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, while Montour preceded his teammate to the Sunshine State, traded to the Panthers a few days before the NHL trade deadline last season.
Reinhart delivered in the clutch for the Panthers on Tuesday, scoring with 14.4 seconds remaining in the game as the team rallied from a 4-1 deficit to secure a 5-4 win against the Washington Capitals.
“It feels great,” Reinhart said. “To be able to complete that comeback in regulation, it was a great win for us.”
The win came one game after the Panthers suffered their first home loss of the season. The team is 12-1-0 on home ice.
The Panthers have scored at least four goals in four of their past seven games and rank among the top teams in the NHL with 82.
“We have a belief that we can come back, we can score, and we can play at a high tempo,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “It’s nice to put this one in the bank. You can reflect on it and say we know what it takes to win.”
A question mark entering the season, the Sabres have shown they’re capable of putting the puck in the net. Lately, however, they’ve struggled to keep it out of their own, allowing at least five goals in seven of their past 11 games.
The tandem of Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski delivered through October.
Tokarski held the fort through early November after Anderson sustained an upper-body injury, but it’s been a tough go over the past few weeks. Tokarski has carried the load with Aaron Dell getting spot duty, struggling in each of his three starts and allowing at least four goals in each of those outings.
Jeff Skinner is on the road to a bounce-back season after two down years offensively. Skinner recorded his third two-goal game of the season on Monday, bringing his total to eight goals in 22 games — one more than he had last year in 53 games, and just six shy of his total in 59 games in 2019-20.
“I will refer to what I said at the start of the year before he even started scoring. He’s doing all of the right things to lead to scoring,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I said that I was a 100 percent confident that would happen and that would be the result. He stayed on it. … All his habits point to the fact that he’s going to be productive. … For Skinner, this is a new normal for him, I believe, because of the work and habits he’s putting in.”
Center Casey Mittelstadt is likely to return after being sidelined by an upper-body injury sustained in the Sabres’ season opener on Oct. 14.