Gionta scores in 1,000th game, leads Sabres to 4-2 win
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Sabres captain Brian Gionta scored while playing his 1,000th career game and Buffalo beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Monday night.
Ryan O'Reilly, Zach Bogosian and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Sabres, who led 3-0 after Gionta's goal 1:25 into the second period. The goal drew a large cheer from the crowd after the 15-year NHL veteran was honored during a pregame ceremony.
Gionta received a pass to the left of the net, then cut across the crease, drawing goalie James Reimer out of position. After Gionta's first attempt was denied by Reilly Smith, he flipped a bad-angle shot toward the net that deflected in off the hands of defenseman Jason Demers.
Robin Lehner stopped 30 shots, including punching his glove hand out to get a piece of Smith's backhander on a penalty shot 5:23 into the third period. Buffalo improved to 4-1 in its past five and earned its 76th point to move one back of the 13th-place Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist and Jonathan Marchessault scored his team-leading 29th goal and sixth in three games. The Panthers lost for the first time in three games but dropped to 4-11-1 in their past 16.
Reimer gave up four goals on 22 shots and was pulled after Foligno beat him on the short side with a bad-angle shot from the lower left circle with 4:52 left in the second period. Reto Berra took over and finished with 10 saves.
Florida responded to the goalie change 62 seconds later, when Huberdeau scored from the slot to cut Buffalo's lead to 4-2.
Buffalo's Zemgus Girgensons briefly made it 5-2 with a minute left in the second period, but the goal was disallowed following a video review determining the puck was kicked in through Berra's legs.
With the 289th goal of his career, Gionta reached the 15-goal mark for the ninth time in 15 seasons and first time in his three years in Buffalo. And it was no surprise he scored against Florida. He began the season with 21 career goals against the Panthers, the most against any opponent.
The Sabers honored Gionta before the game with a video tribute that included footage of him playing as a youngster and recollections and tributes from family, friends and teammates. They included former New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who selected him in the third round of the 1998 draft.
Gionta was then joined on the ice by his parents, wife and three children and presented with a painting of him and a commemorative silver stick.
O'Reilly opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:21 in. Jack Eichel set it up by driving up the right wing and firing a bad-angle shot that caromed off Reimer's pad and into the slot to O'Reilly, who snapped the puck into the top left corner.
Bogosian then scored some 11 minutes later when he actually beat Reimer twice. Bogosian's first shot from the right circle hit the far post and bounced directly back to the defenseman, who sneaked the rebound in through the goalie's legs.
Panthers LW Shawn Thornton played his 700th career game, while D Mark Pysyk, acquired by Florida in trade from Buffalo in June, played his 200th. ... From nearby Rochester, New York, Gionta became the 43rd American to play 1,000 games, and 10th to do it with Buffalo. ... Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr played two days after a left knee injury led to him missing the third period of a 7-0 win over Chicago.
Panthers: Continue four-game road trip at Toronto on Tuesday night.
Sabres: At Columbus on Tuesday night.