By PAUL GEREFFI
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — the associated press
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers came through with a rare chance to get some cheers at home.
Mike Santorelli scored the winning goal in the shootout to lift the Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
The injury-riddled Panthers got just their fifth home win in 18 games (5-8-5) this season.
“I felt like there was a feeling on the bench that, you know what, we owed our fans here at home, we owed ourselves,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “We didn’t want to make it that entertaining but we’ll take it.”
Jonathan Huberdeau also scored in the shootout for the Panthers and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo.
Santorelli’s winner came on the fourth round of the shootout.
“I saw him poke check there and luckily I was able to go around him,” Santorelli said. “Tonight it was good to come back and finish it off.”
Shawn Matthias had two goals in regulation and Huberdeau and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Panthers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Jacob Markstrom made 36 saves.
Marcus Foligno, Drew Stafford, Andrej Sekera, and Nathan Gerbe scored for the Sabres and Ryan Miller stopped 36 shots.
Huberdeau tied the score at 4-all when he pushed the puck past Miller for a power-play goal with 6:09 remaining in the third period. It was Huberdeau’s first goal in his past 10 games.
“It felt good,” Huberdeau said. “As long as we win, I don’t care if I don’t score for 15 games.”
Foligno’s power-play goal with 8:27 to go in the third broke a 3-3 tie. Jordan Leopold’s shot from the left circle was deflected by Foligno and got past Markstrom, but the Sabres couldn’t hold the lead.
“We had a chance to just hunker down in the third and didn’t do it,” Miller said.
NOTES: Sabres F Thomas Vanek was scratched from Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury he suffered in Tuesday’s game at Tampa Bay.