BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jordan Leopold and Drew Stafford scored 13 seconds apart in the third period and the Buffalo Sabres moved closer to securing a playoff spot with a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Stafford had two goals and an assist, while Jason Pominville had a goal and assist for Buffalo, which won back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks. Ryan Miller was sharp in making 22 saves as the eighth-place Sabres (37-28-9) moved within two points of the idle New York Rangers.

Buffalo remained three points ahead of Carolina for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Sergei Samsonov and Evgeny Dadonov scored for the 14th-place Panthers (29-36-10), who were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Panthers forward David Booth did not return after he was struck in the face by Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers’ dump-in along the boards in the Panthers’ zone with 2:31 left in the first period. Booth lay on the ice for a minute before getting up on his own and skating to the bench while holding his jaw.

The only bright side for Florida was the team finally scored a goal after being shut out their past two games. Samsonov’s goal came 4:01 in to tie the game at 1 ended the Panthers scoring drought at 135:35 seconds.

Miller shut the door after that, stopping the next 20 shots he faced before Dadonov scored a mean-nothing goal with 3 seconds left.


PENGUINS 1, DEVILS 0: James Neal scored in the third round of a shootout and Pittsburgh won at home in a game dominated by goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Martin Brodeur.

Fleury made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season and 19th of his career. He also stopped Brian Rolston, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias in the shootout.

The Penguins, on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, moved within two points of idle Philadelphia in the race for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leads.


SENATORS 2, CAPITALS 0: Craig Anderson made 31 saves for his second shutout and Colin Greening and Erik Condra scored as Ottawa won at home.

Anderson has won both of his starts since he signed a four-year, $12.75 million contract extension Monday.


HURRICANES 4, LIGHTNING 3: In Tampa, Fla., Erik Cole scored two goals to help the Hurricanes beat the Lightning to remain three points behind Buffalo for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.


CANUCKS 3, THRASHERS 1: Roberto Luongo stopped 30 shots and the Canucks set franchise records for road wins and points in a season by beating Atlanta.