Once again, the Buffalo Sabres relied too much on goalie Dominik Hasek. And once again, the Sabres failed to win a home opener.
"You're never really safe," said Geoff Sanderson, who scored 11 seconds into the game for the Sabres. "We probably made Dom work a little harder than we'd like him to."
Hasek, the NHL's most valuable player the past two seasons, made 32 saves for the Sabres, who have won just two of their last 10 home openers.
"I guess he saved the day again for them," said Ray Whitney, who scored the Panthers' first goal. "He made some key stops in the second and third periods. It was a good tie for us nonetheless."
Sean Burke stopped 23 shots for Florida.
"We were just a little sluggish tonight," said Buffalo defenseman Jason Woolley, who assisted on the second goal. "You're going to have these games. It's just that we didn't want it to be tonight."
Both teams had good scoring chances in the third period, in which Florida outshot Buffalo 12-9, but there were no shots in overtime.
"I thought there were times when we could have got the shot again, and instead we looked for the pretty play," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruf.
The Sabres took a 2-1 lead on Michal Grosek's power-play goal at 15:08 of the second period. But the Panthers tied it at 13:24 of the second period when Kvasha stickhandled around defenseman Darryl Shannon and scored on a backhand.
"Actually, don't have a good shot on the backhand," Kvasha said. "He (Hasek) goes down all the time, and the space between his legs was wide open."
Buffalo had a chance to take the lead five minutes into the third period when Vaclav Varada angled in on Burke, but the shot was deflected wide.
Johan Garpenlov went off for interference at 6:41 of the third, giving Buffalo a power play. But the Sabres had trouble setting up and failed to get a shot.
Sanderson gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 11 seconds into the game after taking a pass from Miroslav Satan.
Florida tied it on the power play about 10 minutes later. With Michael Peca in the box for boarding, Whitney batted in a shot from the right point by Ed Jovanovski.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved