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Sabres top Panthers on controversial goal

Dixon Ward scored an unassisted goal with 3:46 left in overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Ward streaked in on Mark Fitzpatrick and his shot appeared to be stopped. But when the loose puck slipped out, Panthers defenseman Rhett Warrener accidentally nudged it over the goal line.

Panthers coach Doug MacLean immediately hopped over the boards and raced toward rookie referee Dennis Larue. He was restrained by three of his players.

The Panthers dropped to 1-5-2 in their past eight games.

Rookie goaltender Kevin Weekes made his home debut, but was taken out after teammate Kirk Muller skated on his hand.

Florida's regular goaltender, John Vanbiesbrouck, is nursing a groin pull, so Fitzpatrick took over. He had 14 saves, but remained winless in his last 18 decisions (0-10-8), dating to Sept. 23, 1996.

RED WINGS: For the first time since a limousine crash critically injured them in June, defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov watched practice at Joe Louis Arena.

"(Konstantinov) is not able to skate now or to joke around, but after a while he started to show some response," center Igor Larionov said.

Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov remain hospitalized.

"On Wednesday, I was visiting Vlady and told him I was tired of driving there to see him and asked him if he was going to come and see me at the rink," trainer John Wharton said. "He lifted his head up and nodded his head three times. It had to be tough on him because the last time he was here he wasn't in a wheelchair."