After falling behind by two goals, the Flyers scored five straight to extend their winning streak to 4 games since January 2nd with a 5-2 decision over the Sabres.
Sergei Bobrovsky would tie a career-best by stopping 38 of Buffalo’s 40 shots on net keeping the Sabres off the scoreboard for the last 2 periods. It was Bob’s 2nd win against Buffalo in as many tries.
Danny Briere shook off an All-Star snub to score the tying goal for the Flyers in the 2nd period and add 2 more assists in the 3rd as the Flyers outscored Buffalo 4-0 in the last 40 minutes.
In addition to the win in Detroit and the sweep of the home and home against New Jersey, the Flyers are atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference by three points heading to Boston on Thursday.
Buffalo ended its two-game winning streak tonight and looks forward to their Thursday game hosting the Hurricanes.
The beginning of the 1st period was uneventful until Paul Gaustad scored his 4th of the year on his 2nd rebound attempt. After making the original save, Bobrovsky was looking for help from his defenders for a clear or body contact on Sabres near the crease. Unfortunately neither happened and Buffalo took the lead 5 minutes into the game.
Halfway through the 1st, Nathan Gerbe would circle around the net to the top of the circles and send a shot wide of the net off the endboards. It was from here that Cody McCormick took a shot from behind the goal line and put it in off Bobrovsky’s back for a 2-0 Sabres lead.
On the next shift, the line of Briere-Hartnell-Leino hustled and created several solid scoring chances briefly shifting the momentum to the Flyers. After a Mike Weber interference call on Claude Giroux in the corner due to the Flyers’ new found surge, the visitors made quick work on the power play.
Briere would set up a Kimmo Timonen slap shot from the point that Scott Hartnell would deflect in front of Miller while screening him at the same time. With the use of only 15 seconds on the power play, the Flyers had cut the lead to 2-1.
The 2nd period started out much like the 1st as the first couple minutes were quite uneventful. It would take a little bit of Flyers’ forechecking before the 1st penalty of the period was called.
After a few chances, Braydon Coburn ended up with the puck near the blue line and ripped a shot on net. Ryan Miller made the first stop, and the rebound bounced to his right near James van Riemsdyk, but Buffalo defenseman Jordan Leopold saved a goal for Buffalo by hooking JVR.
The Flyers generated 3 shots on the extra man opportunity, but no goals. Several minutes later (after a few Flyers confronted Gaustad), Timonen received a legitimate holding call on Tyler Ennis, who also received 2 for diving. Despite being a call that displeased many fans, this would be the Flyers’ biggest break of the evening.
At the end of the two-minute 4-on-4 battle, Timonen found the puck past the Sabres’ defense which started a 2-on-1 with Briere. Timonen saw his pass to Briere slowed in the slot, but Danny would put the shot top shelf to tie up the game with just under 2 minutes left in the 2nd period.
The Flyers were unable to gain any momentum going into the 3rd due to another legitimate holding call on Coburn. After killing off the final 1:13 of Coburn’s penalty, the Flyers fired up what turned out to be an explosive 3rd period.
About 2 minutes in, Briere and Leino started a 2-on-1 into the Buffalo zone. Briere’s shot was kicked away by Miller, but the puck would bank in off Ville Leino’s skate. The goal was called good on the ice and after a very brief call to Toronto, the call stood, giving the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
Leino never displayed a kicking motion, but rather a stopping motion as he began to be hooked while approaching the crease for a rebound.
It was from here on in the Flyers would dictate the play as they created very many scoring chances within the next few shifts. Both JVR and Jeff Carter would hit the post shortly after the Flyers’ go-ahead goal. The lead would later be extended to 4-2 on a great individual play by captain Mike Richards.
From a failed Andrej Sekera pass attempt, Richards intercepted the puck and broke away. Shortly after undressing Miller, Richards made his signature move to the backhand inside the right post for a two-goal margin with 8 1/2 minutes left to play.
Hartnell would add on the empty netter with just under 2 minutes remaining and Philadelphia took away a 5-2 triumph.
Bobrovsky was phenomenal tonight as he outplayed the goalie opposite of him in Miller. He was dented for 2 first period goals, but neither were his fault.
The first was the defense’s inability to help him out and the second was just a lucky bounce. ”Bob” would save all 29 of the shots he saw in the final 2 periods. A strong 2nd period in which Bobrovsky allowed no goals on 15 shots through traffic and physical contact set up the Flyers comeback. This was Bob’s 1st win since his December 15th 5-3 victory in Montreal — which originally set his career high with 38 stops.
Briere, Hartnell, and Leino all played amazingly yet again. Briere registered 1 goal and 3 assists, Hartnell had 2 goals and 1 assist, and Leino had a goal. Briere had the crucial goal in the 2nd period against his former team to tie up and set up Philly’s 3rd period dominance. Hartnell stood up for Giroux by fighting Gaustad after he had looked to lay out Claude earlier in the game. This was the line’s 2nd impressive performance in a 3 game span; Thursday’s 4-2 win was due to 4 goals from this line.
Timonen had an eventful night as he set up Philly’s 1st 2 goals. Richards ended up with 4 blocked shots on the night and a big hit in the 1st that helped set up Hartnell’s 1st goal on the night.
JVR didn’t play as awesome as he did on Saturday, but he did impress none the less. Carter would receive multiple chances throughout the game, but was unable to put them home as he was robbed multiple times by Miller.
The biggest headache of the night for Philly was Gaustad. It’s true McCormick would have a hell of a game, but Gaustad agitated the Flyers throughout. In the middle of the 2nd period, Gaustad and Giroux would engage in a shoving match after Gaustad missed laying Giroux out. Minutes later, Gaustad would fight Hartnell after Hartnell started things up after the whistle (and unfortunately during the commercial break). Then, in the 3rd period, Gaustad hit Sean O’Donnell away from the puck which started O’Donnell’s abuse on him for the ensuing play. All in all, Gaustad would ultimately not affect the Flyers as they stuck to their game plan and won.
Notes: This was Philly’s first win in Buffalo since 11/6/09. Flyers are 7-2-1 against Buffalo since the beginning of the ’08-09 season. Miller has never recorded a regular season shutout against the Flyers. Sabres still haven’t had a 3 game winning streak on the year (if they had won tonight, they would have had their first). Bobrovsky is 2-0-0 against Buffalo in his career with a 2.50 GAA.