Eight days into April and the Flyers are still looking for their first win of the month after Thomas Vanek scored an overtime goal to give Buffalo a 4-3 win. Nathan Gerbe netted two as Ryan Miller stepped in for Jhonas Enroth to start the third period as the Flyers dropped their fifth straight game. Both Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere had a goal and an assist in the loss as Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves on 29 shots.
For the fourth straight game the Flyers scored the opening goal. This time, it was a one-timer from Scott Hartnell that gave Philly the 1-0 lead. After having a drive to the net denied, Danny Briere received a pass from Sean O’Donnell behind the net. Moving left to right, Briere found Hartnell at the bottom of the circle to the right of Enroth who registered his 22nd of the year 10:24 into the first period.
Philly may have not scored again for the remainder of the first, but they definitely dictated play. Out shooting Buffalo 8-2 in the second half of the first, the Flyers spent most of the remaining time in the Sabres’ defensive zone cycling and producing numerous chances.
The Flyers’ momentum from the first didn’t carry over into the middle stanza. Taking only 25 seconds into the second period, an innocent wrist shot from Nathan Gerbe found it’s way through traffic to tie the game at one. The smallest man on the Buffalo roster made the Sabres’ biggest play yet.
The game wasn’t tied at one for long as Jason Pominville gave Buffalo the lead 3:54 after Gerbe’s marker. Standing at the point, Thomas Vanek found Pominville, who had snuck behind Philly’s defense, allowing the Sabres’ forward to put a high shot past Bobrovsky to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead early in the second period.
Just when it looked like the flood gates were about to open, the Flyers responded back in timely fashion. With Darroll Powe in the sin bin for a delay of game call, Kris Versteeg capitalized on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at two. Ripping his 21st of the season past Enroth, Versteeg’s goal tied the game and ultimately led the Flyers to their second lead of the game.
As Powe left the box, Briere netted his 33rd of the year to give Philly a 3-2 lead. Thanks to a spin-o-rama play by Hartnell at the blue line, Briere received a beautiful cross ice pass that he blasted by Enroth to give Philly two goals in 39 seconds.
As the second period ended, the score remained 3-2, but not without a scare. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, a play that seemed dead resulted in a three-line pass leading to one more scoring chance for the Sabres. Coming in all alone on Bobrovsky, Pominville had a backhand attempt denied by the netminder’s left leg pad.
Trying to change the momentum of the game, Lindy Ruff decided to switch goalies replacing Enroth with Ryan Miller.
Halfway through the third, Gerbe provided in an even more ridiculous goal than his first to tie the game at three. Driving into the shot, Gerbe stopped and spun around putting a backhanded spin-o-rama shot topshelf over Bob’s blocker for his second goal of the game.
Neither team found the back of the net as the game went to overtime, a result that the Sabre fans were happy about as it meant they were in the playoffs.
Shortly after extending the game into overtime, Vanek gave Buffalo the additional point 1:16 into the extra frame. Backhanding a shot past Bobrovsky, Vanek gave the Sabres a 4-3 overtime win in front of their home crowd.
Loss after loss after loss has finally hurt this team to a point they may not recover. With their final regular season game coming against the Islanders tomorrow, the Flyers can still win the division with a win. However, a loss combined with a Penguins’ win means the Flyers drop to fourth and play the Lightning in the first round, a team Philly has struggled with all year long.
Notes: This is the Flyers first 5-game losing streak since March 20th to March 27th last season (0-4-1). The Flyers out scored Buffalo 17-14 this season. In his first career game against Philly, Enroth saved 16 of the 19 shots he faced; this is the first game Miller hasn’t started against Philly since 3/20/09 (Patrick Lalime). With a goal and an assist tonight, Briere has 15 points (7G,8A) in 18 games against his former team. This was Gerbe’s third two-goal game of the season, his first since March 22nd. The Flyers went 2-1-1 against the Sabres this season and went 11-8-1 against the Northeast division in the 2010-2011 season (BOS 1-3-0, MTL 3-1-0, BUF 2-1-1, TOR 3-1-0, OTT 2-2-0); they went 1-2-1 against the Sabres last season and 9-9-2 against the Northeast last year (BUF 1-2-1, OTT 1-3-0, BOS 2-1-1, MTL 2-2-0, TOR 3-1-0).