Both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres entered tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center on three-game losing streaks, but the hosts were able to grab a 3-2 victory to end their skid. Claude Giroux had the game-winning goal just 17 seconds into the second period and Kimmo Timonen had two helpers in the win, while Ilya Bryzgalov had 17 stops for the decision.
It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but the Flyers came out and provided enough of an effort to beat a team as desperate as them to earn points. Although it was their third game in four days, the Orange and Black did show a lot of energy and physicality throughout the win.
“I thought we did a lot of good things tonight,” Peter Laviolette said after the contest. “Smart with the puck and more physical. We established an offensive game plan with more determination.”
Laviolette was also pleased with Philly’s response to their loss yesterday in Boston.
“There’s no excuse for last night. It was not a good effort. The important thing was the response today. To come back out and play a strong game, a physical game.” Here’s the rest of Laviolette after the win against the Sabres.
“It doesn’t take much to understand what’s going on,” Simon Gagne said about the Flyers’ position in the standings. “You look at the standings, and I think everyone came to the locker room today and looked at where we were at and how many games we have left. I’m not good at math but if you look at it we have to win games right now.”
For a second straight game the Flyers held the opposition without a shot for the game’s first several minutes. Today, however, the Orange and Black were able to capitalize with two special teams’ goals.
After Jakub Voracek drew a high-sticking minor out of Robyn Regehr in the neutral zone, Timonen found Gagne on a long stretch pass for the power-play tally.
Timonen possessed the puck at the top of the circles in the Flyers’ zone when he launched a pass right up the middle of the ice to Gagne, who received the disc at the Sabres’ blue line. After he skated to the top of the circles, Gagne snapped a shot that worked its way through Ryan Miller’s five-hole and trickled over the goal line 4:31 into the tilt.
A little over four minutes later, Max Talbot deposited a shorthanded tally to make it a two-goal game.
Wayne Simmonds slashed Andrej Sekera in the back after the Sabres’ blue liner broke up his breakaway attempt. With Simmer in the sin bin, Ruslan Fedotenko started out a shorthanded rush for Philly before he tossed it over to Talbot, who was flying into the slot. Talbot beat Miller for his second of the campaign, as well as a 2-0 Flyers’ lead 11:13 into the opening stanza.
Buffalo cut it to a one-goal game on just their second shot of the game with 8:17 left in the first period.
Brian Flynn grabbed a rebound off a blocked shot from Bruno Gervais and beat Bryzgalov short side to make it 2-1 in favor of Philly.
Giroux regained the Flyers’ two-goal lead early in the second period with his eighth of 2013.
With Jochen Hecht’s high-sticking minor carrying over from the first period, the Orange and Black opened the middle frame on the man advantage. Timonen skated with the puck to the Sabres’ blue line before he turned around and dished a pass to Giroux, who worked his way into the middle of three Sabres and let go of a wrist shot that beat Miller 17 seconds into the middle stanza.
Although there was no more scoring in the second period, things continued to be chippy between the teams.
Zac Rinaldo and Steve Ott exchanged words during a commercial break, which resulted in Ott throwing a punch at Rinaldo. Both players earned unsportsmanlike conduct minors late in the second frame.
In addition to the tandem talking during the break, Ott also laid out Rinaldo without the puck for an interference call in the neutral zone in the final minute of the second period.
Ott also checked Timonen from behind in the Flyers’ zone and talked with Simmonds after the Flyers’ forward whacked away at a loose puck that was near a sprawled out Miller in the middle frame.
In the final three minutes of the second period, Bryzgalov made a huge save on Cody Hodgson to keep it a two-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes. Christian Ehrhoff worked his way to the bottom of the circle to Bryzgalov’s right before he let go of a wrist shot that bounced off of the netminder’s left leg pad and into the slot for Hodgson. The former Vancouver Canuck had a good chunk of the net to shoot at, but Bryzgalov was able to slide over in time to rob the Buffalo forward.
The final period saw the Sabres nearly tie the game. After Ott created an odd-man rush to produce a shorthanded goal from Hecht, Hodgson was robbed for a second time in the contest.
A weak wrist shot from Buffalo’s #19 squeaked through Bryz and was sliding over the goal line when Brayden Schenn swooped in and cleared it away from danger. If the disc had traveled another inch the game would have been tied at three.
“I just remember it was just 2-on-2 from the red line in,” Schenn said about the play. “They shot it, it must have deflected and I actually thought [Bryzgalov] made the save originally. I saw it squeak through. I don’t know how close it was, I haven’t seen the replay yet, but it’s always good to help the goalie out.”
A Luke Schenn minor for boarding Nathan Gerbe with 6:45 left in the tilt put the Flyers’ lead in danger, but the Orange and Black killed off the power play to hang on for the one-goal win at home.
The Flyers will look to win back-to-back games for the first time in March on Wednesday when they visit The Prudential Center to take on the New Jersey Devils.
Notes: Matt Read played in his 100th NHL game tonight. He had two shots on net, one blocked shot, and three takeaways in 18:50 TOI. He has 31 goals and 29 assists in the NHL…With the secondary assist on Gagne’s goal, Bryzgalov now has three assists this season…Talbot’s shorthanded goal in the first was the Flyers’ first shorthanded goal of the season. His shorthanded tally was the Flyers’ first since Giroux’s in Game 4 of the ECSF against the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 postseason ending a 27-game stretch without a goal man down. It also ends a 31-game stretch during the regular season without a shorthanded goal dating back to Read’s in a Flyers’ 7-1 win on March 29th, 2012 …Both Rinaldo and Gagne had a team-high three blocked shots. Regehr had a game-high four blocked shots…With 14 PIMs in today’s win, Rinaldo has 76 in 2013. He is third in the NHL in PIMs sitting behind Brandon Prust, who has 81, and Mike Brown, who has 80…Both Rinaldo and Ott entered the game in the top six across the league in hits. Ott had five hits and now sits second in the NHL with 115, while Rinaldo had five and now sits fifth in the NHL with 100…Ron Rolston is 3-4-1 as interim head coach of the Sabres…Miller registered his 12th loss of the year, which leads the NHL. He and Bryzgalov entered the game tied for the league lead with 11…The Flyers improved to 1-1-0 against the Sabres this season and to 2-5-0 against the Northeast Division (MTL 0-1-0, BOS 0-1-0, TOR 0-2-0, OTT 1-0-0, BUF 1-1-0).