It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Flyers did manage to pull out a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the First Niagara Center. Vincent Lecavalier ended a 13-game goal drought by beating a flopping Jhonas Enroth with just 14.8 seconds left in regulation for the game-winning goal. Scott Hartnell had a three-point performance in the victory and Wayne Simmonds provided a pair of assists, while Steve Mason recorded just 16 saves for the decision.
Although he suffered the loss, Enroth did more than enough to win, as he provided a 29-save effort in a noteworthy performance for the hosts. Cody Hodgson and Matt D’Agostini each had a goal and an assist in the defeat, while Steve Ott had two assists.
In a third period that saw four goals scored in the final 6:32 of regulation, the Orange and Black managed to walk away with two points thanks to a tally from Lecavalier. After Sean Couturier nearly potted the game-winner himself seconds before, he was able to fend off a defender for the puck while Matt Read grabbed possession of the disc below the goal line. Read, in his first game back from a six-game break due to injury, found Lecavalier at the top of the circle to Enroth’s right. Lecavalier released a shot that found its way through several Sabres and beat a sprawled out Enroth, who was on the ice from Couturier’s attempt.
Facing a team that is dead last in the league in scoring goals and facing a backup goaltender, tonight’s win wasn’t exactly beautiful. It is two points against a team the Orange and Black should have grabbed two points from, but the Flyers will need to provide better performances over the next week if they want to keep finding wins. That being said, it turned out to be an exciting win that the team needed to end a two-game skid.
Hodgson opened the scoring 6:59 into the game, as he was left wide open in the slot and produced a nice move to beat Mason for his ninth of 2013-2014. Ott found Hodgson open in the slot with a pass from the corner to Mason’s right, as Philly’s netminder was left hanging by his defenseman for the early deficit.
Shortly after Hodgson’s tally, Enroth made an amazing save on a backhand attempt from Claude Giroux. Caught out of position and unable to see the puck through traffic in front, Enroth dove across the crease and got just enough of his blocker on a shot from Giroux to keep it a one-goal game. Philly couldn’t solve Enroth for the remainder of the first period, as they headed into the second down by one.
It didn’t take long for the Orange and Black to tie it up in the second frame, as Voracek slammed home a beautiful cross-ice pass from Simmonds on the man advantage. The tally was Voracek’s 13th of the season and made it a 1-1 game just 1:40 into the second period.
Despite outshooting the Sabres 12-7 in the second period and 18-12 through 40 minutes, the Orange and Black couldn’t grab the lead before the start of the third period.
In the third period, D’Agostini provided an improbable redirection on an Ott cross-ice feed to make it 2-1 Sabres with 13:33 left in regulation. After Ott provided a few big hits to give Buffalo puck possession, the gritty forward sent a pass from the point to Mason’s left to the opposite side of the ice, where D’Agostini dove to get his stick on the pass and beat the goaltender low.
After severe pressure from the Flyers following D’Agostini’s tally, the visitors received some luck to equalize the game at two with 6:32 left in regulation. A weird serious of bounces led to the puck traveling from the corner to the right of Enroth to the bottom of the circle on the opposite side of the ice, where Brayden Schenn was able to hit a wide open net for his 12th of the campaign.
It took Hartnell all of 2:25 to give the Flyers their first lead of the game, as Simmonds set him up beautifully for a one-timer at the bottom of the circle to Enroth’s right. Hartnell was able to find the far top corner to give Philly a brief lead before Tyler Ennis tied the tilt less than a minute later.
Ennis was able to squeak home his 10th of the season with a shot just above the goal line with 3:13 remaining before Lecavalier’s last-minute game-winner.
The Flyers will look for a better effort in a home game against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
Notes: Read had the primary assist on the game-winning goal in his first game back. He was also plus-1 with a shot on goal in 18:42 TOI…Hartnell recorded his second three-point game of the season, as he had the same stat line in the Flyers’ 6-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on December 4th, 2013…Tonight was Simmonds’ eighth multi-point game of the season. It was his fourth multi-assist game of the year…D’Agostini recorded his 100th NHL point on Hodgson’s goal in the first period…Philly improved to 2-0-0 against the Sabres this season. They are 16-12-3 against the Eastern Conference and 8-6-1 against the Atlantic Division…The Flyers improved to 24-19-4. They were 22-22-3 after 47 games last season.