A depleted and downtrodden Buffalo Sabres team hosted the Flyers for an early afternoon matchup. The Flyers found themselves recharged, with several players returning to the lineup after spending time in COVID protocol. The Sabres found themselves the other way, playing without their captain as Jack Eichel would remain out due to injury.
The first period was fairly uneventful for a while, with both teams trading chances, each getting time on the power play. Little was going the Sabres’ way, with the Flyers dominating in the faceoff circle and winning the possession and shot battles.
This pressure finally payed off when Travis Sanheim drove to the slot before finding Sean Couturier a blasted one past Carter Hutton for the first goal of the game.
This goal extended Couturier’s point streak to five games, totaling 4 goals and 5 assists in that time.
Early in the second period the Sabres managed to set up nicely in the Flyers’ zone, but were unable to muster many quality chances. The Flyers on the other hand, managed to pour shots on when given the opportunity. They had 26 shots by the end of the frame to the Sabres’ 14. Hutton looked strong for the majority of the period. After Shayne Gostisbhere scored five-hole, the Buffalo defense seemed to come unglued.
The Flyers had a number of quality chances, and Scott Laughton was able to find the twine after a long pass from Oskar Lindblom, both of whom were making their return to the lineup this afternoon. The Sabres showed some life offensively as the period wound down, but Brian Elliott stood tall, sending the Flyers to the third period with a three goal lead.
The Sabres came out quickly in the final frame, getting a few quality chances, but momentum swung back the Flyers’ way, as Hutton made a couple of fantastic saves to keep the Sabres within three. Rallying around their goaltender’s performance, the Sabres immediately put the press on the Flyers defense as Casey Mittelstadt found iron. However, no one was able to solve Elliott.
With 30 seconds left in the game Robert Hagg took a penalty, and the Sabres surged with three great opportunities, but as he had all game, Elliott stood tall, pitching his second straight shutout against the Sabres this season.
The defense really came out strong for the Flyers today, only allowing 23 shots in the game, all of which Elliott managed to fend off. Similarly, their struggling penalty kill came up big, blanking the Sabres on their three attempts. Most notably for the Flyers though is how all the COVID returnees certainly seemed like they haven’t lost a step, with several finding the score sheet, and the remainder having a very strong game.
The Flyers played a complete game, dominating the Sabres at both ends of the ice, and will be looking to repeat that tomorrow, as they take on the Sabres again at 3 PM on Sunday.