Flyers Smother Sabres For Second Straight Game

Feb 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Nolan Patrick (19) deflects a shot on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson (34) during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Nolan Patrick (19) deflects a shot on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson (34) during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Flyers, led by Carter Hart, shut out the Sabres. The Flyers were able to strangle the Sabres offense for the first two periods, and then run the clock in final frame. It was a solid, if misleading, corsi performance for the team.

First Period

CF:13 CA:10 CF%:56.52% Zone Entry NO chances (ZENO):5

In a period that ended scoreless, the Flyers would seize a slight edge in possession, out-chancing the Sabres by three. They were able to neutralize most of the Sabres’ rushes into the offensive zone, particularly when they were beginning from deep in their own end.

When the Flyers gained the zone with possession, but failed to register a chance,  the Sabres were able to transition successfully and produce offense. The Flyers were more less willing to dump and chase than in the previous meeting, opting for controlled entrances attempts.

The Hayes-Giroux- Patrick line dominated their shifts, grabbing an 8-1 CF advantage by the periods end and generally dominating their four and a half minutes of  5 V 5 ice times.

Second period

CF:25 CA:11 CF%:69.44% (ZENO):4

The second period has been a struggle at times for the Flyers, dogged by bad line changes, too many men on the ice penalties and goals resulting from extended shifts.  Sunday’s game would be a complete reversal of their struggles. The Flyers’ CF of 69.44% confirmed a dominating performance.

They would grab a two-goal lead in the first two minutes of the second. After the second goal by Michael Raffl, the Sabres gave their most spirited effort against the Hayes line. They collected four chances, all of them dangerous, culminating with a goal mouth pileup, with Hart on his knees and uncovered Bandon Montour hammering a slapshot from the circle. Hart was up to the task and froze the puck.

After that point, the Flyers almost completely smothered the Sabres. The only other chance of consequence was from a botched Flyers’  4-on-2, that failed to generate a chance due to a bad pass by Nolan Patrick. The Sabres were able to counter immediately with a 2-on-1 of their own. Hart was able to explode across the crease to rob Kyle Oposo of what looked to be a slam dunk.

The Flyers would settle down, and JVR would score on a nice deflection to give the team a 3-0 lead, which would be the final margin.

Third Period

CF:6 CA:14 CF%:30 ZENO:4

The final period saw the Flyers turn off the pressure and urgency. The Sabres generated chances, several  of high quality, and the Flyers were lucky not to concede a couple of goals.

While the Sabres never really got close on the scoreboard, the Flyers hurt themselves often and it is reflected in the metrics. The inability to get the puck deep was an issue.  Too many times they failed to get the puck past center ice, which allowed the Sabres to quickly return. The speedy turnabout did not give the Flyers time to protect the blue line and allowed for the Sabres to gain the zone with speed and possession, which lead to Sabres’ chances.

The ZENOs also presented a problem. Of the four in the period, only one could be considered a “good” ZENO, which resulted in a thirty second cycle in the offensive zone.  The others led to turnovers and odd man opportunities for Buffalo. When draining the clock, the team is better served by dumping the puck in deep and making their opponent run the gauntlet to get offensive chances.

Corsi Winner

PHI C/RW Nolan Patrick CF:14 CA:5 CF% 73.68%

This kind of engagement from Patrick has been nice to see. His numbers were carried by his 8-1 first period advantage and were likely diminished somewhat by the team’s approach in the third period. This is an encouraging sign, but there is more work for Patrick to do, with the botched 4 on 2 top of mind.

Corsi loser

BUF C Cody Eakin CF:2 CA:10 CF% 16.67%

It was rough night for Eakin, who was out chanced by every Flyers combination he faced. Eakin only showed a brief spark in the second period, where he was on ice for two CF chances.


CF:44 CA:35  CF%: 55:70 %

The numbers indicate an advantage for the Flyers, but do not capture the story of the game. After two periods the Flyers had a 38-22 advantage and had thoroughly outplayed the Sabres. The third period was an obvious change in strategy where they abandoned their offense in exchange for sound defensive position while waiting out the clock. What might statistically appear to be a reasonably competitive game, it ended as anything but that.