The Philadelphia Flyers took on the Buffalo Sabres in front of 2,838 fans on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. They came from behind to defeat the Sabres 5-4 to earn their 13th win of the season. With the victory, the Flyers stayed within one point of the 4th-place Boston Bruins as they try to claw back into a playoff berth in the grueling East Division.
Philadelphia got things kicked off early in this one against the Sabres, who were without star center and captain Jack Eichel for this game. James van Riemsdyk rifled home his 11th goal of the season off of a great one-time feed across the slot from Joel Farabee to beat Buffalo netminder Jonas Johansson and open the scoring just 1:56 into the game. This was his first goal in five games dating back to Philadelphia’s last matchup against Buffalo, back on February 28th.
The Sabres would answer just 3 minutes and 37 seconds later as Sam Reinhart scored a one-time goal of his own. Rookie Dylan Cozens dished a pass by defender Ivan Provorov and onto Reinhart’s open stick and to beat Carter Hart high to the glove side to tie the game.
The Sabres would capitalize on their newfound energy, despite the Flyers’ best efforts, as Riley Sheahan potted only his 3rd goal of the year after a defensive breakdown during a line change. A sloppy rebound from Eric Staal’s initial shot bounced right in front of the crease and was backhanded into the cage by the unguarded Sheahan for a 2-1 Sabres lead just before the halfway point of the period.
Reinhart was apparently not satisfied with his performance just yet, and he extended Buffalo’s lead to 3-1. Taylor Hall, who burst into the zone with the puck, skated behind the net with it and delivered a perfect pass to Reinhart. He was virtually alone in the slot as Travis Konecny was very lackadaisical in his defensive effort on the play, scoring his 2nd goal of the evening. The period would end at a 3-1 score, and Hart would be replaced in goal by Brian Elliott to start the second period to try and shift the momentum into the Flyers’ favor.
Sure enough, Philadelphia struck early again for the second straight period as Kevin Hayes buried his 9th goal of the year less than three minutes into the frame. Hayes jumped off the bench and joined Scott Laughton for a rush into the Buffalo zone. Laughton would pull off a nifty dangle on Brandon Montour to get the puck to Hayes, who beat Johansson upstairs to pull within a goal and make it a 3-2 game.
Just as what happened in the first period, Buffalo would respond shortly afterwards in the second as well. Montour would get his revenge just 3:22 after Hayes’ goal with a tally of his own. His first of the season of the season ramped up the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere and eluded Elliott’s head to make it 4-2 in favor of Buffalo.
The Flyers would keep clawing back in this one and didn’t show quit. Claude Giroux fought off the net-front checking of Henri Jokiharju, received a beautiful feed from Jake Voráček, and deposited the puck into the Buffalo net to once again shave the Sabres’ lead to just one goal. For once Philadelphia would not give up a goal immediately after scoring one of their own, and Elliott would come up with some important saves to keep the score at 4-3 as they headed into the locker room for the 2nd intermission.
The third period was largely uneventful for about the first 8 minutes of it. Philadelphia had the better of the scoring chances and led over Buffalo in shots on goal, and even hit some posts along the way. Both Johansson and Elliott stood tall for their respective clubs. The Flyers finally got their chance to even things up later on and they capitalized in a big way as. Temporarily ended their power play woes, Sean Couturier worked in the zone and drew two Buffalo defenders towards him, which allowed him to pass the puck to the top of the zone. The effort was rewarded with a patented Shayne Gostisbehere bullet that was slapped home on a one-time laser from the left point and through traffic.
The Flyers finally pulled even at 4-4 with 5:46 to play in the third. Philadelphia would take an offensive zone penalty later in the period as Jake Voráček was called for tripping on Taylor Hall, and the Sabres would have an opportunity to score a late game-winner. Fortunately, the Flyers would successfully kill off Voráček’s minor and they would force overtime.
The opening draw of the extra stanza was won and controlled by Philadelphia, and the Flyers immediately created a scoring chance but couldn’t make it work. After a brief stay in the Philadelphia defensive zone, the Sabres turned the puck over and allowed Sean Couturier to race away with it on a breakaway. The chance was stopped by Jonas Johansson and the young Swede kept the game alive for Buffalo.
The Sabres would go down and have their own chances to win the game but Elliott made some great saves to keep Buffalo off the board again. Neither team would score and to the shootout we went. Sean Couturier would shoot first for the Flyers, who elected to go first. Couturier faked a forehand shot and then fired one blocker side to give Philadelphia the early 1-0 edge.
Rasmus Dahlin would shoot first for Buffalo and was promptly denied on his attempt by Brian Elliott. Nolan Patrick would shoot next for the Flyers and would make no mistake as he moved in on net and wired the puck over the glove of Johansson and tickled the twine to make it 2-0 and really put the pressure on the Sabres. Elliott would put the final touches on the victory by stopping Casey Mittelstadt to help complete the Flyers’ comeback effort.
3 STARS – 1. Sean Couturier (PHI), 2. Sam Reinhart (BUF), 3. Claude Giroux (PHI)