Less than ten days after the Philadelphia Flyers shutout sweeping of the Sabres in Buffalo, the Sabres traveled to Philadelphia for their fifth meeting. Philadelphia currently owns a 3-1-0 series record against the Sabres. Jack Eichel, nursing an upper-body injury, was ruled out of this game the morning before.
Alain Vigneault elected to dress seven defensemen and slotted Erik Gustafsson on the fourth line with Nolan Patrick and Nic Aube-Kubel. Connor Bunnaman was the lone forward watching from the press box during last night’s game.
James van Riemsdyk got the Flyers’ scoring on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play between his linemates Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee. The Sabres would answer minutes later as Sam Reinhart continues to stay hot with his tenth goal of the season.
Flyers continued to pepper shots at Jonas Johansson, but the Sabres decided that they wouldn’t go down without a fight. Riley Sheahan potted the go-ahead goal for the Sabres. Late in the first period, Sam Reinhart scored his second of the night to extend the lead to 3-1. That would conclude the first-period scoring and the Flyers started the second with a minute power play.
The Flyers failed to score on the early powerplay, and we also had a goaltending change as Carter Hart took a seat after allowing three goals on eight shots. Scott Laughton connected with Kevin Hayes on a beautiful backhanded pass to crawl back within a goal of the Sabres lead. Once again, the Sabres fought back and claimed their two-goal lead with a snipe by Brandon Montour.
Failing to score on their second attempt at the man advantage (shocker there), seconds later, Voracek found Giroux on the doorstep for a slam dunk goal. Getting a pumped-up goal from your captain will surely give you some life to start the third period.
With a stale period, the third was heavily in favor of the Flyers as they played in the Buffalo zone more often than not. Late in the third period, the Flyers were handed a power play which they finally converted with a Shayne Ghostisbehere blast from the point to knot the game at four apiece.
Tested with a late penalty kill with less than two and a half minutes to play, the Flyers had to dig deep if they wanted to remain tied with the Sabres. Killing the penalty, the Flyers played a mad scramble for 24 seconds before the regulation clock ran out and the teams went to overtime. 65 minutes wouldn’t do it for the Sabres and Flyers’ fifth matchup headed to the shootout.
With an important two points on the line and a tremendous comeback, Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick scored in the shootout as Brian Elliot blanked both attempts by the Sabres. It was a must-win game, but the Flyers should have never fallen behind a team like the Buffalo Sabres.
Flyers vs. Sabres: Three Takeaways
Stick Up For Your Teammates
Early on in the first period, Scott Laughton got dumped while taking a center ice faceoff and had to be helped off the ice. He eventually came back out to play, but watching the replays (especially the slow-motion ones), made you worried about whether he would come back out to play.
Of course, no penalty was called because we all know how the referees in Philadelphia are. “Hey Alexa, cue the ‘Ref You Suck’ chant!”. Regardless of there being no penalty called, someone on the ice should have made Curtis Lazar pay for his actions. Instead, they all skated away as if none of them saw what happened.
The team that used to identify themselves as the Broad Street Bullies should reconsider their nickname to Broad Street Pansies. There have been multiple times this season where teams take liberties at the Flyers and get away with it. This team has become soft, and something needs to change.
Laughts to Talk About
When the Sergeant returned to the ice after that flipping early on in the first period, he was the most noticeable player on the ice. Skating everywhere on the ice, Scott Laughton was physical and played an all-around great game. Being down 3-1 in the game, Laughton pulled a magic trick out of his stock to dangle the defenseman and dish the puck to Hayes for a goal.
Being reunited with the Bash Brothers of Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes really elevates Laughton’s game to another level. He still maintains a defensive-minded game but turns it on the offensive jets whenever it is needed. Laughton contributed in other subtle ways, such as drawing penalties and getting in the way of high danger shots.
G, You Love To See It
Claude Giroux has started to come into mid-season form as he is playing like the leader that everyone expects to see out of him. The Giroux haters should shut up and sit down. Captain G is starting to heat up and at the right time too.
With four points in just as many games, Giroux has become more noticeable when he is on the ice. Getting back into his midseason form will be beneficial to the Flyers as they will need his leadership and production in the second half of the season. The schedule will only get harder, and the younger players will depend on Giroux to step up and rise to another level.
With every goal that Giroux scores, you can see the intensity in his eyes that fires up the rest of his teammates. His goal shortly after the powerplay was exactly the spark that this team needed to begin the comeback. Claude Giroux has been the face of this team for a long time. Don’t expect him to go anywhere soon.
A sprint to the end, the Flyers desperately needed these two points against the Sabres. Before the game had started, they were on the outside looking in at the four playoff spots of the East Division. With Pittsburgh winning another game against the Rangers, the Flyers remain two points behind them.
Their next upcoming games against the Washington Capitals will test what this team can really bring to the table. An important four points are on the table between these two teams, so expect the high emotions and physicality. With how Carter Hart has been playing as of late, expect Brian Elliot to be the blue paint man as he has the hot hand.
Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire