After back to back wins against the Islanders and the Blues the Flyers look to make it three in a row against the Buffalo Sabres. Last time these two teams met the Flyers were just coming off a good win vs Detroit. In that game, the Flyers started out flat and the only player that kept them in the game was Brian Elliott. The game ended with the Sabres winning 4 – 2.
This game started out the same as the last time these two teams met with the Flyers allowing the Sabres to drive the play. The Flyers looked like they were taking a leisurely Sunday skate before the break. The Flyers also got into penalty trouble in the first where they picked up two penalties almost back to back. The Flyers were able to kill both minors off but their lackluster play only generated five shots on goal for the period.
The second period started out as the first period did with the Flyers just not having their skating legs. After Andrew MacDonald picked up a hooking minor against Zemgus Girgensons it looked like this game was going to be a copy of the game in Buffalo on Dec 22. Buffalo only needed 50 seconds to make the game 1 – 0 when Ryan O’Reilly picked up his third goal in three games against the Flyers this season.
The Buffalo goal woke the Flyers up and cause them to play harder. Just under two minutes later the Shayne Gostisbehere broke up a Sabres rush and sent the Flyers on the attack. After two good passes, Scott Laughton sent a pass to Gostisbehere who snapped a wrist shot by Robin Lehner to tie the game at 1 – 1.
The Flyers goal and play turned the tide of the game and this time it was the Sabres who looked a step behind and gave the Flyers a power play when Scott Wilson picked up a penalty for holding Radko Gudas. The Flyers wasted no time with the man advantage and 20 seconds in Sean Couturier picked up his career-high 22nd goal of the season to give the Flyers a 2 – 1 lead.
The Flyers kept pressing and had numerous scoring chances. After making great saves on Travis Konecny and Couturier Lehner made a highlight reel save on Wayne Simmonds. If not for the play of Lehner the Flyers could have easily gone into the third period with a four-goal lead.
The third period seemed like both teams were playing more not to lose than to win the game. Both teams sat back in the neutral zone and dumped pucks in the zone with little to no pressure on the forecheck. The Flyers even went as far as to shorten their bench with over ten minutes to go in the game. The coaching staff sat Nolan Patrick a trend that seems to happen no matter how big of a lead the Flyers take into the third. Also, the defensive pairing of Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov was split up in favor of MacDonald playing most of the key defensive zone face-offs.
The shakeup seemed to stop all the momentum the Flyers had after a great second period. The Flyers spent the last half of the third either sending the puck down for an icing or chasing the Sabres who were able to hold the puck in the Flyers zone the majority of the period. The Flyers were able to hold on and when the Sabres pulled Lehner for the extra attacker the Flyers score goals by Provorov and Couturier to seal the win for the Flyers.
The Flyers enter the NHL mandatory week off so they will not play another game until they face the New Jersey Devils on Jan 13. Th Flyers record is 111 W 97 L 18 T 12 OTL all-time against the devils and only managed one win last year against the Devils. The Flyers have seemed to have a hard time getting back into action after a break. They came out of breaks for Christmas and New Years with disappointing games against both Florida and Pittsburgh. We will see on Saturday if this lay off has the same effect as the last two.