The Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres are two teams fighting for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tuesday’s contest between these two teams may be considered an elimination game of sorts in a nationally televised matchup.
The Flyers (30-26-8) are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals this past Saturday. Philadelphia did manage to win two crucial games before the loss, with a 4-0 win over Colorado and a 2-1 shootout victory against the Panthers.
Wayne Simmonds spoke to the media after practice on Tuesday stating, “These are the games that you want to be a part of when you’re battling for a playoff spot. You want to be playing against teams who are gonna affect the standings and that’s what we have. Buffalo’s a little behind us, we need to put a little bit of space there. Toronto, we can stop them from getting two points. Boston, same thing. These are huge games for us.”
With Simmonds being a vocal leader for the Flyers, his comments must have been heard throughout this game. The Flyers dominated the Sabres, thrashing them 6-3. Steve Mason who saved the Flyers postseason hopes, was 2-0-1 in his previous three games before getting the nod again against the Sabres.
The Flyers got off to the start they wanted. They found themselves out shooting the Sabres 5-2 within the first two minutes, when Pierre Bellemare fought Nicolas Deslauriers. Bellemare wanted to show the Sabres just 2:41 into the opening stanza that they meant business.
With Buffalo struggling to gain momentum against the high flying Flyers, Matt Read took a high wrist shot over Lehner’s left arm for a 1-0 Flyers lead. It was Read’s 8th goal of the year.
Brayden Schenn took the first penalty of the night for the Flyers just 4:50 into the period. The Sabres registered three shots on net, but Mason made all three saves keeping the score 1-0 Flyers.
Josh Gorges took an interference penalty just 11:52 into the first period. The Flyers managed two shots on net, but Lehner made both saves keeping the score 1-0 Flyers.
Matt Read took a hooking penalty with 4:50 remaining in the first period. On the ensuing power play, Cody Franson took a shot from the point that was easily saved by Mason. Evander Kane tracked down the rebound, and placed the puck past Mason tying the game at 1. It was Kane’s 15th goal of the year.
The first period came to a close with the game tied at 1. The Flyers out shot the Sabres 16-10, and they also won the faceoff margin 55%-45%.
Radko Gudas caused an early Sabres turn over when Cody Franson tried entering the Flyers zone. He followed the play into the Sabres zone, and he scored off a wrist shot from the top of the right for circle for a 2-1 Flyers lead.
Pierre Bellemare was called for a too many men on the ice penalty at 12:48 in the second period. The Sabres made no mistake, as Jack Eichel scored off a high wrist shot over Mason’s left arm just 12 seconds into the power play tying the game at 2.
The Flyers were flying early in the second period, as they tried taking control of the game. Jakub Voracek and Jordan Weal lead a rush into the Sabres zone. Voracek threaded a pass over to Weal, but the puck bounced off his skate past Lehner for a 3-2 Flyers lead. It was Weal’s second career goal.
Late in the second period, Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal lead a Flyers odd man rush into the Sabres zone. Michael Del Zotto took a slap shot from the point, and Lehner made the save. Giroux found the rebound, and placed the puck past Lehner giving the Flyers a 4-2 lead.
The second period ended with a 4-2 Flyers lead. The Flyers outshot the Sabres 9-8 for the period, but lost the faceoff margin 54%-46%.
The Flyers began the third period, where they ended the second period. Del Zotto ripped a slap shot past Lehner, off a Flyers faceoff win. This made the score 5-2 Flyers just 2:45 into the third period.
Buffalo tried everything to get the Flyers off their game, but the Flyers kept pouring on the heat. Travis Konecny made a nice move into the Sabres zone at 14:39 in the third period. He placed the puck past Lehner for a 6-2 Flyers lead. It was Konecny’s 8th goal of the year.
Travis Konecny took a hooking penalty at 10:51 in the third period. The Sabres registered three shots on net, but Mason had the answers keeping the score 6-2 Flyers.
The Flyers had everything going for them in the third period, until a turn over lead to a Sabres goal. With 5:10 remaining in the period, Jack Eichel scored off a wrist shot from the left circle cutting the Flyers deficit to 6-3.
What an effort by the Flyers, as the game ended in their favor 6-3. Buffalo outshot the Flyers 34-30, but they lost the faceoff margin 53%-47%.
Steve Mason was superb again in net making 28 saves, earning his team a much needed two points for the playoff chase. The Flyers will have to continue to get good goaltending, and their role players will have to continue to have success in order to make the playoffs. They still remain three points back in the wild card standings, as the New York Islanders defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 last night. Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports