Following a poor performance on Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers blank the Buffalo Sabres, 3-0. Brian Elliott earns his 41st shutout.
For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers elected to start Brian Elliott. He replaced Carter Hart after a nightmare start on Monday night. Alain Vigneault offered a new look, and it paid off. The Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 3-0. Here’s how it all took place from the Wells Fargo Center.
Similar to last night, Philadelphia won the opening draw. This time, the opening faceoff victory was credited to Scott Laughton. In the beginning stages of the period, the Flyers found themselves on a two-man disadvantage. Robert Hagg served a minor penalty for interference followed by Michael Raffl for high sticking. The first opportunity for the Philadelphia penalty kill was an impressive one, killing the Sabres’ two-man advantage.
Through the midway point of the first period, the Flyers led in shots on goal. Last night, that was a statistic Philadelphia never had a lead. They would take that into their first powerplay opportunity as Jeff Skinner received a minor penalty for tripping. Of course, Travis Konecny chirped as Skinner went into the box. The Sabres would successfully kill that penalty.
Elliott had an impressive first period, shutting down Jack Eichel on a high-percentage powerplay opportunity. It was the total opposite of Hart’s struggle the first time these two teams met on Monday. He’s on a one-year contract after an agreed pay cut. Without a doubt, Elliott is one of the best options to back up a goaltender that the NHL has to offer.
Laughton was back on the opening draw of the second period. In the opening minutes, Ivan Provorov crashes the net and loses his footing. Play stopped while the Buffalo trainers check on Carter Hutton. Inside of the net, Provorov received a sucker punch from Brandon Montour as he was on the ice. Hutton stays in the game, but the tension is starting to boil early on.
The Sabres had more scoring opportunities through the halfway point of regulation but couldn’t convert. Dylan Cozens and Colin Miller had shots ring off the post. Nolan Patrick was a hair late and a few inches short of scoring the game’s first goal. Not too long after, Philadelphia was back on the penalty kill. Elliott deserves a lot of credit for keeping Buffalo off the scoreboard to this point.
In the final stages of the second period, Oskar Lindblom sent a beautiful lead pass off the boards to allow Konecny a chance to make a break. He did just that, beating Hutton at the five-hole. The breakaway goal was the fourth of the season for Konecny. Patrick gained assist credit as the secondary man. To finish the period, leading 1-0, the Flyers went on the powerplay after Rasmus Ristolainen was booked for roughing.
Philadelphia is unable to score on their powerplay opportunity to begin the period. The Sabres remove Hutton from the game and insert Jonas Johansson instead. It’s a curious decision to put Johansson in, bypassing Linus Ullmark. Buffalo carried three goaltenders on their roster tonight. Hutton would not return.
Credit goes to Vigneault and his coaching staff. After an abysmal Monday night, the Flyers returned the favor with three good periods of hockey. They needed every bit of that effort because the Sabres are improved from a year ago. Throughout this season, they’re only going to become better.
Philadelphia has more than doubled the blocked shot total Buffalo has. It is a statistic that led to another offensive possession by the Flyers. This time around, Jakub Voracek slapped a one-timer by Johansson, set up by Hayes. With just around five minutes left, Philadelphia led, 2-0. Elliott would hang on to secure his first victory and shutout of the young season as Hayes scored an empty-net goal.
Three Stars from the Flyers win
Up next for the Flyers
Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers battle the Boston Bruins for the first time this season. That game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia at 7pm. It will be the first road game of 2020-2021 for the Flyers.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre