Flyers control pace, not scoreboard vs. Sabres

Flyers' Carter Hart
Buffalo Sabres’ Brandon Biro, bottom, collides with Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart, left, and Cam Atkinson after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This one stings.

Creating many scoring chances and minimizing the number of opportunities from the Buffalo Sabres (5-5-0) didn’t translate to a win. The Philadelphia Flyers (4-5-1) had an overwhelming advantage in shot totals, 40-15, but couldn’t finish (especially on the powerplay, again.)

“Everyone wants to score goals. One of my biggest things I always say to everyone, ‘if we’re getting chances, we’re doing the right things, they’re going to go in.’ It’s when you start cheating and thinking that you’re going to get chances, and it’s in the back of our net, but we have a lot of great players on our team, whether you’re a young guy or a little bit older. We just have to bear down a little bit harder on our opportunities, and our powerplay’s gotta step up a little bit.”

Cam Atkinson; 11/1/2023

These two teams face off again on Friday but at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo. Despite new adversity, the fight from the lineup was furious. Here’s how tonight unraveled at the Wells Fargo Center:

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres

Joel Farabee put the Flyers out to an early lead. Travis Sanheim sent the outlet pass to Farabee from behind Carter Hart in the defensive zone. Farabee entered on offense and opted to take the shot on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The puck deflected off Henri Jokiharju and past Luukkonen, 1-0, with 19:05 remaining in the first period.

A few minutes later, Farabee entered on offense again. He tried to pass across the ice, but John-Jason Peterka deflected the pass. Jeff Skinner hit the puck out of the air to jump the transition, pushing his line against Yegor Zamula while Bobby Brink backchecked. The middle of the ice wasn’t defended with Zamula at the center of a three-on-one, leaving Casey Mittelstadt with a point-blank quick stick past Hart, 1-1, with 16:22 remaining in the first period.

Kyle Okposo was checked into Hart along the crease. Team trainers came onto the ice, but Hart initially remained in the game. He didn’t face a ton of shots to shake off that moment with Okposo, and Skinner sensed he was wounded. Peterka entered on offense before the puck crossed into the offensive zone, resulting in an offsides ruling when Skinner scored. John Tortorella is 3/3 this season when using a coach’s challenge.

Brandon Biro scored his first NHL goal not long after the successful challenge from Tortorella. Tage Thompson chipped the puck into the slot from behind Hart in the defensive zone, where Biro dove and hit the puck into the net, 1-2, with 10:00 remaining in the first period. After this scoring play, Hart did not return with a mid-body injury. Tortorella didn’t have an update after the game, and Sam Ersson replaced Hart for 50:00 of regulation time.

Cam Atkinson tied the game, 2-2, with 3:43 remaining in the first period. He entered on offense, then passed to Sanheim for the shot. Sanheim didn’t successfully shoot, and the puck did find Atkinson for a deflection past Luukkonen. Nicolas Deslauriers and Louie Belpedio had an opportunity after the Atkinson goal to take the lead. Luukkonen denied Deslauriers with his pad, closing off any opening at the post.

Morgan Frost and Tyson Foerster kept working on their chemistry. Generating an opportunity, Frost tipped a small touch pass to set up Foerster with a shot, but Jacob Bryson blocked it. The design was preferred for Foerster, but Bryson got into the shooting lane to help Luukkonen. Almost immediately after Bryson blocked the shot, Frost was credited with a hit on him. Later in the period, Frost forced a takeaway on the forecheck, excelling in even-strength details Tortorella requires.

“We created over twenty, twenty-five scoring chances. What we need to do is just stay with it, and I think that’s the most important thing; not overthink it, just continue to try to play the right way, and I thought for a good portion of the game, we did. [We] checked well, jammed the neutral zone, [and] had a ton of chances. Give the goalie [Luukkonen] credit, he played a good game.”

John Tortorella; 11/1/2023

Still tied, 2-2, at the beginning of the third period, Ersson kept his team in reach. He saved 12/12 shots on goal since filling in for Hart. Ersson showed that he can jump out to a manageable pace in a pinch, which is what you want from a backup goaltender.

“It’s tough as a goalie coming in a little bit cold. He gave us a chance. Not much he could do on the last two. They were good shots by good players.”

Scott Laughton; 11/1/2023

Sanheim dumped the puck deep into the offensive zone with Sean Couturier and Owen Tippett in coverage. Rasmus Dahlin played the puck back around the boards, breaking the containment from Cam York. Thompson cut up ice, into the defensive zone, then dropped a pass to Owen Power who scored the eventual game-winning goal, 2-3, with 16:57 remaining in the third period.

“We’re a little bit deep, a little bit flat with our forecheck. I don’t think York should pinch there; it’s just too late of a pinch on the strong side. They score; they capitalize. After the first period, they had seven or eight shots, but the rest of the game, two or three scoring chances, and they scored.”

John Tortorella; 11/1/2023

Scott Laughton and Garnet Hathaway pushed on a late rush, but Luukkonen denied Hathaway the chance to knot the score. Luukkonen stood on his head, taking on waves of rushes from Philadelphia. Foerster had another great opportunity on a one-timer, but Luukkonen just got a piece of the puck to force it wide of the net.

Luukkonen held his ground against a bevy of scoring chances, and he was rewarded for his monstrous effort between the pipes. Sanheim played the puck to Noah Cates in the defensive zone, attempting to exit. Instead, Cates tried to clear the puck out of the zone, but turned it over to Alex Tuch. Immediately, Tuch saw Thompson with a step on offense after recovering the puck, made the pass, and Thompson extended the lead, 2-4, with 6:32 remaining in the third period.

Biro added his second NHL goal, and of the game, scoring the empty-net insurance, 2-5, with 3:08 remaining in the third period. After his performance, he averages a goal per game in his NHL infancy.

Up Next

Next up, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, November 3rd, at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)