BUFFALO - Vincent Lecavalier picked the right time to end a seven-week scoring drought.
Lecavalier scored with 14.8 seconds left in regulation to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Tuesday night. Matt Read dug the puck out behind the net and fed Lecavalier, whose one-timer from the top of the left circle beat sprawled goalie Jhonas Enroth after a flurry of chances in the Sabres' end.
"It was kind of loose between [Sean] Couturier's skates and I pulled it out and I was just looking for an open guy and Vinny kind of popped out and it worked out well." Read said. "We'll take the two points."
It was Lecavalier's 10th goal of the season but his first since Nov. 27.
"It felt good," Lecavalier said. "They've been hard to come by since I got back from my injury. Hopefully sometimes they'll go like that. We'll kind of, I don't want to say jumpstart, just get more confidence and keep going, but it was huge for the team. It probably wasn't our best game, but we came back again. We showed a lot of will and a lot of confidence in our play in the third period."
Lecavalier's goal capped a wild third period in which the teams combined to score five goals after playing to a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes.
"It's not a wasted opportunity," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "I think it's just one of those things, the last goal, one of our defenseman knocks a guy, knocks down our goaltender, they get a shot and it goes through four guys to find the net. It's just one of those things, it just wasn't meant to be. We didn't play well enough to win and we have to learn to play a certain way."
The victory ended a two-game losing streak for the Flyers (24-19-4), who were coming off weekend losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers, and moved them into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
"Our team doesn't quit," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I know over the weekend with Tampa and the Rangers we had good third periods. They tried, it didn't happen, but the effort is always there. As long as the effort is there and the competitiveness is there, they'll give it their best to try and come back."
The Sabres (13-27-5), who lost in regulation at home for the in nine games, took at 2-1 lead at 6:27 of the third when Matt D'Agostini scored his second goal of the season. D'Agostini dove for a centering pass by Steve Ott and poked the puck past Flyers goaltender Steve Mason.
Philadelphia tied it with 6:32 left when Brayden Schenn fired a loose puck past Enroth. Schenn had the puck come to him after it took a funny hop off the glass and slid through the crease. Schenn collected the puck, spun, and hit the half-empty net for his 12th goal of the season.
"Your first instinct is to spin and shoot and when I saw he was down and out, you just try to get it up as much as possible," Schenn said. "Luckily it went in and I'll definitely take that goal."
A goaltender interference penalty to Buffalo's Zenon Konopka put the Flyers on the power play and they took advantage of it with 4:07 left when Scott Hartnell scored his 11th goal of the season. Hartnell skated into the slot, took a feed from Wayne Simmonds and beat Enroth with a high wrist shot.
"He does hard work and gets to the net," Berube said of Hartnell. "It's not much more simple than that. That's what his game is. Both him and [Simmonds] get hard work in the corners and they get to the net and they get goals. They're very good at it."
Konopka's penalty was his second of the game. The Flyers scored on both.
"The so-called fourth line is supposed to be reliable and get you some quality minutes and wear the opposition down," Nolan said. "You don't take foolish penalties when the score's tied 2-2 and give away a goal."
Tyler Ennis tied it with 3:13 remaining when his slap shot from the right circle got through Mason and went over the goal line for his 10th goal of the season.
"It was a tough game from my standpoint to play, not very busy," Mason said. "There was a lot of standing around, so those are the games that when they're over with and you come away with two points, you're happy about that."
Mason made 16 saves; Enroth stopped 29 shots. It was the first time since Dec. 7 the Sabres scored more than one goal in support of Enroth.
"Obviously, 10 out of 10," Enroth said about his frustration level. "The only thing I can do is just do my job and try to save the next puck all the time."
Cody Hodgson put the Sabres ahead at 6:59 of the first period when he deked and beat Mason after he received a pass in front of the net from Ott. It was Hodgson's ninth goal of the season and first since coming off injured reserve with an upper-body injury on Sunday.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux had a chance to tie the game but was robbed by Enroth at 12:03. Giroux fired a backhander at what appeared to be an open net, but Enroth dove across the crease and stopped the puck with his blocker hand.
"I thought I could make it," Enroth said. "I just never gave up on the play. I was a little bit lucky there. Actually, it hit on the ice and it didn't go upstairs."
But the Flyers tied the game when forward Jakub Voracek scored on the power play at 1:40 of the second period. With Konopka in the box for holding, Voracek took a pass from Simmonds and beat Enroth for his 13th goal of the season. Voracek was all alone in the right circle and had time to place his shot as Enroth tried to get back in position.
|Cody Hodgson (9) ASST: Steve Ott (8), Matt D'Agostini (4)|
1 - 0 BUF
|PPG - Jakub Voracek (13) ASST: Wayne Simmonds (16), Scott Hartnell (14)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Matt D'Agostini (2) ASST: Steve Ott (9), Cody Hodgson (13)|
2 - 1 BUF
|Brayden Schenn (12) ASST: Scott Hartnell (15), Andrej Meszaros (9)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Scott Hartnell (11) ASST: Wayne Simmonds (17), Claude Giroux (29)|
3 - 2 PHI
|Tyler Ennis (10) ASST: Matt Moulson (14), Christian Ehrhoff (15)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Vincent Lecavalier (10) ASST: Matt Read (10), Sean Couturier (13)|
4 - 3 PHI
|Power Play %||23.4%||13.4%|
|% on Road||18.6%||12.2%|
|% at Home||28.0%||14.5%|
|Mark Pysyk Tripping against Claude Giroux|
|Andrej Meszaros Hooking against Ville Leino|
|Alexander Sulzer Cross checking against Claude Giroux|
|Zenon Konopka Holding against Brayden Schenn|
|Jay Rosehill Interference against Cody Hodgson|
|Nicklas Grossmann Interference against Zemgus Girgensons|
|Brayden McNabb Roughing against Wayne Simmonds|
|Adam Hall Hooking against Brayden McNabb|
|Brian Flynn Hooking against Nicklas Grossmann|
|Zenon Konopka Interference on goalkeeper against Steve Mason|