(Philadelphia, PA, April 8) – Mike Knuble's third period goal tied the game and Mike Richard's tally later in the frame gave Philadelphia a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres in the final game of the season.
Trailing 3-2 after the second period, Simon Gagne won an offensive zone faceoff to Knuble who was able to find daylight through goaltender Ty Conklin at 3:42. Later, with the Flyers on a power play, Richards charged the crease and knocked in a loose puck for what turned out to be the game-winner at 8:45.
After the game, Flyers Head Coach John Stevens was happy about the win and already anxious to get the 2007-08 season underway.
"I am certainly happy with how we played today but you never stop looking ahead as a coach," said Stevens. "I just keep looking ahead and trying to plan for the next day and what lies ahead. I am kind of anxious and excited to get this thing turned around.
"I think the picture for next year and the plan and the identity of this hockey team has become very clear for us."
Martin Biron, playing against his former club for the first time, made 30 saves to record the victory.
"We lost a lot of one-goal games, and a lot of games we were in until the end against good teams," said Biron. "We could never get that extra goal, that extra push to get us over, but we did it today. It was great to do, and to do it against a former team is all the sweeter."
Buffalo jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Thomas Vanek's 43rd goal at 10:21, but the Flyers tied it on Gagne's breakaway after a great feed from Knuble from his own blueline at 11:15. Knuble finished with three points on the afternoon.
Stefan Ruzicka jammed home his third goal of the season early in the second period to give the Flyers the lead, but goals by Jason Pominville at 15:32 and Derek Roy with 11 seconds left in the frame gave the Sabres back the lead. Pominville's goal was inadvertently knocked into the net by defenseman Joni Pitkanen off of Pominville after Biron made a chest save on Chris Drury's slap shot.
The win was just the second all season by the Flyers when trailing after two periods.
"I was extremely quiet in [the locker room] after the second period," said Biron. "Coach Stevens walked in a kind of put everything in perspective. This was our last 20 minutes of the year, a tough year. We wanted to go out there and end it on a good note."
"We obviously have not done it very much this year but I think it was a real credit to our team," said Stevens.
The Sabres, who had already clinched the Eastern Conference entering the game, will open the playoffs against either the New York Islanders or Toronto Maple Leafs.
"They don't want to get hurt before the playoffs and all that, but still at the end we won the game and it is good for us mentally that we beat that team," said Gagne.
Philadelphia was 1-for-4 on the power play and killed off both Buffalo advantages.
FLYERS NOTES Sami Kapanen missed the game with a bruised right foot sustained on Saturday. Denis Gauthier (sprained wrist) and Todd Fedoruk (sprained knee) were among the other Flyers who finished the season on the injured list… The victory was the first of the season against Buffalo for the Flyers, as they had lost the first three games. … Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen got the day off.