PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers were badly in need of a pick me up. They got it in the form of the Buffalo Sabres.
With concerns that the Flyers were leaking oil after such a great run of hockey over a lengthy period of time, the ideal elixir proved to be the team with the league’s worst record with an injury list so long it could serve as a men’s slow-pitch softball lineup. With the Sabres more representing the Rochester Americans of the AHL – their minor league affiliate – the Flyers were able to stem the tide and win rather comfortably 5-2, lowering their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to three points. Quite simply, two more wins or one more win and one more loss by New Jersey and the Flyers will be back in the postseason. Brayden Schenn scored a pair of goal to become the sixth Flyer to reach 20 this season. Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo and Vinny Lecavalier also scored for the Flyers who picked up win No. 40 this season. Steve Mason made 17 saves as he was often untested by the Sabres. “I think we just played the first two periods really well,” Read said. “We were playing great defense, not giving up much in the defensive zone, which led to a lot of offense for us, had a lot of shots tonight and a couple of breaks, couple of bounces and things kind of going our way. “It’s good to get our confidence up a little bit, but we’ve still got a couple games here to find our full potential.” Mark Streit had an excellent game for the Flyers with three assists as well as strong defensive play. His rocket of a slap shot went off the post right to Read for the first goal of the game and he also fired a bomb on net that Schenn tipped past Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen for his first goal of the game. Rinaldo had a bit of a back-and-forth game for the Flyers. He scored just his second goal of the season off a nice feed from Read and drew another penalty, something he has become proficient at doing. “He played well,” coach Craig Berube said. “I thought he played well in Boston too. He did a lot of good things out there moving his feet, scored a goal. He takes the body, hits, he disrupts people. He’s a physical player.” But he was also whistled for four penalties – two which were questionable, and two which weren’t. Unfortunately, one of the ones that wasn’t was a head shot to Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel which earned him a match penalty, and gave the Sabres a five-minute power play on which they scored their first goal. It’s likely that hit will result in a phone call with the NHL department of player safety and could end up costing Rinaldo some time. “He’s got to be smarter there,” Berube said. Schenn was on his game, playing with Michael Raffl at center and Wayne Simmonds on a new second line created by coach Craig Berube. Simmonds sprung Schenn on a breakout play down the right wing and Schenn sniped a beauty of a shot over Lieuwen’s glove for the fifth Flyers goal. “It’s nice to get that first one, especially when I’ve felt like I’ve been getting a lot of chances lately - whether they’re hitting the post or just not scoring on my opportunities,” Schenn said. So it was nice to get the one for sure. “It’s nice to score and help the team out as much as you can and contribute, but at the same time, at the end of the day, the wins are the most important. It’s nice to score two goals and get the win.” Lecavalier’s tally was pretty similar to Schenn’s second goal as he took a touch pass from Jake Voracek and beat Lieuwen with a filthy wrister. The Flyers embark on their final road trip of the season tomorrow and will be in Florida Tuesday where they can clinch a playoff berth against the Panthers. “Every game’s important,” Read said. “You’ve got to worry who you’re playing, but you’ve got to worry about yourself mostly. It’s about playing the full 60 minutes, finding a way to win hockey games and get back to that mentality of outworking the other team.” To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers