Philadelphia, PA – The Buffalo Sabres scored the only two goals of the third period, including one with less than five seconds in regulation, to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday afternoon, 6-5.
The game appeared to be headed to overtime, but a turnover in the Flyers' zone led to the game-winning goal by Mike Grier. Derek Roy centered the puck to Grier for a redirection to end Philadelphia's modest two-game winning streak.
"It was a tough way to lose a hockey game, giving up the goal in the last five seconds when you are not in any real danger," said Ken Hitchcock.
"They capitalized on their chances," added Mike Richards. "They are a very opportunistic team. We have them a lot of room and we gave their skilled players a lot of scoring chances."
Philadelphia led 5-4 after two periods, but the Sabres out shot the Flyers 14-1 over the last 20 minutes of play. Chris Drury tied the game on the power play, when he controlled the puck at the side of the net and found daylight over the shoulder of Antero Niittymaki at 5:06.
"We let them back in the game," said Peter Forsberg. "They totally outplayed us in the third period. We weren't skating, we weren't hitting. We weren't doing anything. We are a little scared when we have the lead. We are hesitant and instead of attacking when we have the lead and making it 6-4, we sat back."
Philadelphia begins a four-game road trip Sunday night in Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m., CSN). The Flyers will go to Fort Lauderdale immediately following the Pittsburgh game and will play Florida, Tampa Bay and Atlanta before retuning home on March 21 against New Jersey.
A wild second period in which the teams combined for seven goals ended with Philadelphia holding a one-goal lead.
The Sabres got the first two to tie the score. Just 15 seconds into the period, J.P. Dumont was left wide open for an easy tap-in goal. Then, at 4:42, Jochen Hecht bounced the puck off of a prone Niittymaki to make it a 2-2 game.
Philadelphia's second shorthanded goal of the game gave the Flyers their lead back, although brief, when Brian Savage ripped a slap shot inside the far post from along the boards at 7:51.
A power play goal by Daniel Briere
at 9:06 and a rebound score by Teppo Numminen at 12:13 put Buffalo in front for the first time in the contest, but the Flyers responded to take the lead back once again.
Simon Gagne's 38th goal from the faceoff circle at 15:47 made it 4-4, before a pretty passing play ended with a redirection by Richards from the slot with 30 seconds left in the period.
"We don't want to play that type of hockey," said Gagne of the high score. "We can't play a different style against [Buffalo]."
Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was replaced by Martin Biron to begin the third period. Biron recorded the win despite needing to make just one save.
The Flyers took an early lead on a goal by Mike Knuble at 3:50 of the first period. R.J. Umberger got to a loose puck in the Buffalo zone and fed Knuble in the faceoff circle for a wrist shot that beat Miller.
Knuble's 27 goals is second on the team to only Simon Gagne's 38.
A shorthanded goal later in the period by Sami Kapanen made it 2-0. Buffalo's Thomas Vanek was unable to control a pass at the blue line, and Kapanen raced in on a two-on-one with Petr Nedved but took it himself at 10:32.
The Flyers have 14 shorthanded goals on the season while allowing just four. They scored two shorthanded goals in a game for the third time this season.FLYERS NOTES
Denis Gauthier and Niko Dimitrakos made their Flyers debuts. … Were the NHL playoffs to start today, the Flyers would face the Sabres with Buffalo owning home-ice advantage. … Derian Hatcher missed the game due to a bruised right knee, joining Michal Handzus, Chris Therien and Kim Johnsson on the Flyers' injured list. … Of the 18 games left on the schedule for the Flyers, 11 are on the road. … The last time the Flyers and their opponent combined for seven goals in a period was at Detroit on January 12. … The Flyers and Sabres meet for the final time this season on April 7 in Buffalo.