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Connolly the key as Sabres double up Flyers

by John McGourty /
PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Connolly recorded two goals and two assists and Ryan Miller made 31 saves Friday afternoon as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Flyers, 4-2, for the second time this month. The victory ended a four-game winless streak for Buffalo and gave Philadelphia its fourth loss in the past five games.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery dropped his fifth decision in his past six games. Down two goals, the Flyers pulled Emery with more than three minutes remaining and took a timeout with 1:14 left, but couldn’t push another puck past Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

"It was a hard-fought game. One puck went in off our stick and another one goes up in the air and climbs down the back of the goalie," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It's one of those things. We're not getting any breaks right now so we have to work harder to get those breaks. I can't fault the effort tonight. I think the guys worked hard.

"We were trying to tie the game in the third period but it was difficult to score and they disallowed a goal. That was a key play early in the power play, gives your power play confidence. It just seemed like if anything could go wrong tonight, it did."

Both teams lost a couple of players to injury. Buffalo's Paul Gaustad appeared to catch a rut and left with a leg injury in the second period. Sabres defenseman Craig Rivet jammed his left leg into the end boards with three minutes remaining and did not return.

"It looks like both players will miss some time," Ruff said of Gaustad and Rivet. "Both players have leg injuries."

Philadelphia's Jared Ross suffered an upper-body injury in the first period and didn’t return, while Ian Laperriere was hit in the face by a slap shot late in the first. Laperriere returned to play in the third.

"'Roscoe' went out early, he's a center-iceman and then 'Lappy' goes out, he's a penalty killer and (Daniel) Carcillo was in the box," Stevens said. "We had kept our top two lines intact early in the game but we were down to three lines left.

"It was a tight game. I haven't seen the final chances yet but I'd bet they're pretty close, maybe even in our favor. Those are the games in which you have to find ways to win."

The Flyers outshot the Sabres, 33-25.

"We worked hard and if you deserve to win a game, if you work hard, you will win it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We stumbled at the end of the (first) period but I thought that we battled for the next 40 minutes, enough to win the game.

"We're desperate and we've got to show that we're a desperate club. We've lost a number of games in a row. You've got to show that level of desperation if you want to win a game. We've talked about the desperation and tonight that desperation showed up."

Rivet was a focal point of the game as he scrapped twice in the second period with Carcillo. Both players received two five-minute fighting majors but Carcillo was given a 10-minute misconduct after the second fight.

Arron Asham was chasing Rivet for a puck behind the Buffalo net when Rivet slipped and fell into the boards with less than four minutes to play. It didn't appear as if Asham touched Rivet.

"They always like to get in a few scraps and play a little tougher than their means," Miller said. "We have guys who can play just as tough and are willing to stand in there. Craig did a great job in back-to-back fights.

"As we started hitting more, getting into more scraps and hanging tight, we made it more about us and they were more interested in getting mixed up. I think it helped us come together."

Connolly actually factored into five goals because he deflected Braydon's Coburn shot into his own net at the end of the first period, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead. He more than made up for his mistake later.

The Sabres tied the score, 2-2, at 6:09 of the second period when Gaustad redirected a pass from Connolly past Coburn and Emery. Connolly and Chris Butler exchanged a couple of passes at the blue line before Connolly dropped down the left side and fired a hard pass that Gaustad, facing away from Emery with Coburn draped over him, was able to redirect to the right side of the net.

Connolly got the go-ahead goal, his fifth of the season, at 5:27 of the third when he took a pass from Tyler Myers, executed a nice give-and-go with Clarke MacArthur and beat Emery with a hard shot from just above the left faceoff circle.

Connolly, Buffalo's leading scorer with six goals and 21 points, got his second of the game at 10:52 following some nice work by Drew Stafford in the right corner against Mike Richards. Stafford went behind the net and centered a pass to Connolly at Emery's right elbow. Connolly passed through his own legs toward the front of the net but it hit Kimmo Timonen, popped in the air and deflected into the net off Emery's mask.

"The team played really well. We stayed in the game, fought hard and it was a good road victory for us," Connolly said. "(Defenseman Henrik) Tallinder and Myers were paired up with our line most of the night and they did a great job of moving the puck up and getting up in the play and making plays.

"Myers created that rush goal, made a great breakout pass to me in the middle and I was able to get it up to Clarke," Connolly said. "He was driving hard and he opened up the ice for me to get a shot there."

The Sabres gave up two goals in the final 34 seconds of the first period, as a 1-0 lead turned into a 2-1 deficit.

Carter made a flip pass from center ice, as two Sabres converged on him, that James van Riemsdyk collected and carried into the Buffalo zone. As the defense converged on him, he found Mike Richards cutting down the left side. Richards cut to the net and fired a backhand off Miller's left pad and up into the net.

Then, with only 3.6 seconds left, Mika Pyorala's shot from the right boards rebounded off Miller to the left boards. Asham passed back to Coburn at the point and his shot was deflected by Connolly past Miller.

The first period was roughly played. Buffalo's Jason Pominville was whistled for tripping at 2:05 and the Flyers just missed taking the early lead when Timonen's shot hit the left post five seconds after the penalty expired.

Buffalo didn't get a shot until 6:40 when Emery blocked a Steve Montador shot from the blue line. Emery didn't look good on Buffalo's second shot as Stafford carried Connolly's pass into the zone on his backhand, covered by Pyorala, cut to the net and fired a centering pass past Emery that Matt Carle deflected into his own net.

Philadelphia lost Ross at 9:28 when Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta drilled him from behind into the boards behind Emery and fell on him. Kaleta got a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct and Riley Cote of the Flyers received two minutes for roughing Kaleta.

Although the Flyers are one of the best NHL teams in 4-on-4 play and have the League’s best power play, the Sabres were able to kill the penalty. Emery had a good save on Jochen Hecht during the 4-on-4 and Miller made a strong save on Pronger's point shot.

Flyers fans were on their feet when van Riemsdyk pushed in a rebound of Richards' shot at 9:48 but the would-be power-play goal was disallowed because Richards had fallen over Miller into the net, with help from Sabres defenseman Toni Lydman.

The Flyers were without right wing Daniel Briere, a former Sabres player, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension for hitting Colorado's Scott Hannan in the neck during the Flyers' 5-4 loss in Denver on Monday.

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