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Flyers hand Sabres 10th straight regulation loss

by Joe Yerdon /

BUFFALO -- The Philadelphia Flyers scored for the first time in two games and got back into the win column on Saturday.

Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl scored third-period goals to help give the Flyers a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.

R.J. Umberger tipped a slap shot from Matt Read past Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth for his eighth goal of the season 3:51 into the second period. It was the Flyers' (18-21-7) first goal in 168:50 since a 7-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday; they had been shut out the past two games.

"Two games without a goal is a long time," Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said. "It was only a matter of time before we scored."

The shutout streak was the fourth longest in Flyers history.

"Guys are a little frustrated," captain Claude Giroux said. "We haven't been playing the right kind of hockey that we wanted to be playing. I think [in the] second and third period we kind of got our stuff together and played better."

The loss was the Buffalo's (14-29-3) 10th consecutive in regulation, a Sabres record.

"The effort was there and obviously some of the things that happened when you have a couple young defensemen, that's going to happen occasionally," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "But at least the effort was way better."

VandeVelde scored a breakaway goal that broke a 2-2 tie when he got a breakout pass from Vincent Lecavalier. VandeVelde deked and the puck slipped off his stick past Neuvirth for his fifth goal of the season 5:54 into the third period.

"It was just a good play by Vinny," VandeVelde said. "I managed to knock it out of the air and I don't even know how the goal went in to be real honest, but it went in and that's all that matters."

Michael Raffl made it 4-2 at 8:39 when he picked up a loose puck off a deflected shot by Michael Del Zotto and put a wrist shot past Neuvirth for his 12th goal of the season.

"You're never happy when you don't score goals, especially when you don't win," Del Zotto said. "Nothing we can do about it. Tonight was a big win now if we keep moving forward and hopefully string a few wins together."

Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons scored his second goal of the game and 13th of the season on a power play with 1:09 left in the third to make it 4-3.

"I think we gave a way better effort," Girgensons said. "We worked way harder. We wanted this one, it's just we made mistakes that shouldn't have been made."

Girgensons gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead with 1:09 left in the first period when he received a pass from Chris Stewart and took a slap shot that Flyers goalie Rob Zepp didn't react to while the puck went by him.

"It surprised me. I'll take credit for that," Zepp said. "I've got to fight through traffic. It came through traffic, but I've got to do a better job finding it. He ended up one-timing it off the post. [It was a] nice play, but I want to fight through traffic a little better there."

Umberger's power-play goal made it 1-1 3:51 into the second period.

"There was a lot of talk, individuals in the locker room about being better and not letting time tick away," Umberger said. "We still had 40 minutes to turn it around. We knew if we worked, our skill would take over in this game."

The Flyers took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal 7:49 into the second. Defenseman Mark Streit received a pass from Giroux and scored his sixth goal of the season with a slap shot from high in the slot that beat Neuvirth.

"I think we just wanted to get rolling here and we did a good job of playing as a team tonight, chemistry and we communicated well on the ice," Giroux said. "When we keep it simple and play as a team, I think we give ourselves a good chance."

Tyler Ennis made it 2-2 with 54.6 seconds left in the second period. Ennis took a pass from Matt Moulson after a shot from defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen went off the post. Zepp scrambled to gather the puck after Ristolainen's shot hit the post, but Moulson got to it first and passed to Ennis for his 10th goal of the season.

"It was a better effort," Ennis said. "I think we needed that effort after last game against Minnesota. We still got to clean up some stuff. I liked the effort, but a couple breakdowns cost us."

The Sabres lost 7-0 to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Sabres forwards Cody Hodgson (5:57), Philip Varone (6:09), and Drew Stafford (9:05) had the fewest minutes played in the game. Hodgson and Varone each played one shift in the first period.

"The other guys weren't going very good," Nolan said. "We have to send a message to the guys, 'If you don't want to work, you won't play.'"

Zepp made 24 saves and is 3-1-0 this season; Neuvirth had 28 saves and fell to 3-13-1.

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