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O'Reilly's three points help Sabres defeat Flyers

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres have won two of their past three games, and a lot of that has to do with the play of Ryan O'Reilly.

O'Reilly had a goal and two assists to help the Sabres to a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at First Niagara Center on Friday.

O'Reilly made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 4:20 into the second period. Eight seconds after an interference penalty against Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier, O'Reilly beat Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth with a slap shot from the left faceoff circle off a pass from captain Brian Gionta. It was his fourth goal.

"[Zemgus] Girgensons had a great screen in front," O'Reilly said. "As a lefty, it's one of the high-percentage shots. It's the shortest distance from my stick, so it's most likely going to get through."

Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made 27 saves to earn his first NHL win in his second career start.

"It's the first game I won here in the [NHL]," Ullmark said. "Pure happiness."

O'Reilly assisted on Jack Eichel's fourth goal with 36 seconds left in the first period and Nicolas Deslauriers' third goal 3:12 into the third period.

Eichel received a pass from O'Reilly, skated into the slot and took a wrist shot that beat Neuvirth to his blocker side for a 1-0 Buffalo lead.

"With the puck on his stick, there's a little bit different electricity in the air," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said of Eichel. "Not just in this building. It was almost a crescendo as he made the move to the middle of the ice."

Eichel, the No. 2 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, has scored the first four goals of his NHL career at home.

"He dangled me there too. It was a great play," O'Reilly said. "It just opened up, and that's why he's so good. You see the maturity on a young kid like that, and that was a big goal to get us going."

Deslauriers made it 3-0 when he tipped a pass from O'Reilly over Neuvirth's shoulder on a 2-on-1 against Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn.

"He's a [heck] of a player," Deslauriers said. "Just that pass, I didn't even need to do much. Two goals in a row, I didn't need to do much."

O'Reilly has three goals and seven assists in the past five games. His 13 points in 11 games are fifth in the League.

"I maybe rode him a little hard tonight with the way I played him 26-plus minutes, but he was the best player on the ice in pretty much every situation tonight," Bylsma said. "He didn't necessarily start the way he wanted to. Before tonight's game, he was at a point a game. Don't know if I'm surprised, it's kind of as advertised, but I'm more surprised at the other areas and facets of his game. We leaned on him for 35 faceoffs, against [Claude] Giroux. We needed him on the penalty kill late."

The Sabres (4-7-0) will look to make it two in a row and three out of four when they visit the New York Islanders on Sunday.

"We're coming together. We know what we need to do," Deslauriers said. "It's nice to play a solid 40 minutes. … Just a full game, I think it was one of our best games this year."

The Flyers (4-4-2) have lost three in a row (0-2-1), earning a point against the Sabres in a 4-3 overtime loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. They begin a four-game Canadian road trip at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

Buffalo had a total of 76 shots on goal over the two games against Philadelphia this week (40 on Tuesday, 36 on Friday). It's the most shots the Sabres have had against the Flyers in consecutive games since they had 82 on Nov. 21, 2008 (40, 3-0 loss), and Feb. 19, 2009 (42, 6-3 loss).

"We just got outplayed. We have to play better," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "Starting from the first line to the fourth line, let's be honest, we didn't deserve to win the game. We made too many turnovers, we lost too many 1-on-1 battles. It wasn't good enough. We've got to make sure that we get on the West Coast road trip and play much better. ... If we play like we did today, we are going to get beat badly."

Mark Streit ended Ullmark's shutout bid when he scored to make it 3-1 with 3:24 left in the third period. Streit received a backhand pass from behind the net by R.J. Umberger and tapped the puck past Ullmark for his third goal.

"It was a rough game," Streit said. "We didn't play our game. We wanted to respond from last night, but obviously didn't do it."

The Flyers lost 4-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

"We haven't been able to get in any kind of a rhythm in these last couple of games," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "We had a pretty good first period until we got to the 4-on-4 and that seemed to swing the momentum, and they got a goal right after that."

Neuvirth made 33 saves in his first game against Buffalo since he was traded by the Sabres to the Islanders at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline.

"For sure, they're different," Neuvirth said of the Sabres. "They are playing much better than last year, but last year is last year. It doesn't matter."

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