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Sabres defeat Flyers in OT for first road win

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Dan Bylsma is in his first season as Buffalo Sabres coach but already has a pretty good feel for his team.

That's why when he saw center Zemgus Girgensons break in alone on Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason midway through overtime at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, he knew he could start walking to the locker room.

Girgensons' goal at 2:29 of overtime gave the Sabres a 4-3 victory.

"We were talking about his goals last year and how many he had on the breakaway, which was six of his [15] goals last year," Bylsma said. "So when he got the puck I started walking off the bench [thinking] he's going to find it, and he did."

Tyler Ennis, Jamie McGinn and Jake McCabe also scored for the Sabres (3-6-0), and Johan Larsson had two assists. Goaltender Chad Johnson made 30 saves.

It was Buffalo's first win in three games and its first road win of the season.

Brayden Schenn scored two goals for the Flyers. Chris VandeVelde also scored, and defenseman Luke Schenn had two assists. Mason made 36 saves.

The Flyers (4-2-2) lost for the first time in three games.

Philadelphia lost fourth-line center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare with 5:52 left in the first period. He needed help leaving the ice and was unable to put weight on his right leg. The Flyers said he sustained a lower-body injury.

The Flyers, who tied the game on Schenn's second goal with 53.2 seconds left in the third period, had a prime chance to win it at 1:55 of overtime. Sam Gagner had a breakaway that Johnson stopped, and the rebound rolled to the side of the net. Scott Laughton had an open look, but Johnson dropped his stick, dove across the crease and used the palm of his blocker hand to knock the puck away.

Moments later, Brayden Schenn overskated a puck at the offensive blue line, and Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo sent it the other way to Girgensons, who broke in alone and beat Mason between his pads for his first goal of the season.

"I was coming in pretty fast," Girgensons said. "I tried to get away from the other guys as soon as I could. So I just got my speed and put it five-hole."

The Flyers seemed to have momentum heading into overtime after Schenn got into the slot and redirected a shot by Claude Giroux over Johnson's right shoulder for the tying goal in the final minute of the third.

But the Sabres, the youngest team in the League, never got down on itself.

"It's big," Girgensons said. "We came back a couple times. Was just wishing it hadn't gone to overtime. But it just shows the character that we can do it and we have the ability to win."

Bylsma said he was more impressed by the resiliency the Sabres showed earlier in the third. Schenn's first goal tied the game 2-2 at 8:14, but McCabe answered with his second goal of the season 1:24 later, a slap shot through a Jack Eichel screen, to put Buffalo back in front.

"I look back to the [Flyers'] second goal as more of a sign of that," he said. "We give up that goal, we'd been fighting it 2-1 for most of the game, and we're looking to close it out, they get the big goal to tie it. Almost immediately, we answer back.

"We're learning how to win as a group. We're developing our team and how we want to play. I thought for the large portion of the game, we stuck with it, we kept at it. And that's a young group of guys going through that process together, and good on them."

The Sabres also got offense from different parts Tuesday, something they'll need without forward Evander Kane in the lineup. On Monday, the Sabres said Kane would be out 4-6 weeks because of an injury to the medial collateral ligament his left knee sustained Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

Ennis' goal was his third of the season, but McGinn, McCabe and Girgensons had combined for one goal, by McCabe, entering the game.

"That's what a team is all about," McGinn said. "Can't rely on one guy. If one guy goes down, everyone else picks up the pieces. We have a lot of skill on this team, a lot of heart, and we have the pieces to be able to continue to move forward. We wish [Kane] a speedy recovery, but we need to win hockey games and continue working hard, and it's definitely in this room."

Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol wasn't happy with the loss but could take solace that the Flyers came away with a point in the standings.

"We didn't have our best night and we couldn't find anything on a consistent basis," he said. "Obviously, there are things that we didn't do well enough tonight. At the same time, we stuck with it in one way shape or form enough to get it to overtime."

The Sabres took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Ennis and McGinn. They nearly pushed it to 3-0 with 7:13 left in the first when the rebound of a McGinn shot from the left side bounced off Marcus Foligno and into the net. But the goal was waved off after referees ruled Foligno used a distinct kicking motion to put the puck in the net.

The Flyers got to within 2-1 at 14:40 of the first on VandeVelde's first goal of the season. His shot off the rush from the left circle hit off the bottom of Johnson's glove and went into the net.


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