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Schenn's two goals help Flyers beat Sabres

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Brayden Schenn was a center through his junior career, and he played the position well enough to be the fifth player picked at the 2009 NHL Draft.

Schenn also has been primarily at center during his four-season professional career. This season, however, he's flipped between center and left wing. The adjustment hasn't always been easy, but he certainly had an enjoyable experience on the wing Sunday.

Schenn scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season to help the Philadelphia Flyers snap a four-game skid (0-2-2) with a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

"It's one game, so we'll see what happens the next game. ...Wherever I'm put I try to make the most of where I'm at," Schenn said.

Matt Read and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist, Mark Streit had three assists, and Steve Mason stopped 17 shots. Zac Rinaldo scored the Flyers' other goal.

Philadelphia is two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for third place in the Metropolitan Division and two points behind the second-place New York Rangers. The Flyers and Blue Jackets each have played 78 games; the Rangers have played 79.

Cody Hodgson had a goal and an assist, Mike Weber had a goal, and Nathan Lieuwen made 32 saves as Buffalo lost its third straight game.

The Sabres lost defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a concussion when Rinaldo hit him in the head at 4:29 of the third period. Rinaldo was assessed a match penalty, which means the NHL Department of Player Safety will automatically review the hit for supplemental discipline.

Christian Ehrhoff also left the game with 1:10 to go when he was hit in the ear by a Scott Hartnell dump-in. Sabres coach Ted Nolan didn't know Ehrhoff's status but said, "It looked pretty serious."

Ehrhoff ended up with a lacerated ear and needed 40 stitches to close the cut.

Nolan also said Lieuwen was unavailable to the media after the game because he was not feeling well following a collision with Flyers forward Jay Rosehill with 2:23 remaining.

The Sabres already have used 44 players this season, setting a team record.

"We have some kids in a position that there's no big brother for them right now," Nolan said. "They have to sink or swim. And certain games like this are going to catch up to us."

Leading 1-0 after one period, the Flyers started rolling when Rinaldo scored off a give-and-go with Read at 7:40 of the second. Schenn made it 3-0 when he scored on the power play later in the period.

Schenn outmuscled Ruhwedel for a puck behind the Buffalo net. He got it to Lecavalier in the right circle, and after Lecavalier moved it to Streit at the point, Schenn drove to the net, leaped and tipped Streit's shot behind Lieuwen.

It's the kind of play that makes Flyers coach Craig Berube confident Schenn can do well in the transition to the wing.

"Wingers, they've got to be good along the walls, and I like his size along the wall," Berube said. "You've got to make plays when the puck is on the wall, and that's important."

Schenn said his adjustment remains a work in progress, especially in the defensive zone.

"[On the wing] you're not down low and doing the mucking and grinding as much as the centerman would, but at the same time you still want to play good defense, and in the neutral zone ... you're not isolated to the one side but you're stuck on the left wing a little more."

Schenn's goal also snapped Philadelphia's 0-for-12 drought at home on the power play. In 13 home games since the Olympic break, the Flyers are 8-for-54 (14.8 percent) with the man advantage; they're 5-for-16 (31.2 percent) in six road games.

"We've been struggling on the power play a little bit," Streit said. "I thought it was better [Sunday]. We had good chances. To get a goal I think it kind of takes a little of the pressure off the power play."

Lecavalier's goal with 2:02 remaining in the second made it 4-0. After scoring a total of five goals in their previous four games, including back-to-back shutout losses against the St. Louis Blues and Blue Jackets, the offensive production provided a shot of confidence to a team in need of some as it tries to finish its push for a playoff spot.

"I think it really helps," Berube said. "Even though we played well against Boston and St. Louis, we lost the games in the shootout, so it feels like a loss. No goals scored in the St. Louis game, and then we lost the next two. So I think it was important ... for the confidence level to get guys' spirits back up."

The Sabres were left disappointed again as they head to the finish of the season. They have four games remaining, starting Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

"We just got out-battled, out-competed," Hodgson said. "I think when you watch the game you can see that. As a team and individuals, we can all improve."

They had a chance to pull back into the game after Rinaldo's penalty put them on a five-minute power play. They had one shot but it turned into Hodgson's 19th goal when he tipped Ehrhoff's point shot past Mason at 7:26 of the third.

Schenn responded with his 20th goal at 15:10. Wayne Simmonds backhanded a loose puck in the Philadelphia zone to center ice, and Schenn picked it up at top speed. He got to the right circle and wired a shot that beat Lieuwen to the short side over his glove.

The goals were Schenn's first in seven games and gave him his first 20-goal NHL season. Six Flyers have 20 goals.

"It's nice to score, help the team out as much as you can and contribute," he said. "At the same time the wins are the most important. It's nice to score two goals in a win."

Weber closed the scoring with his first goal in 84 games. Hodgson retrieved the puck behind the Philadelphia net and sent it in front to Weber, who pinched down the slot and tapped it past Mason at 17:48.


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