PHILADELPHIA – For the first time in nearly four years, the Buffalo Sabres won a game in Philadelphia.
Brian Flynn’s shootout winner lifted the Sabres over the Flyers 3-2 at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. Buffalo’s last win in the City of Brotherly Love came on March 5, 2011.
Nicolas Deslauriers and captain Brian Gionta tallied in regulation for Buffalo and Michal Neuvirth stopped 36 shots.
Gionta reached the 500-point plateau with his go-ahead goal in the second period. With assists on the goal, Torrey Mitchell hit the 100-career-point mark and Matt Moulson now sits on 299 career points.
“It’s nice to get it behind you, but it’s more about getting trying to get things on the right track here,” Gionta said. “Pushing the right way, making sure we’re going the right way. Those things are nice, but at the end of the day, wins are way better.”
Eight of Buffalo’s last 10 games have now been decided by one goal. They’re now 3-7-1 in those games with points in back-to-back games since Dec. 13-15, during the team’s run of 10 wins in 13 games. With the win and an overtime point in New Jersey on Tuesday, the Sabres collected three of four points on their two-game road trip.
“For the last number of games, I thought our effort’s been there,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “All one-goal games and to come out on the better side of it, it’s a good feeling for sure.”
Flynn was Buffalo’s fourth shooter, and after Sean Couturier was stopped by Neuvirth, he had a chance to win it. Emery had already made two great saves to deny Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis and Flynn used what he saw from those attempts to help him in his approach.
Flynn came in fast, deked and put a backhand in to seal the victory.
“The goalie seemed like he was pretty aggressive on some of our other shooters so I thought maybe one quick fake and fortunately, it worked,” Flynn said.
He’s now 2-for-2 in the shootout this season and both of them have been game-deciders. His other shootout goal was in Montreal on Nov. 29.
Buffalo is now 7-2 in the shootout this season.
For Neuvirth, it was his first win since Nov. 15, a 6-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s now stopped 98 of 103 shots (.951 save percentage) over his past three games.
“For a young goaltender trying to establish himself as a No. 1, the difference-makers – and that’s what you’ve got to be,” Nolan said. “And he was the difference-maker tonight. He was a big reason why we got the two points and it was good for him.”
GETTING THE BOUNCES
Deslauriers opened the scoring at 4:41, putting a puck in that somehow found its way to him. Rasmus Ristolainen took a point shot that ended up bouncing off Flynn’s pants. Flynn took a whack at it and it ended up on Deslauriers’ stick. In front of the net, he took a swipe at it and it hit the back of the net.
“It’s not the prettiest one, but we weren’t there to get those ones a couple games ago,” Deslauriers said.
Ryan White would tie the game at the 10:23 mark of the first, knocking home a rebound that caromed straight off the end boards. However, Buffalo would take the lead again early in the second.
Gionta was the beneficiary of another bounce in front of the net. When Mitchell’s shot redirected off goaltender Ray Emery’s pads, Gionta was right there to put it home just 38 seconds into the period.
Jakub Voracek scored on the power play 8:45 into the second to make things even once again.
Buffalo and Philadelphia then traded chances for the rest of the game, including a wide-open overtime period in which the teams exchanged rushes up and down the ice for 3:10 without a stoppage.
“It was a great effort all the way around and we need to continue to build off of that,” Gionta said. “By no means is it perfect, but the effort’s there right from start to finish. That’s the key to these tight games, is keeping yourself in it and giving yourself a chance.”
BACK TO BACK
The Sabres will play the second half of a back-to-back series Friday when they host the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the Tops Game Night pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
Buffalo is not scheduled to take the ice for a morning skate, so stick with Sabres.com for lineup news from Nolan later in the afternoon.