Already with his three assists under his belt, Claude Giroux capped off his four-point night with the overtime game winner as the Philadelphia Flyers came from behind to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 at First Niagara Center. The loss dropped Buffalo to 1-5-1 in their last seven at home, while the Flyers improved to a league-best 10-3-1 on the road.
The Sabres got off to the quick start they were looking for when they jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on goals by Ville Leino, Zack Kassian and Thomas Vanek. But a goal by Max Talbot with one second left in the period sparked the Philadelphia comeback.
Flyers rookie Matt Read scored 5:17 into the second to close the gap to one goal. Giroux then set up veterans Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr three minutes apart late in the period to give Philadelphia a 4-3 lead heading into the locker room.
Drew Stafford said it was easy to explain how the game turned so quickly.
“We basically gave them all their chances making east-west plays, and they capitalized on it. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “We had the lead; we finally had the start we talked about. Coming out strong, sticking up for teammates with a couple of good scraps. We felt like we had a lot of good momentum, and we gave it to them. It’s not acceptable.”
“It was tough to have it turn that sharp,” said Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. “It took us a little while to get the ship righted after that.”
The Flyers tightened up defensively in the third, forcing Buffalo into a dump-and-chase period where they were only able to generate five shots on goal. But after missing a glorious opportunity to even the score on a feed from Tyler Ennis moments earlier, the snakebitten Stafford tied the game with 95 seconds left when he one-timed a Jason Pominville pass from behind the net to send the game into overtime.
But the poor puck management that has plagued the Sabres over the past few games reared its ugly head again in the extra session. After picking up a loose puck inside the Flyers zone along the left boards, Sabres defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani wheeled and fired a blind pass pack to the point that Giroux picked off and sped down the ice untouched for the game winner.
“I’m out there trying to make plays,” said Gragnani. “Obviously that was a big mistake.”
A frustrated Lindy Ruff lamented his team’s play with the puck once again.
“What killed us was what we did with the puck, our puck management,” explained Ruff. “It cost us probably four goals on the night. Including the last play where we just threw it blind across the ice for a breakaway.”
“It’s disappointing to give up a lead like that. It’s disappointing to lose in overtime,” said Miller. “We’re just going to have to move forward.”
Ironically, the last time Buffalo lost a game when leading by three goals was a 4-3 shootout loss to Philadelphia on February 25, 2008.
NOTES: Nathan Gerbe was injured in the second period when he was hit from behind on the boards by Philadelphia’s Marc-Andre Bourdon, who only received a two-minute boarding minor on the play. Gerbe didn’t return to the game with what was called an upper body injury, but Ruff said after the game that he wasn’t feeling “clear.”
7:14 - Good evening from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY!
7:14 - Warmups are just coming to an end. Starting lineups coming soon.
7:17 - McCormick, Gaustad & Kaleta are scratched for Buffalo
7:17 - Walker, Schenn & Shelley are the Flyers scratches.
7:18 - Miller gets the start for Buffalo; Bryzgalov between the pipes for Philly.
7:26 - Ellis/Tropp/Gerbe
7:28 - BUF starters: Vanek/Hecht/Pominville, Regehr/Sekera, Miller PHIL starters: Hartnell/Giroux/Jagr, Coburn/Timonen, Bryzgalov
7:33 - For those about to blog ... I salute you!
7:35 - Flyers hit the ice, as Pierre McGuire of Versus is doing a standup right in front of their bench with a spotlight on him. Thought he was about to break into song.
7:35 - Here come the Sabres!
7:39 - Anthems are done. Time to play some hockey in downtown Buffalo!
7:40 - Game on!
7:42 - Lindy Ruff put an emphasis on the team's "battle" during practice this week. It will be interesting to see if they get that going early tonight.
7:45 - Very cautious start by both teams. Flyers record their first shot 4:20 into the period.
7:46 - Ryan Miller is already off to a better start than the last time he faced Philly, and allowed 3 goals in the first 7 minutes on Nov. 2
7:48 - Matt Read was headed right at Miller but threw on the brakes with a little help from Brayden McNabb. Someone needs to send that video to Mr. Tootoo
7:48 - Timonen off for hooking - Sabres on the PP
7:50 - Ehrhoff coughs up the puck at the Flyers blueline, then races back to prevent Read's scoring chance on Miller
7:51 - 12:06 left in the 1st. Sabres outshooting Philly 6-2.
7:55 - Hecht nearly gets a scoring chance after pickpocketing Read in front of the Flyers net
7:56 - Sabres are definitely taking the direct route to the net tonight instead of looking off to low percentage passes
7:57 - GOAL!
7:58 - BUF 1-0: Ville Leino finishes off a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play to give Buffalo the lead. It's a PP goal, as Rinaldo had just gone to the box for holding the stick (10:16)
7:59 - Kassian and Adam pick up the assists.
8:00 - That was Leino's 3rd goal of the year - and first in 11 games (Nov 11 vs. OTT)
8:05 - Big Joe Finley just flattened Zac Rinaldo along the boards near the Flyers bench. He took exception to a late hit by Rinaldo on Ennis. Finley earns himself two minutes in the box for his transgression.
8:07 - Miller slides across the crease to calmly stop the one-timer by some new Flyer named Jagr.
8:08 - Roy doesn't get good wood on his shot after a nice cross ice pass from Stafford while the Sabres are still on the PK
8:10 - A nice poke check by Miller stops Jagr on the breakaway after rookie Brayden McNabb had his shot blocked at the Flyer blueline.
8:15 - 2:32 left in the period
8:16 - GOAL!
8:17 - BUF 2-0: Kassian with an absolute top shelf snipe from the slot that Bryzgalov is still looking for. What a laser! (18:55)
8:18 - That's Kassian's 3rd goal in 6 games since being recalled from Rochester. Sekera picks up the lone assist.
8:18 - Meszaros gets called for tripping - Sabres on PP
8:18 - GOAL!
8:20 - 3-0: Vanek unleashes a wrist shot from the faceoff dot to the right of Bryzgalov, and the puck trickles over the line.
8:21 - 3-1: Max Talbot gets Philly on the board with 1.5 seconds left in the period.
8:23 - Corey Tropp pounds Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo like a speed bag with a series of rapid fire left jabs in a fight as the period comes to an end.
8:23 - End of 1: Sabres lead 3-1, but Flyers hold a 16-13 edge in shots.
8:39 - Game on!
8:40 - Sabres were just 10-15 on faceoffs in the 1st, but Matt Ellis was 4-1
8:42 - Miller gets tangled up with McNabb in the crease, knocking his mask off in the process. He's being tended to by Sabres trainer Tim Macre for some minor facial repairs
8:47 - Bourdon drills Gerbe from behind right in front of the penalty box. That brings noted pugilist Matt Ellis into action, and he holds his own with Bourdon
8:48 - Bourdon gets 2 for boarding & 5 for fighting .... Ellis gets 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and 10 minute misconduct
8:51 - 3-2: Flyers close to within one as Timonen's point shot finds its way past Miller (5:17)
8:51 - Giroux with the lone assist on the goal
8:55 - Vanek races in and fires a shot from the left wing that Bryzgalov thought he missed. Pominville nearly gets the rebound.
9:01 - Sabres on the PP -- van Riemsdyk gets the gate for holding - but not without a little whining on his way in
9:03 - I'm confused by the fans down below me in front of the press box that have been riding Vanek all night long. Apparently this is the first game they've watched.
9:05 - 3-3: Hartnell goes short side on Miller with a wrist shot from the faceoff dot. (14:45)
9:07 - Giroux picks up the lone assist, and is back within 1 point of Phil Kessel for the league lead in points (35-34)
9:10 - 3:20 left in the 2nd
9:12 - PHIL 4-3: Jagr uses two Sabres as a screen and fires a shot past Miller from the slot to give Philly their first lead of the night.
9:13 - Giroux gets his third assist of the night, and is now tied with Kessel for the points lead.
9:16 - End of 2: Flyers score 3 times to take a 4-3 lead. They also outshoot Buffalo 9-5.
9:33 - Gerbe - upper body injury, will not return
9:33 - Game on!
9:38 - 16:18 left in the 3rd. Sabres with the only shot so far this period.
9:40 - Couturier with a slapper from the left side that Miller stops easily.
9:41 - Ennis with a nice feed to a charging Stafford in the crease and he tips it just wide.
9:47 - 10:52 remaining in regulation
9:50 - Flyers use their timeout with 9:25 left on the clock. Buffalo leads this low-shot period 3-2.
9:59 - Stafford is camped out on Bryzgalov's doorstep, but can't convert the spinorama play on the Pominville pass
10:01 - 2:45 left in the 3rd. Shots are up to 5-3 now in favor of the Flyers
10:03 - GOAL!
10:04 - 4-4: Drewwww Stafford jumps into the slot to one time the Pominville pass from behind the net to even the score with just 1:35 left.
10:05 - Flyers ice the puck with 42.5 left.
10:07 - We're headed to OOOOOO-vertime!
10:08 - Sabres are 3-1 in OT this season; Flyers are 2-3.
10:09 - 9/21/44/24 on the ice for Buffalo
10:11 - 3:45 left. Kassian joins Leino up front. McNabb and Sekera on D
10:12 - Miller grabs the loose puck as it bounces dangerously through a crowd of players
10:13 - PHIL 5-4. Giroux scores the game winner.