By Marj Gallagher
The Flyers got their mojo back last night in Buffalo!
”For sure it’s a boost in confidence,” Sean Couturier said following a 6-3 win over the Sabres. ”Everyone’s contributing. We’ve got all four lines rolling. And that’s what we need the rest of the year if we want to make the playoffs.”
Couturier had two assists in a game defenseman Radko Gudas led with a goal and two assists. More important was who else scored in helping the Flyers, who matched a season high in goal production.
Claude Giroux snapped a 12-game goal drought and was credited with the eventual game-winner by capping a three-goal second-period surge that put the Flyers ahead 4-2. And Travis Konecny had a goal and assist in playing only his second game since missing nine with a lower body injury.
The Flyers improved to 3-0-1 in their past four. They also upped their point total to 70 and vaulted ahead of Tampa Bay and Florida into 10th place in the tightly contested race for the Eastern Conference’s final wild- card playoff berth.
”It’s important and it’s big that we’re getting wins like that and we’re starting to play our game,” Konecny said. ”This is definitely the week of our year to date, and I’m sure there will be more of these as we go through the end of the season here.”
The Flyers broke the game open by scoring four consecutive goals over an 11:33 stretch spanning the second and third periods.
Jack Eichel had two goals and an assist for Buffalo to extend the NHL’s longest active point streak to 11 games.
Evander Kane had a goal and assist for the Sabres, who continued losing ground in the standings by dropping to 1-5-2 in their past eight. Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots and has allowed 24 goals in his past six games.
”It’s not fun going into our building and hearing disappointment,” Lehner said. ”We’re trying. It’s just not working for us right now. There’s not much more to add to that.”
This was but the latest low point for a Buffalo team that’s begun to unravel over the past two weeks. The Sabres had squandered third-period leads in four of their previous seven, including a 3-0 edge in a 4-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
This time, the Sabres never had a chance to blow a lead in a game they were undone by bad bounces and defensive miscues.
With the game tied at 2, Weal was credited with the go-ahead goal with 6:12 left in the second period when Jakub Voracek’s centering pass from the left circle deflected in off Weal’s skate.
Giroux made it 4-2 when he was inexplicably allowed to stand alone to the right of the net. Lehner got his blocker up to stop Michael Del Zotto’s shot from the left point. The rebound caromed off Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges and directly to Giroux, who tapped in the bouncing puck for his 13th of the season.
”Yeah, frustrated is a good word,” Giroux said, referring to going 12 games without a goal. ”I just stuck with it and every line played a great game tonight. Yeah, it was great to get that goal.”
Matt Read opened the scoring by deflecting in Gudas’ shot from the right point, and after the Flyers gained the Buffalo zone off Eichel’s turnover in the neutral zone. Gudas’ goal that put Philly up 2-1 early in the second period came after Buffalo’s Marcus Foligno was stripped of the puck while attempting to skate backward out of his own zone.
Buffalo’s first two goals came on the power play. Kane tied the game at 1 in the first period by scoring from the right circle, and with Sam Reinhart screening goalie Steve Mason. Eichel scored from the slot after Ryan O’Reilly won a faceoff to the right of the Philly net.