The Flyers may have waded their way into this game, spotting the Sabres an early pair of goals, but they turned it on when they had to – as any winning team knows how – and walked away with a 5-2 win.
A shaky start by the defense and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed Buffalo to capitalize on a pair of somewhat strange goals and start a game that – if this was the same Flyers team as in years past – would have likely been a rout. Instead, the Flyers took advantage of the opportunities handed them to climb back into the contest, then when the game was up for grabs, they ripped it from the Sabres’ clutches.
Buffalo, missing a top scorer in Derek Roy, is currently rolling with an extra defenseman at the expense of four consistent forward lines – they instead mix in an extra two forwards to go with their three lines. Without some of their offensive power, they’ve chosen to adapt and play a stronger defensive game in front of the quality goaltending of Ryan Miller.
This could have been bad news for the Flyers as they fell down by two goals early. But with more than fifty minutes yet to play, the Flyers didn’t think twice as they set to work in fighting back. It started with a quality shift immediately following the Buffalo goal. With some momentum going their way, the Flyers picked up the pace and drew a penalty.
Captain Mike Richards delivered a stunning hit on Jochen Hecht as he cleared the puck on the penalty kill, forcing a turnover that led to a Kimmo Timonen point shot that deflected off of Scott Hartnell and past Miller.
Buffalo continued to press, but the Flyers – with a few flashy saves by Sergei Bobrovsky and their patented team defense – held on to stay within a goal until Danny Briere tied it late in the second period.
In the third period, a set-up by Danny Briere for a streaking Ville Leino picked up the Flyers’ go-ahead goal. Briere was on fire against his former team, picking up four points – a goal and three assists – to give his team the upper hand.
Mike Richards sealed the deal with a blocked shot-turned-breakaway and a beautiful head fake against Miller for the Flyers’ fourth on the night. An empty net goal later, and the Flyers left Buffalo’s HSBC Arena with a well-earned 5-2 win.
Once again, the Flyers as a team showed why they have continued to win hockey games and hold one of the league’s top spots. It doesn’t always go the way it should – they may fall behind early or blow a late game lead – but they know how to turn any situation into a win, and they have the talent to do so.
After finishing up a five game road trip that started after coming back from the Christmas holiday, the Flyers enjoyed a single game at home before starting off this road trip that includes four games up and down the East coast – from Buffalo to Boston to Atlanta and New York.
All of these games represent tough match ups, but they’re all games the Flyers should win. In their minds, it’s one down, three to go.