Hot Start Propels Flyers Past Sabres
For a national broadcast on Versus, the Philadelphia Flyers (7-4-1) traveled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres (6-5-0) Wednesday.
Unbeknownst to the viewers, they’d only have to watch the first 6:23 to find out the outcome.
In an early period blitzkrieg, Philadelphia scored three goals before Buffalo could find their skates en route to a 3-2 victory.
The first strike came when rookie Sean Couturier found the puck in front of an open net. With Ryan Miller out of position, Couturier easily scored just 1:43 into the game.
Thirteen seconds later, James van Riemsdyk found the puck after Zac Rinaldo forced a turnover from defenseman Jordan Leopold.
As he skated down the boards to Miller’s right, van Riemsdyk rifled a toe-drag over the star goaltender’s left shoulder.
Barely two minutes into the game, the Flyers looked to have complete control. Scott Hartnell only emphasized that when he launched a shot over Miller’s left shoulder with 13:37 to play in the first.
Miller was immediately pulled from the game for Jhonas Enroth. He allowed the three goals on just 11 shots.
Hartnell and van Riemsdyk’s goals were eerily similar to the one that Ville Leino used to beat Miller last year in game seven of the first round of the playoffs.
This time, Leino watched from the opposite side.
Although Philadelphia had a cushion, Buffalo would carry play for the second half of the first period and into the second.
Andrej Sekera would eventually break goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s shutout when an awkward bounce helped the puck find its way into the back of Philadelphia’s net.
Sekera’s goal came 7:49 into the second stanza, but Buffalo failed to tally in the remainder of the period.
Luke Adam would score on another fluky bounce with 11:31 remaining in the game. Despite numerous opportunities, the Flyers turned away each chance.
Just when it looked like the Flyers were about to seal the game, Andreas Nodl took an elbowing penalty.
The penalty enabled Buffalo to take an offensive zone faceoff with a two-man advantage. Bryzgalov stepped up on a last-second shot by Vanek and the Flyers skated off with a 3-2 victory.
Without Daniel Briere and Matt Read in the lineup, the Flyers found a way to strike early and often. Their strong start was a confidence boost for the team, but their play after the first 6:36 was a cause for concern.
Buffalo’s desperation coupled with some undisciplined play had the Flyers struggling to maintain their early pace.
After the first three goals, Wednesday’s contest had all the makings of a drubbing by Philadelphia. Despite their inability to ‘put the game away’, they still managed a victory on the road. For a young team with injury troubles, a road win can’t be overlooked.
The Flyers will fly home tonight and host New Jersey (4-5-1) tomorrow in what promises to be a battle. Philadelphia will need more than a strong first 6:36 to beat the Devils.
Wednesday, they didn’t need more than that.
Neither did the viewers.
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