It might have been a battle between the high-offense Flyers and stingy Sabres, but the Flyers were also battling on another front: the flu. Arron Asham, Daniel Carcillo, Matt Carle, and Danny Briere were among those who were hit by the flu bug over the past few days. Of that group, only Briere did not make the trip, still hampered by a lower groin injury.
Solid goaltending and strong defensive plays were on display during the first period for both teams.
The Flyers' league-leading power play got an early opportunity but was unable to convert, going 0-for-4 on the night.
Shortly thereafter, David Laliberte went off for slashing - though it was really a stick to the face - and the Flyers' penalty killers did a great job, including a shorthanded breakaway for Powe who was stoned by Ryan Miller.
With just under seven minutes remaining, Kimmo Timonen sprang Richards on a breakaway, but the captain wasn't able to get a good shot on Miller.
Shortly after goaltender Ray Emery was forced to make a tricky save on a Thomas Vanek redirect, his teammates rewarded him. Defenseman Braydon Coburn unleashed a slapper from the point, and Carcillo was able to bat it out of the air past Miller for a 1-0 lead with just 1:21 remaining in the period. The play was reviewed for a possible high stick, but the goal stood.
Shots at the end of the first favoured the Flyers, 11-9.
The Flyers followed up a late-period goal with an early one in the second. Less than thirty seconds in, Pronger skated over the Buffalo blue line, and took a harmless-looking wrist shot. The puck deflected off defenseman Craig Rivet and sailed past a screened Miller giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
The Sabres answered four minutes later on a 4-on-3 power play. Jason Pominville's shot from the point missed the net but caromed off the back boards and landed on Derek Roy's blade who made no mistake in finding the empty side of the Flyer net.
That goal seemed to give the Sabres squad a boost, as they dominated play for several minutes and were able to sustain pressure in the Flyers zone.
As is often the case in hockey, momentum isn't everything. You also need a bit of luck, and the Flyers certainly had lots of it on this night. James van Riemsdyk scored his third NHL goal while the teams were playing four aside. JVR and Jeff Carter rushed up ice on a 2-on-1 and JVR attempted a pass that seemed to fool Miller and beat him between the legs for a 3-1 Flyers lead.
Shots after two periods were 25-17 Philadelphia.
At 2:34 of the third period, Darrol Powe picked up a Buffalo turnover in the Sabres zone and fired a knuckle ball past Miller to put the Flyers up 4-1.
The Sabres got another power play goal at the midway point when six-foot-seven rookie defenseman Tyler Myers, near the Flyers goal line on a rush, shot the puck off Coburn's skate which ended up in the Flyers net.
That is as close as the Sabres got. Carcillo, who was one of the best players for the Flyers on this night, sealed the 5-2 victory with his second goal of the night, this one into an empty net.
The Flyers were certainly guilty of some sloppy play in the third, and Emery responded by making some timely saves to keep the Sabres at bay. Otherwise, this may have been a much closer game.
Philadelphia outshot Buffalo 37-30.
With the win, the Flyers improve to 8-4-1 and will return home to face the St. Louis Blues (5-6-2) tomorrow night.
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