The Buffalo Sabres managed to shut down the top line of the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night. They just didn't shut down the rest of the Flyers.
Philadelphia received goals from three different players -- none of whom were named Eric Lindros or John LeClair -- and defeated the Sabres, 3-1, before 17,380 in The Spectrum.
Lindros and LeClair have been teaming with Mikael Renberg to form the hottest line in the National Hockey League of late. Buffalo caught a break when Renberg had to sit out Sunday's game with a sore right shoulder. Once the game started, the Sabres limited Lindros to one assist and stopped LeClair completely.
"We thought that if we shut down LeClair and Lindros that we would have a chance," Matthew Barnaby, Buffalo's lone goal-scorer, said. "But we gave up a bit too much in other areas."
The loss sent the Sabres back to the .500 mark, and they fell behind Hartford into fifth place in the Northeast Division. They are in a three-way tie with the Rangers and Florida for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and are the second lowest scoring team in the league, ahead of only Ottawa.
Kevin Dineen, Dimitri Yushkevich and Eric Desjardins tallied for the Flyers, who did all of their scoring in the first 26 minutes. Dineen was happy to see different members of the Philadelphia roster contribute to the attack.
"I think the wear and tear is catching up with them," the winger said about the Lindros line. "I know Eric isn't feeling very well. Mikael is dragging. All three of them are a little sick.
"You're not going to win a lot of games if you depend on one line, so it was nice to see us spread it around a little bit tonight."
Dineen's goal, which opened the scoring, was the 300th of his career. The 31-year-old has played some of his best games over the years against the Sabres, going back to his days with the Hartford Whalers in the 1980s.
Number 300 wasn't the most beautiful goal of his career -- he stuck out his stick on a shot from the point by Karl Dykhuis, and the puck deflected off it and into the net -- but he didn't mind.
"They don't ask how; they ask how many," he said.
The goal was part of a pivotal first period in which both sides could have taken control of the game. Dineen's power-play goal was followed by a short-handed score by Yushkevich, as he got behind the Buffalo defense and beat goalie Dominik Hasek. The Sabres may have had the better chances in the first 20 minutes, but they trailed, 2-0.
"We talked about getting off to a good start, but we didn't. We got right behind the eight ball," Sabres' center Bob Sweeney said.
Desjardins' goal in the second period put the lead at 3-0, but Barnaby scored his first of the season 27 seconds later to cut into the margin. The goal left the Sabres with 34 minutes to score two more goals.
They got none. The Flyers did a good job of protecting their lead the rest of the way, although they were helped by a couple of friendly goalposts. Buffalo finished with 24 shots on goalie Dominic Roussel to 29 for Philadelphia.
"In the first and second periods we missed some opportunities. We couldn't bury the puck," Barnaby said. "After that, frustration set in. . . . We're professional hockey players, and we can't let that happen."
Center Derek Plante added, "They're a good team, and once you get behind them, they are even better. It's hard to catch up to teams in this league. They play such good defense in the third period."
With the team having lost four of its last five starts, Barnaby has become worried.
"We've got to start winning and turn this around," he said. "We've got to get a streak of four or five wins. It's time to go back to work."
The Sabres' next opportunity to do that will come Tuesday night at the Aud against Quebec.