PHILADELPHIA --The Sabres desperately needed a win anywhere. Getting one on the road in overtime was an added bonus.
Buffalo won for just the third time in nine games Tuesday, picking up a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia. Zemgus Girgensons scored his first goal of the season on a breakaway with 2:31 remaining in overtime.
The goal came seconds after goaltender Chad Johnson robbed Scott Laughton for his 30th save of the night.
The celebration in Wells Fargo Center ended a two-game losing streak and gave Buffalo its first road victory in three tries. The Sabres improved to 3-6 overall while dropping the Flyers to 4-2-2. Buffalo had a 40-33 shot advantage, marking the seventh time it outshot the opponent this season.
Pull the goalie: With goaltender Steve Mason on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, the Flyers connected for the tying goal. Claude Giroux's shot hit the stick of Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly, fluttered toward the goal and was tipped home by Brayden Schenn with 53.2 seconds left in regulation.
Can't see it, can't stop it: Jake McCabe's shot from the point zipped through the screen set by Jack Eichel in front and dipped past Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason with 10:22 left to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead. The goal came just 1:24 after the Flyers tied the game.
Mistakes hurt: The Flyers took advantage of three Sabres to tie it, 2-2, with 11:46 left. Laughton blew by Cody Franson, then avoided a wild dive by McCabe. Laughton then fed across the crease for Brayden Schenn, who beat Marcus Foligno to the net for the tap-in.
Rare leads: The Sabres entered the first intermission with a 2-1 lead, just the second time in their nine games they were in front after 20 minutes. They maintained that lead with a scoreless second period, making it just the second time they were in front after 40 minutes.
Fall guy: Tyler Ennis opened the scoring after a tremendous effort behind the Philly net. He and Ryan O’Reilly kept the puck away from the Flyers, with Ennis ultimately spinning away from Claude Giroux and chipping the puck home from below the goal line while falling down. Though it was a fine individual play, goaltender Steve Mason should have made the easy save. Instead, the puck fluttered under his arm.
Powerful fill-in: With left wing Evander Kane out for at least a month with a knee injury, the Sabres had a hole on the power play. Johan Larsson filled it immediately, picking up the primary assist on Jamie McGinn’s first goal with Buffalo. Brian Gionta, Larsson and McGinn played a quick game of tic-tac-toe, with McGinn’s deposit making it 2-0 with 10:39 gone. Of the Sabres’ first 17 goals, nine came on the power play.
Leather bounce: The Flyers cut their deficit to 2-1 on Chris VandeVelde’s slap shot from above the left faceoff circle with 5:40 left in the first. Mark Pysyk got his stick near VandeVelde’s just as the forward wound up, and the puck bounced off the bottom of Johnson’s glove and in.
No. 2 picks line up together: Center Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart again played on the same line, with Larsson joining the duo. “Sam’s really the guy that has benefitted from him the most and complemented Jack in some ways the best in terms of his smartness, his hockey sense, going to areas and also getting him the puck,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “Jack’s a skater with the puck and needs to get it in certain spots to be effective in that regard, and Sam’s been the best in some terms of getting him the puck in those areas. “That relationship’s going to be one for a long time. It’s just starting to grow and foster right now. They’re young kids, but they’re growing and going to be leaders for this team on and off the ice.”
Buffalove: While honoring Danny Briere’s career on a special retirement night, the Flyers showed clips of well-wishes from former teammates and coaches. Former Sabres goalie Martin Biron and longtime Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff sent their regards. “Your days in Buffalo were special and made us a great team,” Ruff said. Save, save, save: The teams combined for 27 shots during the second period, but the goalies stopped them all. Johnson turned aside 13 shots, while Mason stopped the Sabres’ 14 attempts.
Pennsylvania return: The big moments for Bylsma will come Wednesday and Thursday when the coach returns to Pittsburgh, where he spent parts of six seasons as head coach. But he got a decent appetizer Tuesday when he walked into the Flyers’ arena. Philly was Pittsburgh’s biggest rival. “There’s quite a few memories,” Bylsma said. “My first road win as a coach was in this building, so yes it’s pretty familiar halls coming in here.”
Defensive switch: The Sabres went with the same six defensemen, but Bylsma swapped two pairs. Jake McCabe skated with Cody Franson, while Carlo Colaiacovo played with Mark Pysyk. The top pair of Josh Gorges and Rasmus Ristolainen remained intact. Mike Weber was a healthy scratch for the second straight game, while Tim Schaller sat for the forwards.
Kicking it: Marcus Foligno found the net for the first time this season, but the officials quickly waived off his apparent first-period goal. He kicked the puck toward the net, and it bounced in off the skate of Philly’s Michael Raffl. According to Rule 49.2, “A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who kicks a puck that deflects into the net off any player, goalkeeper or official.”
Up next: The Sabres hope Eichel and Reinhart become the next Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. All four should be on the ice when Buffalo visits Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Penguins will be finishing back-to-backs after hosting Washington on Wednesday. The game will be the start of a back-to-back for Buffalo, which welcomes the Flyers to town Friday.
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