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Sabres heed Housley's advice, stick with it in win

Phil Housley knew what was going through people's minds.

Here we go again.

The Buffalo Sabres had no goals through 40 minutes Friday, making that five straight periods without the red light flashing in KeyBank Center. Point-blank chances went unrewarded, and it looked like the fifth shutout of the season and second in a row was on its way.

In situations like that, the Sabres usually panic. They start taking chances and make bad plays, and the opponent gets rolling.

This time, the Sabres rolled. They scored four times in the final 16 minutes to earn a 4-2 victory over Philadelphia.

"I give credit to our guys because we've been in that position before where nothing is going in and, 'Here we go again,'" Housley said. "But they stuck with it. We kept telling them to just keep throwing pucks to the net, it's going to happen.

"Finally, we broke through. We didn't get away from what we were talking about."

The coach has been talking about staying the course. Buffalo looked good Tuesday during the first period against Boston, but after failing to score, the recklessness surfaced.

They looked good during the opening two periods Friday, and they stuck with it. It paid off.

"There's been times this year where we've had good periods and nothing to show for it or we're tied or we're down a goal," center Jack Eichel said. "Whether we take a few risks or push a little too hard, we end up giving up goals and then we find ourselves chasing.

'I thought we did a good job of sticking with our game plan through the 60 minutes."

The Wraparound: Sabres 4, Flyers 2

Ryan O'Reilly snapped a 0-0 tie with 16:01 to play, banking the puck off Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott from below the goal line. The unlikely goal snapped a skid of 66 shots without finding the net through five-plus periods.

"It was a much more consistent effort," O'Reilly said. "We had a good start. We talked in the room about sticking with that and keep doing the things we're doing well. It was a consistent game, and I thought we got rewarded in the third from it.

"We got some good bounces there that gave us a spark."

After looking like they might never score, the Sabres exploded. Evander Kane made it 2-0 with 8:52 remaining. Jack Eichel gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead with 1:07 to play and finished the 4-2 game with 0.6 seconds left.

Eichel became the first Buffalo player ever to score two empty-net goals in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

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"Offensively, it was kind of frustrating how many Grade A chances we had," O'Reilly said. "In the second and third intermission, we said, 'Let's keep shooting pucks. We're going to break them.' And that's exactly what happened."

The goal barrage made a deserving winner of goaltender Robin Lehner. He stopped 33 of 35 shots and wasn't beaten until the Flyers pulled Elliot during a power play with 2:10 remaining. Philadelphia scored again with 32 seconds left, making the finish more tense than it should have been.

"We stuck with it," said Lehner, who ranks first at home in the NHL with a .935 save percentage and 1.94 goals-against average.

The goalie has stopped 237 of 252 shots in his last seven games for a .940 save percentage.

"He's been outstanding," O'Reilly said. "He's been our best player. He's been showing up every night, giving us a chance to win. We haven't been scoring enough. There's not nearly enough goals."

There were on this night. The Sabres learned if they don't deviate from their plan, good things can happen. They'll try to carry that mindset into Saturday's game in Carolina.

"We easily could have got deterred and got wilted, but our guys stayed mentally strong," Housley said. "We just stuck with it."

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