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Sabres Notebook: Neuvirth is sharp in posting win against his old team

PHILADELPHIA — Michal Neuvirth had not started a game since Nov. 28 and had not won one since Nov. 2. So the former Sabres goaltender was one of the happiest people in Wells Fargo Center after making 30 saves Sunday to help the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 win over Buffalo.

The Flyers head into their bye week on a three-game winning streak and are 4-1 in their last five games.

“Definitely, it’s a huge win for me. I haven’t been feeling good about myself lately," said Neuvirth. "It’s frustrating when you get injured. I can’t help the teammates. I feel good about myself right now. Kind of a shame that we won three in a row and leaving for the break but it’s the schedule.”

Neuvirth was solid for the often-terrible 2014-15 tank Sabres, posting a 2.99 goals-against average and .918 save percentage even though he was just 6-17-3. He was traded at the deadline that year to the New York Islanders and has since played 70 games over the last three seasons with the Flyers.

Neuvirth is 3-5-1 this season with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage. He won 29 games for the Flyers over the last two years but Brian Elliott has dominated the team's crease this year by going 16-10-7 and starting the last 16 games.

"He was happy with the way we helped him out," Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning said of Neuvirth. "It’s not an easy team to play against. They've got some good forwards up front. Obviously, he’s had some tough breaks with being injured and 'Moose' (Elliott) playing well too. So for him to come in and play that good before a break like that, I think that’s good for his confidence."

Sabres are quiet on the scoreboard too as they fall in Philly

Neuvirth was sharp right from the outset, stopping all six Buffalo shots on two power plays in the first four minutes. He robbed Sam Reinhart with a glove save to keep the game scoreless in that stretch.

"Obviously it’s always good when you face early shots and get to it right away," Neuvirth said. "But I’ve had a good warmup and I was feeling good all morning. Penalty kill stepped up big for me there ... Sometimes you feel unbelievable and you just don’t get the puck. But tonight everything worked out for me.”

* * *

The Sabres shuffled their lines some, with Evander Kane going back on left wing with Jack Eichel and Reinhart. Zemgus Girgensons, who had been in that spot the last few games, played with
Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

Benoit Pouliot, a healthy scratch Friday in Winnipeg, returned to the lineup on the fourth line with Jacob Josefson and Johan Larsson. Jordan Nolan sat.

On defense, Justin Falk was the healthy scratch. Victor Antipin missed the entire trip with the flu and has not played since Dec. 19. The first couple games in that run were as a healthy

* * *

The Sabres got a scare early in the third period when goalie Robin Lehner was felled by a drive to the side of the neck by Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg. Lehner stayed down and was briefly  attended by trainers until getting to his feet. The crowd let out a loud groan as the replay was played on the Jumbotron.

"I'm a bit sore. It's what it is," Lehner said. "Got it in the side of the neck. Took me a while to get my feeling back but I'm fine."

* * *

Eichel has scored in just three of the last 14 games but he has seven goals in those games. Eichel had his first career hat trick Dec. 15 against Carolina, a pair of empty-net goals Dec. 22 against the Flyers and added two goals in the Dec. 29 overtime win at New Jersey.

Eichel's assist on Ryan O'Reilly's goal was his team-high 21st of the season and allowed him to snap a tie with Kane for the team scoring lead. Eichel now has 36 points and remains on a 70-point pace for the season. At 15 goals, he's on pace for a career-high 29.

The Wraparound: Flyers 4, Sabres 1

* * *

Sabres broadcaster Dan Dunleavy was dressed properly for the game — in blue and white with a red pocket square. And the ensemble came complete with a Bills tie featuring the club's red helmet.

Karin Housley, the wife of Sabres coach Phil Housley, tweeted a picture of her dueling televisions showing both games. She was wearing plastic glasses with "Let's Go" on one lens and a Bills logo
on the other.


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