In a matter of three seconds Wednesday night, Buffalo Sabres center Johan Larsson scored on a wrist shot from the left circle and dropped Philadelphia Flyers winger Scott Laughton with a right hook during a fight near center ice.
The sold-out crowd of 19,070 at KeyBank Center gave a loud standing ovation and roared in unison. That reaction paled in comparison to the final moments before the Sabres secured a 5-2 victory, clinching the franchise's first seven-game winning streak since it won the first 10 games of the 2006-07 season.
Buffalo is now 7-2-1 at home this season, on pace for its best mark since 1982-83, and 9-0-2 when scoring first. The Sabres will wake up on Thanksgiving with a 14-6-2 record after they didn't win their 14th game until Jan. 25 last season. Phil Housley's players found themselves in an unfamiliar position this time, though. After three third-period comebacks in their previous four games, the Sabres had to hold onto a four-goal lead.
Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds scored for the Flyers during a second period in which the Sabres were outshot, 11-5. Buffalo controlled play for much of the first period, receiving first-period goals from Larsson, Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson and Evan Rodrigues. Skinner's goal at 3:38, his team-leading 15th this season, on a rebound off a Jason Pominville shot, opened the scoring.
Larsson capped the first period with his wrist shot only 7.9 seconds left to beat Flyers goalie Alex Lyon, who was pulled before the second period, and fought Laughton after the ensuing faceoff. The Sabres held on behind the play of Carter Hutton and by controlling the puck in their own zone. Sam Reinhart scored the empty-net goal with 1:38 remaining.
Hutton made 22 saves, while Calvin Pickard stopped all eight shots after relieving Lyon.
Another big save: This wasn't Hutton's best game during the winning streak, but he made big saves in key moments. The best came with 6:49 remaining in the third period, when he stopped Travis Konecny's backhander from the slot. Konecny skated past Rasmus Dahlin to earn the scoring chance.
Second-period slump: Flyers center Sean Couturier spoiled any chance at a shutout when he controlled the puck behind the net, drew a defender and passed to Giroux at the right circle. Giroux's wrist shot beat Hutton for the Flyers' first goal and his eighth of the season.
Simmonds cut the Sabres' lead to two when his shot off a rebound beat Hutton with 6:09 remaining in the second period.
After the whistle: Tempers flared in the second period, a carryover from Larsson's knockout punch of Laughton. First, Sabres winger Zemgus Girgensons went after Giroux following a late hit. Dahlin then had a spat with Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas and Jake McCabe took exception to being slashed by Travis Konecny.
7-0-1: In addition to their five third-period comebacks this season, the Sabres are now 7-0-1 when leading after two periods.
19-for-20: By killing off Rasmus Ristolainen's interference penalty 3:19 into the third period, the Sabres' penalty kill is 19 of 20 over the past nine games.
Close call: Girgensons left the ice at 12:31 into the first after being hit by Zach Bogosian's shot and colliding with the Flyers' Dale Weise, but he returned for the second period. The Sabres were already down to 13 healthy forwards on the active roster after placing Patrik Berglund on injured reserve Wednesday.
Bouncing back: Aside from scoring the Sabres' second goal, Thompson played his best period of the season in the first. He used his size to push Flyers from in front of Hutton, forced two turnovers — including one that gave Buffalo possession moments before his goal — and showed the speed Housley was gushing over following the morning skate.
The drought ends: While the Sabres' penalty kill has been among the league's best this month, the power play entered Wednesday in a 3-for-26 drought. That ended at 8:55 into the first, when Rodrigues' shot from the slot beat Lyon to make it 3-0.
Buffalo nearly capitalized before that, though, when Rasmus Ristolainen's slap shot went through Lyon's leg pads and was smacked away by a defenseman nearly the goal line. The onslaught gave a 10-2 advantage in shots midway through the period and finished the first with a 12-7 advantage.
Another drought ends: That was Rodrigues' first goal of the season and couldn't have come at a better time for him. Rodrigues was a healthy scratch the previous three games, but he was back in the lineup with Berglund on injured reserve because of an "upper-body injury."
11-0: With a primary assist on Rodrigues' goal and empty-net goal, Reinhart has recorded eight points in his last eight games, and the Sabres are now 11-0 this season when Reinhart has at least one point.
Next: The Sabres will return to KeyBank Center for practice on Thanksgiving in preparation for a 4 p.m. Friday afternoon home game against the Montreal Canadiens.