PHILADELPHIA – Newly acquired defenseman Brandon Montour lifted his right-handed stick high in the air and whiffed trying to one-time a cross-ice pass from Jack Eichel, sending the Philadelphia Flyers on an odd-man rush toward Carter Hutton.
The puck was in the back of the Buffalo Sabres' net seconds later for a two-goal lead in the third period and there would be no comeback, as they fell to the Flyers, 5-2, Tuesday night in Wells Fargo Center.
The Sabres (29-26-8) are now eight points back of the second wild-card playoff spot and could awake Wednesday as the Eastern Conference's 12th-place team, pending Florida's result in Arizona.
The Flyers (30-26-7), who leapt one point ahead of Buffalo for 10th in the standings, pushed their lead to two goals when Travis Sanheim scored off Montour's turnover 46 seconds into the third period, and Claude Giroux added an empty-netter with 2:52 left in regulation. Oskar Lindblom, Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Philadelphia.
Buffalo, which received 40 saves from Hutton, twice cut the deficit to one with goals from Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt. However, the Sabres made too many mistakes defensively, despite Montour making his debut following the pre-deadline trade from Anaheim.
Opening salvo: Hemmed in their own zone thanks to Johan Larsson's penalty, the Sabres allowed the opening goal when Lindblom was alone to Hutton's left and collected a pass. He was allowed to take a clear shot on goal with Marco Scandella opting to try to block a possible cross-slot pass and scored for a 1-0 lead at 2:48 into the game.
Third shot: Giroux's shot from the left-wing circle was stopped by Hutton, but no one could clear the rebound from the front of the net. Voracek's first hack at the loose puck was stopped by Hutton, but his second went in for a 2-0 lead at 7:52 into the first period.
Eichel again: Mittelstadt drew a hooking call, and Eichel capitalized on the ensuing power play at 12:08 into the first with a wrist shot over goalie Brian Elliott's glove. Rasmus Dahlin managed to keep the puck from crossing the blue line, and Jeff Skinner found Eichel alone in the slot.
Eichel has 22 goals through 60 games and extended his point streak to six games. Still, the Flyers had 13 more shots and 16 more shot attempts during the first 20 minutes.
Debut: Montour skated alongside Scandella and received power-play ice time despite not having practiced with the team. He had one of the team's six shots on goal during the first period.
Back-and-forth second: The Flyers led 3-2 entering the third period after both teams scored in the second period. Van Riemsdyk gained position behind Montour in front of the net and deflected a shot for a goal at 15:13.
Mittelstadt scored when he one-timed a pass from Evan Rodrigues over Elliott's blocker with 2:07 left in the second period.
Lineup: Defensemen Matt Hunwick and Casey Nelson, and winger Tage Thompson were healthy scratches for Buffalo. Mittelstadt returned after missing the previous two games with an illness. Vladimir Sobotka left with an injury in the second period and did not return.
Recalled: Danny O'Regan, a 25-year-old winger, was recalled by the Sabres less than 24 hours after he was officially reassigned to Rochester. O'Regan was a healthy scratch against the Flyers and the roster move was done to ensure he is eligible to join the Amerks for the playoffs.
Next: The Sabres are off Wednesday and will return to practice Thursday in Harborcenter. They host Pittsburgh on Friday night in KeyBank Center.