PHILADELPHIA – The second period has been Buffalo’s nemesis all season long, and it reared its ugly head again on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Flyers scored seven unanswered goals over the final two periods as they trampled the Buffalo Sabres 7-2 at Wells Fargo Center. Wayne Simmonds and Max Talbot each scored twice for the Flyers, and Claude Giroux picked up a career-high five assists in the win. The loss was Buffalo’s third in a row, and brought an abrupt halt to their three-game road winning streak.
Buffalo now has a record of 24-27-6, and they are in 14th spot in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference – 10 points out of the eighth and final playoff position currently occupied by Toronto.
After taking a promising 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, the Sabres quickly fell behind 4-2 in the second after the Flyers scored four times in the opening 13:48. Buffalo has now been outscored 61-42 in the second period this season, with the minus-19 goal differential being their worst of any period. Philadelphia added three more in the third to cap off their night.
“At this time of year it’s unacceptable to get a lead like that and blow it the way we did,” said Pominville. “To give up seven unanswered goals at this time of year, it’s just not going to cut it.”
His coach didn’t disagree.
“That’s about as bad as you can play defensively,” said a frustrated Lindy Ruff, using that statement to bring an end to his 90-second post-game press conference.
Ruff was encouraged by the team’s start, but blamed poor defensive coverages on their eventual collapse. Even when Buffalo fell behind in the second, Ruff said they became their own worst enemy when trying to catch up.
“I thought we’d play well for a couple of minutes and get a couple of great opportunities,” he explained. “We start the third period, get a great opportunity and it goes off the post. Then we go down the other way, make a crap play and let them score.”
Jhonas Enroth started for Buffalo, but was replaced by Ryan Miller after giving up Philadelphia’s first three goals on seven shots in the second period. Even though Enroth understood that he couldn’t be faulted for any of the goals he allowed, and was likely pulled to try and spark the team, he was at a loss for words when asked to describe what happened in that fateful second period.
“I don’t know. They came out really hard and we didn’t respond at all.”
Buffalo finished the night scoreless on seven power plays, while the Flyers converted on two of their three man advantage situations. The Sabres have now given up four power play goals in their past two games, and have scored just twice in 27 power plays over their last 10 games.
Tonight’s game opened up Buffalo’s 16th of a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games. They are now 9-7-0 in the first game, and head into Friday with a record of 5-7-3 in the second game.
The Sabres continue their stretch of three games in four nights when they return home to face Montreal on Friday at 7:30 p.m. That’s followed by their only afternoon home game of the season on Sunday against Pittsburgh at 12:30 p.m.
1-0 BUF: Myers wires a pass from the corner to Pominville all alone in front. (5:15)- … 2-0 BUF: Ennis fed Vanek just inside the blueline, and he blasted a shot past Bryzgalov.(9:30)… Shots: BUF-12, PHIL-11
2-1: Talbot gets the Flyers on the board when he tips Coburn’s point shot in front. (:54)… 2-2: With Myers off for tripping, Simmonds bangs home a rebound in front. (3:32, PP)… 3-2: In almost identical fashion to his first goal, Simmonds spins in front and puts back the rebound (6:49, PP)… 4-2 PHIL: Voracek drops to Gustafsson and he one times the shot past Miller for his first NHL goal (13:48)… Shots: PHIL-12, BUF-6
5-2: Talbot is left all alone at the side of the net and he blasts home Wellwood's pass from the corner. (3:58)… 6-2: Voracek grabs the loose puck in front and dekes Miller for his 10th of the year (4:29)… 7-2: Hartnell streaks in from the left side to tap home Read's saucer pass (9:25)… Shots: PHIL-12, BUF-11
SABRES NOTES: With his goal in the first period, Thomas Vanek moved past Miroslav Satan for sole possession of seventh spot on the franchise goal scoring list with 235… Jason Pominville extended his point streak to six games with a goal in the first period… Cody McCormick (upper body) and Marc-Andre Gragnani (healthy) were Buffalo’s scratches… McCormick has now missed three games, and has not practiced since being injured against Dallas last Friday.