Buffalo 5 – Philadelphia 2
First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)
Thomas Vanek had a career-high five points, including three in the third period, as the Buffalo Sabres scored three unanswered goals in a 4:15 span late in the third to open the season with decisive 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers before a sold-out First Niagara Center crowd. Buffalo scored three times on the power play, with newcomer Steve Ott getting things started midway through the first period. Tyler Myers scored the game winner at 14:57 of the third period on a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that appeared to deflect in off the skate of Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Jason Pominville chipped in three assists, and Ryan Miller stopped 27 shots to earn the victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Thomas Vanek: Set a new career-high with five points, scoring two goals and adding three assists. He becomes the first NHL player to record five points in a season opener since Steven Reinprecht of Phoenix had a goal and four assists vs. NY Islanders on October 5, 2006. Vanek’s previous career high was four points, which he had accomplished four times – the last being December 16, 2011 vs. Toronto. Vanek also led both teams with nine shots, matching his career-best single-game total. Dating back to last season, Vanek has 16 points (5+11) in his last 12 games.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
The Sabres are now 24-14-4 in season openers; 17-6-4 at home… Eight different Sabres recorded a point, the most in a season opener since 10 found the scoresheet in a 6-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Oct. 5, 2007… Vanek’s five-point game was the first by a Sabres player since Drew Stafford had three goals and two assists vs. Atlanta on Jan. 18, 2008… Steve Ott scored on his first shot as a Sabre at 11:07 of the first period to stake Buffalo to an early 1-0 lead. It was the first time in Ott’s career that he scored in the season opener... With his three assists, Pominville now has 27 points (11+16) in 27 career games against Philadelphia… Pominville has not gone two consecutive home games without recording a point since Feb. 25/26, 2011… Miller and Vanek are the only Sabres to have played in every season opener since 2005… Lindy Ruff improved to 9-5-1 in season openers as Sabres head coach… Buffalo won 36 of 67 faceoffs in the game (54%); Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux led both teams with 15 wins… This was just the second time the Sabres have opened the season against Philadelphia; previous was 2-0 loss on Oct. 9, 2004.
BUFFALO’S REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Time on Ice: Tyler Myers, 23:11
Shots: Thomas Vanek, 9
Blocked Shots: Robyn Regehr, 3
Faceoff Wins: Cody Hodgson/Tyler Ennis, 11
Total Faceoffs: Hodgson, 20
Hits: Steve Ott, 5
Buffalo was three-for-six on the power play, and killed off three of four Flyers man advantages. All three of Buffalo’s power play goals came while playing five-on-four. Christian Ehrhoff was on the ice for all three goals. On two of the goals, the Sabres were using four forwards on the power play unit. The Sabres only scored three or more power play goals twice last season, and were just three-for-19 over their last five games.
Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko had 11:13 of ice time in his NHL debut, becoming the sixth 18-year-old to ever dress for the Sabres. He finished the night with two shots on goal, and won five of nine faceoffs. Just like his confidence and comfort levels, Grigorenko’s ice time gradually increased each period (2:50, 4:08, 4:15) after being held back early because of special teams play. His first NHL shot was a wrist shot right off a Steve Ott faceoff win in the second period. Grigorenko also made a nifty behind-the-back pass to Ott at the edge of the crease in that period, and drew a tripping penalty on Ruslan Fedotenko in the third period while driving to the net. He also had some brief time on the power play, on the right side of a line with Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis.
* Monday @ Toronto, 7 p.m.
* Thursday @ Carolina, 7 p.m.
* Friday vs. Carolina, 7 p.m.