The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-3 but don't let the score fool you. This was a typical see-saw game that seen both teams control play for large stretches. In the end it was the Sabres that made too many mistakes. Both teams had plenty of chances but it was the Flyers that took advantage of Buffalo miscues.
It was a see-saw game and the Flyers got to ride first. Phildealphia dominated the first 20 minutes of play and only Ryan Miller's heroics kept the score 1-0. The Flyers peppered Miller with 13 shots in the first period and many were from close range. Miller made save after save and the Sabres finally started to turn things around in the last couple of minutes of the period.
Buffalo scored an early second period goal to tie the game up. They seemed to build off that and it was their turn to control play. With the score tied 1-1 the Sabres had a two minute let down in their own zone that was magnified by a horrific play by Jochen Hecht who failed to clear the puck. The Flyers took advantage and went back ahead 2-1. Buffalo tied the game again but they had another huge breakdown allowing Mike Richards to score on a breakaway despite his team being shorthnaded. Buffalo managed to draw even before the period ended and the teams were tied 3-3 after two periods.
The third period was the Flyers turn to take advantage and they went ahead on a power play goal. Once again it was not without Sabres errors. Toni Lydman took a lazy hooking penalty (looked more like a trip but Koharski was the referee tonight) and the Sabres had another breakdown. Jaro Spacek gave the puck away behind the net and Mike Knuble stood alone in front while Jochen Hecht watched and Teppo Numminen was slow to cover. The result...the game winning goal. Philadelphia added two empty net goals to make the game look like a blowout but it was anything but.
There was no faulting the Sabres effort tonight (unlike Sunday against Carolina), maybe they just aren't good enough to compete with teams like the Flyers. That's probably harsh because the game could have gone either way but it get's frustrating watching these simple mistakes. There never seems to be an end to the giveaways with this team.
A Goalie Duel to the Finish
It's been a couple of seasons since Marty Biron was traded away by the Buffalo Sabres but it's always a secondary story line when the Sabres play the Flyers. You can always expect good goaltending when Miller and Biron play against each otger because they both have something to prove. For the second time this season it was Biron who came away with bragging rights.
Ryan Miller came out as the losing Goalie but it wasn't because he played poorly. It's become commonplace to talk about Miller being good after a game but it's hard not to talk about his play. He allowed four goals tonight but it could have easily been 10 if he didn't play so well. Miller was especially good in the first period when he kept the Sabres in the game.
In the end it was Biron who had 39 saves and Miller had only 30 but it seemed that Miller mad ethe tougher saves. It could be the bias of watching Miller every night but nobody could deny he was good tonight. Is it my Ryan Miller bias or was he the better Goalie tonight?
Spacek Lights the Lamp
It seems like just yesterday that I was talking about how Spacek has struggled to score goals. He is not struggling anymore. he scored the Sabres first two goals tonight and the second one was a bullet slap shot that looked like it could rival the NHL's hardest shot.
With his two goals tonight, Spacek now has six goals on the season. It's right about where you would expect him to be at this point of the season. Spacek is not quite Mike Green but he has been hot lately, scoring four goals in his last seven games. Those are numbers that are usually reserved for the leagues best goal scorers and not a guy who has only six goals on the season.
No Answer For Richards
I usually keep this section of the recap to talk about the Sabres but i'd be remiss if I didn't mention Mike Richards. Before the game all the talk was about Jeff Carter and rightfully so, he has 34 goals and 59 points. What we failed to mention is that Mike Richards is the young captain of the Flyers and with good reason. Richards was a one-man wrecking crew tonight. He lit the lamp twice and added three assists. He had a total of five ponts and finished with a plus five on the game. Most Sabres aren't a plus five on the season. If that wasn't enough, he was dominating in the face-off circle as well. He won 17-of-24 face-offs on the evening for a total of 71%.
It's a shame that it came in another loss but tonight was by far the best Game Thread to date. Thanks to everyone who contributed tonight and hopefully we'll see you back on a regular basis. It was our friend dfderie that led the way with 72 comments.
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The Sabes will return home for a pair of games that begin on Saturday against the New York Rangers. It's a huge game in the standings and it's always fun to see Drury back in Buffalo.