The Buffalo Sabres looked like they were going to be able to put together an impressive performance in front of a national televised audience. Then, the team fell apart and blew a three goal lead in the second period on their way to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night. The last time the Sabres lost a three goal lead was against these Flyers in a 4-3 shootout loss on February 25, 2008.
The Sabres started the first period off with a bang. Ville Leino scored his third goal of the season at the 10:16 mark of the period on a pretty power play tic-tac-toe goal from Zack Kassian and Luke Adam. It was Leino's first goal in the last 13 games, his last coming on November 11th against the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres second goal came eight minutes later when Zack Kassian ripped a shot over the glove hand of Ilya Bryzgalov to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead.
The momentum started to shift late in the first period for the Sabres. They got out to a 3-0 lead at the 19:37 mark of the first period on a Thomas Vanek power play goal. Twenty two seconds later, the Flyers got on the board with a Maxime Talbot shot that beat Miller over the glove with less than a second left on the clock. As soon as the puck dropped, Corey Tropp and Zac Rinaldo, two players who have a history, dropped the gloves in a decision that was easily in Tropp's favor:
That got the crowd truly involved in the game, but the Flyers just manhandled the Sabres in the second and third periods. Matt Read got the scoring started for the Flyers in the second at the 5:17 mark, Scott Hartnell scored at the 14:45 mark, and Jaromir Jagr at the 17:48 mark. Those three unanswered goals gave the Flyers a 4-3 lead coming out of the second period.
From there, the Flyers played shut down defense and managed to allow only five shots on goal to the Sabres in the third period. Even with the lack of shots, Drew Stafford managed to find the back of the net to tie the game at four with 1:35 left in the game. After managing to get a point out of the game, Marc-Andre Gragnani throws a blind pass in the middle of the ice to Claude Giroux and Giroux scored the game winner at the 2:38 mark of overtime. That goal was Giroux's fourth point of the night, he registered assists on each of the last three goals for the Flyers.
More after the jump.
- The Buffalo Sabres had 12 giveaways on the night and head coach Lindy Ruff blamed the team's puck management for the loss. "What killed us was what we did with the puck, our puck management wasn't very good. It cost us probably four goals on the night, including the last play where we just threw it blind across the ice for a breakaway goal."
- Marc-Andre Gragnani is going to become the goat of the game after making that blind pass to end the game. He did finish the game with an assist on the game tying goal and his +1 on the night puts him in the rookie lead in plus/minus with a +10. Gragnani was very quick with his response after the game. "No, I didn't see him. If I would have seen him, I wouldn't have tried that pass."
- The Sabres are back in Brendan Shanahan's spotlight again as well with a boarding call in the second period from Philadelphia's Marc-Andre Bourdon to Nathan Gerbe. It happened at the 3:10 mark of the second period:
Gerbe didn't return to the game after the hit with an upper body injury, which can only be speculated as a concussion. The subsequent fight for Ellis garnered him 17 total penalty minutes, two and ten for instigating and five for fighting while Bourdon only got two for boarding and five for fighting. Head coach Lindy Ruff had these comments after the game.
"Do you think it should be a major?"
"I think so, i definitely think so. There was no turning, there was just a hit from behind and head first into the glass.
The Sabres have another day and a half before they take on the Florida Panthers on Friday night at the First Niagara Center, their second of five straight in front of the home crowd.