The Flyers have stumbled similarly coming into the match, losers in three of their last four. The Sabres needed a win to keep pace with the white hot Lightning and the sprouting Leafs. Philadelphia risked losing ground to the New Jersey Devils in a race for last place in the Metropolitan division.
Unfortunately - and for the first time in nearly two months - concernedly, Buffalo was shut down for 55 minutes, falling completely apart in the third period for a 6-2 route at the hands of the Flyers. Six unanswered goals gave Philadelphia its highest production of the season and Buffalo its worst loss since losing 5-1 to San Jose on October 18.
Emotions ran high as the sellout crowd celebrated Kyle Okposo’s 700th career game, and it didn’t take long for captain Jack Eichel to bury his third goal in two games, answering early season questions regarding his production. Eichel jetted through the neutral zone and put a laser in the top, far corner. He added his second of the afternoon minutes later, tipping the puck past Anthony Stolarz at 12:02.
The Flyers were outmatched until that point, but regained some momentum 50 seconds later when James van Riemsdyk scored his second of the season. Claude Giroux picked up the assist. The first period would end 2-1 in Buffalo’s favor.
The first five minutes of the second period was an indistinct tet-a-tet. Buffalo’s best opportunities in the early going came on an extended possession, and Stolarz made a great save on Eichel, recovered, and sprawled to stop Okposo from scoring.
Buffalo netminder Linus Ullmark gave fans a reason to come to their feet, robbing the Jakub Voracek of an equalizer while Philadelphia was on the power play. As the advantage expired, however, Ullmark succumbed to the pressure and the Flyers tied the game at two, with 9:50 remaining in the period. The goal sparked a shift in momentum that saw Philadelphia begin to pour it on. They finished the period outshooting Buffalo 14-9 and took the lead in shots for the game, as well.
Ullmark flashing the leather! pic.twitter.com/CkjB9gTqvJ— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 8, 2018
The spirited end to the second carried into the third. Some stick work in front of the net gave Buffalo’s woeful power play its first chance of the night. Unfortunately, the Flyers chipped the puck up ice and entered the Buffalo zone 3-on-1. Giroux scored his first of the night on a shot that beat Ullmark that was a resounding answer to the EIchel goal that opened the scoring. Philadelphia took the 3-2 lead and never looked back.
Sloppy play down low gave the Flyers their fourth, fifth, and sixth goals of the afternoon. It was a revealing deflation for a team that had points in 11 of its last 12 games. Throughout the streak Buffalo’s weaknesses were slowly becoming more evident and this afternoon, they all came together in an epic meltdown.
Expectations were high facing coming into the matchup. The Flyers are clawing out of the basement, and the Sabres have been consistently hanging with the top teams. The disappointing result came on three days rest. The club will have another three days off before firing things up when the LA Kings come to town on Tuesday.
Final: Flyers 6, Sabres 2
Shots on goal: Flyers 41 | Sabres 30
Sabres goals: Jack Eichel (2)
Flyers goals: James van Riemsdyk (1), Ivan Provorov (1), Claude Giroux (1), Wayne Simmonds (1), Dale Weiss (1), Travis Konecny (1)
Three stars of the game
- Claude Giroux (1 goal, 3 assists)
- James van Riemsdyk (1 goal, 1 assist)
- Jack Eichel (2 goals)