Sabres 3, Flyers 2, OT
Adam Mair was glad to help Tim Connolly gain some redemption
from an earlier gaffe.
Mair sent the game into overtime just under 3 minutes after
Connolly’s costly turnover ended up in Buffalo’s net, and Connolly
scored at 2:31 of overtime in Buffalo’s 3-2 victory over the
Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night.
Connolly eventually was able to make for his error that occurred
with just under 9 minutes to go in the third when his errant pass
at the Buffalo blue line was picked off by Philadelphia captain
Mike Richards. Richards skated in alone on goalie Ryan Miller, and
lifted a backhander in after a nifty deke to give the Flyers a 2-1
Connolly, though, gave the Sabres the bonus point in overtime
when he put home a rebound from in tight off Toni Lydman’s shot
from the left circle.
“It was tough but when I got back to the bench, a lot of the
guys told me not to worry about it, go out there and we’ll get one
back,” Connolly said. “Mair was able to get one back quick, and
that gives you a little boost.”
Mair became the unlikely offensive hero for the Sabres
(34-20-9), who came in having scored two or fewer goals in nine of
their last 13 games. Cruising into the right circle, Mair accepted
a pass from Mike Grier before skating across the ice and into the
slot, and sent a backhander past goalie Michael Leighton for only
his third goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2 with 5:58 to
“It’s rebounding from your mistakes, and Tim makes very few of
them on the ice,” said Mair, who also added an assist on Thomas
Vanek’s second-period goal. “He was able to win the game for us,
and that just speaks to his compete and mental ability to put
things behind him and look forward.”
The win was much-needed for a slumping Sabres team that
leapfrogged over idle Ottawa and back into first place in the
Northeast Division. Buffalo leads the Senators by a point, with two
games in hand.
“If we keep playing like that, we’re going to have some leads
and we’re going to be back to the way we need to be playing,” said
Miller, who finished with 27 saves for a Sabres team that won for
only the second time in their last 10 games.
Simon Gagne also scored for the Flyers (33-26-4), who’ve lost
two straight after stringing together five wins in a row. Leighton
finished with 32 saves, but lost for the first time in his last
“It was a great game,” Leighton said. “It was back and forth,
and kind of like a chess game, waiting for someone to make a
mistake. We could have won this game, but it didn’t bounce our
Philadelphia squandered an opportunity to move within four
points of Buffalo, which entered the game in fifth place in the
“You’re up 2-1 with 5 minutes to go, you need to win that
game,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Michael Leighton did
a real good job and gave us an opportunity to win, but it’s
frustrating. Points are a hot commodity right now.”
The Flyers struck first when Gagne scored his 10th of the year 4
minutes into the second period. From in tight, Gagne was able to
slip the puck past Miller off a feed from defenseman Lukas Krajicek
from the left boards.
Vanek tied it 2:13 later with his team-leading 19th of the
season. From the left corner behind the goal line, Vanek was able
to bank a shot off Leighton’s blocker and in.
NOTES: Lindy Ruff coached in his 965th career game with the
Sabres, moving ahead of Jack Adams (Detroit) for third on the NHL
list for games coached with one franchise. … Sabres RW Drew
Stafford missed the final two periods because of a groin injury.
… LW Raffi Torres played in his first game with the Sabres after
being acquired at the trade deadline on Wednesday, and assisted on
Connolly’s winner. … Vanek’s goal gave him 300 career NHL points.
… Flyers C Jeff Carter played in his 277th straight NHL game,
surpassing Bobby Clarke for the franchise’s third-longest ironman
streak. He also had his six-game goal scoring streak snapped.