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

edge.

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

go.

“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

seven starts.

“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

way.”

Philadelphia squandered an opportunity to move within four

points of Buffalo, which entered the game in fifth place in the

Eastern Conference.

“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.