Girgensons OT tally leads Sabres over Flyers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Sabres quickly turned their disappointment around.
Zemgus Girgensons scored on a breakaway with 2:31 left in overtime to lift Buffalo to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Jake McCabe, Tyler Ennis and Jamie McGinn also scored for Buffalo, which snapped a two-game skid while winning for the first time on the road in its third try.
”The whole team gave it their all,” Girgensons said. ”It would’ve been better if we didn’t go to that overtime, but it’s good to get that win. It just shows the character we have and the ability to win.”
Brayden Schenn had two goals and Chris VandeVelde also scored for Philadelphia.
”Buffalo moved the puck and spread things out really well and we couldn’t sustain anything from one shift to the next on a consistent basis,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said.
It looked as if Buffalo was going to win it in regulation, but Schenn netted his second goal of the game with 53.2 seconds left in the third period to force overtime. With goalie Steve Mason out in favor of an extra attacker, Claude Giroux sent a wrist shot toward the goal. Schenn deflected it off goalie Chad Johnson and over his right shoulder.
”I was disappointed at that point,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.
But Girgensons erased the disappointment. After the Flyers turned it over in their end, Carlo Colaiacovo sent a long pass to a wide-open Girgensons, who beat Mason through the five-hole.
”When he got the puck, I started walking up the bench. He’s going to find it and he did,” Bylsma said.
It was the third win in nine games for the young Sabres, who finished with a league-worst 54 points last season.
”We’re learning how to win as a group,” Bylsma, their first-year coach, said. ”We’re developing a team and how we want to play.”
Buffalo played its first game without top-line winger Evander Kane, who will miss 4-to-6 weeks after injuring his left knee in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Devils.
Michael Raffl returned to the ice for Philadelphia. He was accidentally struck in the head by the Rangers’ Jarret Stoll on Saturday night, felt dizzy and then collapsed on the Flyers bench.
McCabe snapped a 2-all deadlock when his wrist shot from the point went through traffic and got past Mason’s left pad with 10 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third period.
The Flyers had tied the game just over one minute earlier when Schenn tapped home Scott Laughton’s cross-ice pass from just in front of the crease with 11:46 to play.
Ennis put Buffalo on the scoreboard with a highlight-reel goal 6 1/2 minutes into the contest. From behind the net, Ennis first deked around Giroux and, while falling to his knees, reached around the net and caromed a backhand shot off Mason’s left pad and into the net.
The Sabres went in front 2-0 on McGinn’s power-play tally with 9:21 left in the first. Brian Gionta passed from center ice to the left wall to Johan Larsson, who fired the puck to the front of the crease where McGinn tapped it home.
It was McGinn’s first goal since last Nov. 4.
”It was a long time coming and hopefully there are more good things to come,” he said.
Schenn said the Flyers have to play with more of a sense of urgency from the start.
”It’s never fun to play from behind,” he said. ”We have to play better and put our foot on the gas pedal a little bit. Goalies are too good, teams are too good, to always try to come back. So it’s something we have to change.”
Buffalo appeared to take a three-goal lead two minutes later, but Marcus Foligno’s apparent goal was disallowed because a replay review confirmed the officials’ ruling on the ice that Foligno kicked the puck past Mason.
Philadelphia got on the board with 5:40 left in the period when VandeVelde fired a wrister past Johnson’s glove side from the slot.
Notes: Philadelphia honored retired former Flyers standout Danny Briere in a pregame ceremony. … Tuesday was the first of three meetings this season between the teams, who will play next on Friday night in Buffalo. … Pierre-Edouard Bellemare suffered a lower body injury with 5:52 remaining in the first period and didn’t return.