BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Ryan O’Reilly and the Buffalo Sabres are showing signs of how much they’ve improved over a few short months.
After a blowing a 3-0 third-period lead in a 4-3 shootout loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 25, the Sabres made a collective push to make this one stand up in a 4-1 win over the Flyers on Tuesday night.
”I think we’re all reminded of that game. That was a big turning point,” said O’Reilly, who had two assists. ”It’s been a while since we’ve had that feeling where you’re in your last 10 minutes and you kind of know you’ve out-worked this team and you’re going to win.”
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Buffalo is suddenly on a roll by improving to 3-0-1 in its past four. It’s the Sabres’ best run of the season, and follows a 4-3 win over Winnipeg on Saturday, during which the Sabres overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit.
”We’re happy with where we’re at,” said Sam Reinhart, who had a goal and two assists. ”We know it’s a long road to get back to where we want to be. … Tonight was another step in the right direction.”
Evander Kane capped a three-goal second-period outburst, while William Carrier and Marcus Foligno, with an empty-netter, also scored.
Anders Nilsson stopped 39 shots and had his shutout bid foiled by Brayden Schenn’s power-play goal with 2:07 left. Nilsson started in place of Robin Lehner, who was sidelined by an illness.
The Flyers are slumping in dropping to 2-6-3 in their past 11. It’s a stretch during which they’ve been outscored 33-18. The slump immediately followed a 10-game winning streak that ended with a 3-1 loss at Dallas on Dec. 17.
”I think we’ve just got to go back to working as a team,” captain Claude Giroux said. ”We’ve got to stay with it. We’ve got to keep our confidence high and keep battling.”
Steve Mason stopped 23 shots for the Flyers, who extended their road losing streak to 0-5-2 – their longest since an 0-5-4 skid from Feb. 24 to March 21, 2015. Philadelphia hasn’t won a road game since a 4-3 win at Colorado on Dec. 14.
The Sabres built a 2-0 lead 8:39 into the second period when Reinhart and Carrier scored in a span of 3:24.
Kane then deflated the Flyers’ hopes further by scoring with 9 seconds left by capitalizing on a turnover in Philadelphia’s zone.
Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian blocked a Flyers clearing attempt at the left point, and then fed a pass across to Reinhart. Driving up the right side, Reinhart’s shot was blocked by a Flyers defender, and the puck bounced into the high slot to Kane, who beat Mason just inside the left post.
”Not good hockey. We did it to ourselves,” Mason said. ”I think when we go back and look at the tape, it was a lot of what we did wrong in the second and not what they did to force it. It was all our own doing.”
Mason got little support.
Reinhart’s power-play goal came when he was set up alone at the left post by Rasmus Ristolainen’s hard-low pass from the right point. On Carrier’s goal, Mason stopped Taylor Fedun’s shot from the right point, but was late in getting into position to stop Carrier converting the rebound from the left circle.
Nilsson hasn’t forgotten what happened in the loss at Philadelphia in a game he allowed three goals on 41 shots.
”You know you can’t take anything for granted,” Nilsson said. ”We talked about it in the second intermission and said, `We can’t get back on our heels.”’
NOTES: Flyers RW Wayne Simmonds was named a first-time NHL All-Star game selection earlier in the day. GM Ron Hextall credited Simmonds’ perseverance by noting the player was not drafted in the first year he was eligible before being selected by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2007 draft. … Sabres C Jack Eichel played in his 100th career game. … The Sabres placed C Derek Grant on waivers to free up a roster spot in calling up G Linus Ullmark from AHL Rochester to fill in for Lehner.
Flyers: Host Vancouver on Thursday night.
Sabres: Open two-game road trip at Tampa Bay on Thursday.