Some points are better than others. For the Buffalo Sabres (14-11-2) they really needed that point on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (16-7-3). But in reality, they really needed an outright victory over the hated Flyers. Once again, the Sabres came right out of the gate with an intensity rarely seen this season. And for the first 19 minutes and 59 seconds of the first period, it was all going according to plan.
We all knew that the Sabres had to start fast against the Flyers. After a scoreless ten minutes, Ville Leino took advantage of his former team to put the Sabres up 1-0 on a power play goal assisted by Luke Adam and rookie Zack Kassian. And Kassain wasn’t done yet. With just over a minute remaining in the first period, Kassain netted his third career goal on a feed from Andrej Sekera. But wait, there’s still more.
Less than a minute after Kassain’s goal Andrej Meszaros was hit with a two Minute penalty for tripping. Less than ten seconds later, Thomas Vanek scored the Sabres second power play goal of the period (from Derek Roy and Jason Pominville) to put the Sabres up 3-0 with 23 seconds remaining in the first period.
If you’re really a Sabres fan, you know what happens next. The Sabres have been among the worst teams in the league for years in terms of giving up goals with little-to-no time remaining in periods. Sure enough, the Sabres go to bed for a few seconds and Maxime Talbot scores with one second remaining in the first to put the Flyers on the board.
So if that’s how the first period ended, you can imagine how the second period went. Matt Read, Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr all scored in the second period to put the Flyers up 4-3 headed into the final period of regulation. To the Sabres credit, they regrouped after the disastrous second period and came out strong in third.
The third period was the most hard-fought and closest period of the contest. There were only 11 shots taken in the third period (Flyers 6, Sabres 5) and there were also no penalties. Buffalo stuck around and Drew Stafford scored with less than two minutes remaining to tie the contest and 4-4.
So the Sabres deserved that one point. But their effort in overtime dictated that it would be the only point they would win. Midway through the overtime period, the Sabres turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and it ended up on the stick of Claude Giroux. Giroux walked into the Sabres zone and beat Ryan Miller for his 16th goal of the season.
You had the good and the bad for the Sabres in this game. They came out strong. But they blew a three goal lead. They fought hard to force overtime. Then had nothing left for the extra frame. But they got a point. And it wasn’t a straight up loss at home. Progress is progress, no matter how incremental.
Ryan Miller seemed comfortable in goal for Buffalo. Although not his best performance, he stopped 29 of the 34 shots he faced and the game-winning goal by Giroux was really not his fault. Paul Gaustad missed the game for Buffalo and it unknown when he will return. Nathan Gerbe was forced from the game in the second period and did not return. His status is unknown with what is being deemed as a possible head injury.
The Sabres are back in action Friday night when they face the Florida Panthers in Buffalo.