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Flyers vs Sabres recap: A stupid game with a very happy outcome

A trio of power play goals in the third sends the Flyers to the shootout, ultimately getting a win against the Buffalo Sabres in a stupidly exciting game.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not going to mince words here: the Flyers game against the Buffalo Sabres was incredibly stupid. But after coming back from a three goal deficit, the Flyers were able to eventually notch a win in the shootout. And that’s pretty neat!

We all know it’s pretty early in the season, but let’s face it: the Buffalo Sabres are a bad hockey team. We all knew this before they even took the ice and with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane both out due to injury, no one is expecting anything other than a total dogshit season from them. At the start of the evening, they sat at the very bottom of the Atlantic Division standings, which was a nice thing to see after the Flyers got hosed by the Montreal Canadiens last night.

So with that as the backdrop to this game, I was expecting the Flyers to blow the doors off in the first period. I thought they would take the narrative that they can’t get going early on, smother it with a pillow, and drag it out to the woods to decompose. What we got was...uh....evenly matched hockey?

Both teams looked like they were good I guess, but neither was able to get anything on the board. The closest the Flyers got to scoring was a Matt Read scoring chance and a Chris VandeVelde/Pierre-Edouard Bellemare odd man rush, which, lol nope. All in all, pretty uneventful hockey, even if the Flyers didn’t start off as bad as they have in earlier games this season.

I will note, however, that Travis Konecny looked like a freaking stud in the first period. It felt like every time the Flyers entered the offensive zone and got a shot off, it was directly because of Konecny’s work. What I saw with my eyes was confirmed by definitely-not-a-caveman Jeremy Roenick — who is always right in his analysis — during the intermission report.

All those meh feelings about this game were quickly washed away when the Sabres scored off a Tyler Ennis deflection about two minutes into the second. I initially thought it was a bad angle shot by Zemgus Girgensons and I was all kinds of mad at Michal Neuvirth, but with it being a deflection, it was pretty much an impossible save to make.

And it just all went downhill from there. Just minutes after the first goal, Matt Moulson put the Sabres up by two on the power play. At this point, I got up from my couch and got myself some ice cream because I deserved it, to be honest. I thought things might turn around when the Flyers got their first man advantage of the night at about the halfway point, but alas, my consumption of high fat dairy products to rally the team proved to be fruitless.

Oh and then Moulson scored again on a power play later in the period. Dave Hakstol kind of inexplicably challenged that goal, thinking that some non-existent goaltender interference had happened. Of course, with the interference being non-existent, the goal stood. And that was the last we saw of Michael Neuvirth for the evening. Just a very very nasty period for the Flyers.

OK, OK, so the Flyers took a poop on the ice in the second. Maybe they could turn this thing around in the third, and it sure looked like could have been possible early on when VandeVelde drew a penalty. And hey! The Flyers ended up scoring! And it was Travis Konecny’s first NHL goal! At this point I was thinking the following: wow!

Up to this point in this recap, you’ve probably been sad, so let’s take a moment and watch this bad boy on repeat:

Now that you are good and happy, I have some even better news: later in the period, Brayden Schenn scored on the power play to bring the Flyers closer to tying the game. And then almost immediately after with just two minutes left in the game, the Sabres took another penalty.

COULD THE FLYERS TIE THIS THING AND TAKE IT TO OVERTIME? DO DREAMS ACTUALLY COME TRUE?

THEY DO!

After a big mess of a scramble in front of the net (seriously, take a look at the video below), Mark Streit was able to tie up the game. Dan Bylsma ended up challenging the goal because, well, it was a goddamn mess. But Bylsma is a big dummy and the goal ended up standing.

And so the game went to overtime. And the Flyers looked pretty damn good — they established some pretty sustained offensive zone presence and sure looked like they were going to end up converting at least a few times. Hell, Voracek was even able to go against Nilsson one-on one towards the end of the frame. But sometimes things just don’t end up working out, and thus the game went to a shootout.

And hey! The Flyers won! With shootout goals from Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek! Good stuff!

Here are some bonus words from me, the person who wrote this post:

  • Radko Gudas returned tonight after being suspended for the 69th time in his NHL career. His addition back in the lineup brought some good news in Nick Schultz being scratched, even if Andrew MacDonald (who is indistinguishable from a long turd snaking down the the drain of a toilet) probably should have been the one to take a seat. I’ll save the #analysis on how Gudas did for Charlie’s observations, as he is much smarter than I am.
  • The other lineup related news tonight was a shakeup in the forward lines, with Matt Read getting bumped up to the top line and Brayden Schenn getting demoted to the third. Brayden Schenn had looked pretty damn bad since getting back, and Matt Read has looked pretty damn good, so you gotta think this move was a no brainer for Dave Hakstol. It sure as hell looked like it was the right decision early on, with Matt Read coming ever so close to scoring on a partial breakaway* in the middle of the first period. (*partial breakaway and its derivative “partial BA” are registered trademarks of Sam J. Carchidi)
  • Late in the third period, noted Bad Person Dimitri Kulikov leveled a nasty hit against Jake Voracek. It sure looked like the principal point of contact was Voracek’s head (especially given that his damn helmet flew off his head), but Kulikov was only charged with two minutes for charging. Jake ended up returning to the game a few minutes later, so let’s just hope he’s OK.
  • Without a doubt, the best looking play tonight came from the second line of Konecny, Jake Voracek, and Sean Couturier. I mentioned above how dominant Konecny looked, but that whole line really is something else. Even though they weren’t able to convert tonight, they’ve looked great all season, and tonight was no exception.
  • Maybe I’m tripping here, but it sure seemed like the bulk of shots the Flyers took were from the blue line tonight. I’m not sure if that’s something we should be particularly worried about, but I did find the inability to set up better chances against an abysmal Sabres defense a little unsettling.
  • When Michal Neuvirth got the nod for the Flyers’ season opener against the LA Kings, there was a lot of chatter about a goalie controversy. Well, tonight the folks over at Comcast SportsNet decided to add some gasoline to that fire, informing the fans that Steve Mason had been traded to the Sabres and renamed Anders Nilsson, while the Flyers picked up Carey Price and renamed him Michal Neuvirth. If that makes no sense, you’re right on track.
  • Another dumb thing that happened today was this:

Now, I know there have been a lot of opinions about the 50th anniversary jerseys and the use of gold, so I won’t go into much detail here. But, uhh, the use of black, white, and gold here sure reminds me a one hockey team from Pennsylvania, and it sure isn’t the Flyers.

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