Nothing could be more Philadelphia Flyers than roping us back in right after spending a month giving us reasons to look away. And surely enough, they’re roping us back in now.
Travis Sanheim scored his first career NHL goal, Valtteri Filppula tallied the game-winner late in the second, Brian Elliott stopped every shot that he was actually in net for (all but one of them, in other words), and the Flyers tallied their fifth straight victory with a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Relive the magic with us below, minute-by-minute.
6:52 p.m.: The last time (and only time in 2016-17) that these two teams played in the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to win in a shootout. Travis Konecny scored his first NHL goal. Things got wild. The Sabres, somehow, appear to have gotten worse since that game, so let’s not make this one as interesting as that one was, mmkay?
7:00 p.m.: The Giroux/Couturier line and Provorov/MacDonald pair will start out the game tonight against Jack Eichel’s line.
7:08 p.m.: And we’re underway. As they like to say in hockey ... let’s do that hockey.
7:11 p.m.: Oops. Brian Elliott tries to send the puck around the glass from behind the net, but NHL All-Star Zemgus Girgensons blocks that attempt, centers it out in front before Elliott can get back, and Ryan O’Reilly swats it into the empty net before a Flyer can get to him. That’s just how you want to start against a team like this. 1-0 Other Guys.
7:13 p.m.: And now Eichel rings one off the iron near the right corner. Sabres have controlled things since scoring that goal. Not great!
7:14 p.m.: Cripes. Elliott loses the puck behind the net AGAIN, and fortunately Nolan Patrick is there to cover him at the netmouth this time. Maybe just...hang out where you are, Brian?
7:15 p.m: WE GOT A FIRST NHL GOAL AS TRAVIS SANHEIM EVENS IT UP AT 1 LET’S GOOOOOO
7:16 p.m.: This time, it’s Buffalo whose goalie is irresponsibly playing with the puck behind his net. Dale Weise (Dale Weise!) is back there to force the issue, and then Jordan Weal strips the puck along the boards to get it back to Weise. From there, Weise finds Sanheim, and Sanheim finds the net on the blocker side. I’m a fan.
7:17 p.m.: “Tonight’s key to success: Do not lose to the Buffalo Sabres.” Thanks for that, Chris Therien.
7:24 p.m.: Things have slowed down a bit since those two early goals.
7:29 p.m.: And we’ve got our first power play of the night as Valtteri Filppula is tripped by Kyle Okposo (in the Flyers’ own zone!) shortly after the post-commercial faceoff. Flyers have a good chance to take the early lead here in a game that’s been pretty slow for them, save one shift.
7:31 p.m.: Yikes. Turnover turns into a shorthanded 2-on-1 for Buffalo, and luckily Johan Larsson can’t handle a cross-ice pass from Ryan O’Reilly. Let’s knock this off.
7:32 p.m.: Power play has come and gone without a goal. A couple of nice looks for the second unit — Patrick makes a couple of nice passes to set those up.
7:36 p.m.: Less-than-ideal defensive shift there for the Flyers as a Sanheim turnover leads to another 2-on-1 for Buffalo.
7:41 p.m.: Ghost takes what appears to be a hit he wasn’t expecting (far away from the puck, by the way) and heads off the ice and into the locker room a bit early. Uh oh.
7:44 p.m.: That’s the end of a first period that saw the Flyers do far too much defending and not enough attacking. Fairly underwhelming opening against one of the worst teams in hockey. But we’re still knotted up thanks to Travis Sanheim’s first NHL goal. Not everything is bad!
7:55 p.m.: Shot attempts in the first period (at 5-on-5) were 18-11 Sabres. Though, as our omnipresent Twitter account points out, most of that gap is due to a ghastly start by the Filppula line which was so good during the Canada road trip:
28 (62.5 CF%) - 14 (62.5) - 17 (55.56)— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 15, 2017
12 (10) - 51 (10) - 93 (9.09)
40 (50) - 19 (50) - 22 (50)
11 (60) - 21 (42.86) - 20 (42.86)
8:03 p.m.: We are underway in the second period, which ideally will be better than the first one. Nice shift to start the frame, led by Simmonds.
8:05 p.m.: And the Sabres, intent on helping the Flyers, take their second offensive zone penalty of the evening. Evan Rodrigues trips Nolan Patrick in front of Patrick’s own net, and the Flyers will have another shot at taking the lead.
8:07 p.m.: After a reasonably productive-if-goalless power play for the most part, the Flyers give up another shorthanded rush after Provorov loses his stick. Elliott is there to shut it down, and the penalty expires shortly thereafter.
8:08 p.m.: Ghost is back on the ice this period, by the way. Presumably, this would indicate that the hit he took last period was nothing serious.
8:15 p.m.: Second period kind of playing out like the opposite of the first period. Neither team looks great, but the Flyers are clearly getting the better of the run of play since coming back out of the locker room.
8:19 p.m.: Ooooooh, so close. After a long offensive shift for the Sabres, a heads-up play springs Raffl and Voracek on a 2-on-1, but Voracek’s chance in alone on Lehner is denied. Provorov then has a solid chance blocked shortly thereafter.
8:27 p.m.: Ghost has looked sharp tonight. Nice shift there — long pass to set up a Flyers cycle, then a big hit in the neutral zone.
8:28 p.m.: The Flyers got a 2-on-1! But it was Laughton and Weise. Laughton hung on to it and waited probably just a bit too long to try and get something going. We don’t blame you for that. Still no goals this period.
8:31 p.m.: AND WE GOT A GOAL. Filppula. 2-1.
8:33 p.m.: That was nice. That whole shift came after an icing faceoff. That line had just missed out on a goal about 15 seconds earlier, but a great keep-in and set of passes sent the puck ultimately from Voracek to Filppula, who sniped one up above Lehner’s left shoulder. Purrrrrty.
Filppula slams one home and the Flyers lead 2-1! pic.twitter.com/pRB97DOj84— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 15, 2017
8:36 p.m.: And the Flyers will end the period on the penalty kill, as our most recent goal-scorer heads off for holding. First PK of the game for the Flyers.
8:37 p.m.: One brief hectic moment for the Flyers doesn’t end up in a goal, and the Flyers will take their 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Much better second period for the dudes in orange.
8:49 p.m.: Flyers out-attempted the Sabres 22-8 in that period and are now comfortably leading in that measure for the game. That seems more along the lines of what we were expecting tonight.
8:55 p.m.: Third and final period is underway as Buffalo will try to even things up on the power play. Hopefully they will not do that!
8:57 p.m.: They did not do that! Very aggressive penalty killing by the Flyers shuts things down and we’re back at evens.
9:02 p.m.: Things are happening! Travis Konecny barrels through Sam Reinhart in front of the net as he’s trying to shoot. Then, as everyone else is kind of just standing around staring at Reinhart on the ice, the puck gets passed out to Evander Kane at the far-side post, but Elliott gets over in time to make an outstanding save. And then people start punching each other, because of course. On replay, I see why the Sabres took exception there — the hit from Konecny appeared to be clean, but he then falls back into Travis Sanheim, who kind of sandwiches him. Looked uncomfortable. Play on, though.
9:10 p.m.: Sabres come dangerously close to tying the game (they shouldn’t have, as Michael Raffl was hauled down in front of the Buffalo net about 10 seconds prior, but so it goes). A long shot from Girgensons bounces off of Provorov’s stick and hits Elliott in the mask, and Marco Scandella is right there charging the net, but he can’t tip it in. Sabres are threatening after a slow start to the period.
9:12 p.m.: Flyers answer right back with a 2-on-1 chance, but Simmonds doesn’t make the pass to Giroux and only gets off a shot that Lehner is there to easily corral.
9:19 p.m.: Third period for the most part has been pretty slow. Sabres probably getting the better of the action, though.
9:22 p.m.: Flyers are getting a little sloppy here. Defensive zone turnover from Provorov ends up turning into a bit more attack time for the Sabres. If you’re gonna turtle, do it right.
9:28 p.m.: Couturier line has a 3-on-1 with 2:30 left but they get two feeble attempts off. Lehner comes off as the Sabres take the puck up-ice.
9:30 p.m.: Some reasonably good chances for the Sabres, but nothing makes it in, and Buffalo will call timeout with 39 seconds left. Nice work by Giroux earlier in that shift to chase a puck down to the Buffalo end and force them to waste some more time getting the puck out of danger.
9:32 p.m.: And that’ll do it! Some great work by Couturier to send the puck out of the zone multiple times in the final seconds, and the Flyers win a game that they had no business losing by a score of 2-1. Their fifth straight win — and, as the broadcast is kind enough to point out, their fifth straight regulation win, which they haven’t done since November of 2010. That’s crazy. And they’ll get a chance to make it six on Saturday against Dallas. (Dallas sucks.) Go Flyers.