And it’s Friday night hockey! Were you watching? Do you have a life? Is your life watching hockey? I know mine is. So I’m here to recap tonight’s action for you.
The Flyers kicked things off with some speed, nearly immediately swinging the puck around into the Sabres’ zone, on just the first shift. But the Sabres brought the first shot on the next shift. But it wasn’t a particularly dangerous, one, as it was blocked easily by Hagg and sent out of play.
But this would give the Sabres an offensive zone faceoff and a chance to generate some sustained pressure in the zone. A handful of shots and some effective blocking later, this pressure was managed, and both teams went off on a change.
The SEPTA key to success, courtesy of Chris Therien? Don’t do the thing you did at the start of last game. Don’t sit back on your heels. And oh, will you look at that. The game’s back on and they’re doing just that.
The Flyers swung back into the offensive zone and looked for a moment like they might turn things around. But a Hagg turnover let Kane spring from the zone on a breakaway, to be ultimately interfered with and draw a penalty shot.
And we were nervous as hell. After a bit of delay, Kane flew in on goal, went high glove, but Elliott had the answer. And still we were scoreless.
But the Flyers would go back on the attack from there, with the fourth line (I refused to call them the Honey Bees in the absence of Taylor Leier) kicking things off. Shuffling the puck around the zone and dipping low around the crease, they were able to generate some near chances, but no results. But it was the start to a collection of shifts settled in the offensive zone. So things were good for a bit there.
But that good thing was broken. And then Hagg took a hooking penalty at the 11:01 mark, and the Flyers had to go on their first penalty kill of the night.
After a bit of cycling by the Sabres, Filppula and Raffl were spring on a breakout and brought a near-goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Sabres would swing the puck back into the zone and start chipping again, leaving Elliott to make a beautiful save on Eichel’s stick side attempt. And it took just two more clears to kill off the penalty, and two more clears were had.
And on the next shift, more of Michael Raffl! Another shot and another close chance! Robbed twice and the game’s only just begun.
The game swung into a bit more back and fo-- OH MY GOD WHAT WAS THAT. IT WAS A WOO. A WOO IN BUFFALO. OH MY GOD
As I was saying, from here it was more back and forth. Both the Flyers and Sabres would pull play back into their respective offensive zone and move the puck around, generate a chance or two, before the play was broken up and sent moving in the opposite direction.
And we should extend a nod to Konecny, who was taken down along the boards in the offensive zone and was slow to get up, reaching for his face. But instead of heading off to the bench, he sped into the defensive zone where the Sabres were working to get a play going. But that play was broken up, and it was Konecny who shot into the zone on a breakaway. But, as the story of the period has gone, it was a good look, but he couldn’t capitalize.
The rest of the period was more of the same. More pressure from both sides. A few more shots. No goals. The buzzer sounds. Maybe the Flyers will do something next period.
AFTER ONE: Flyers 0, Sabres 0. Shots 16-11 in favor of Buffalo
It was not a good start to the period for the Flyers. The puck was sent into the Flyers’ zone off the opening faceoff, and the Sabres went to work. With more scrambling, the rush was ended by Elliott making yet another excellent save. Turned sideways and spinning, he somehow stopped the puck with his pad, before smothering it.
And man oh man, the Flyers could not seem to get the puck out of their own zone. It wouldn’t be until well into the third minute of the period that the Flyers were able to get even a taste of extended pressure in the offensive zone. They spent the next minute cycling the puck around the zone, but generating pressure between different lines. This push would only be broken up by Hagg drawing a hooking penalty on Kane, and the Flyers were off to their first power play attempt of the evening.
It was the second unit that got the start and kicked things off, getting a nice bit of puck movement, but no results. And it was more of the tsame from the first unit who, while able to generate some shots and good looks, couldn’t get it done. And it was back to five on five.
And things got so bad from there! The Sabres immediately got to work in the Flyers’ zone, and Elliott had to make not one or two but four saves on that shift in quick succession before the puck was iced and they got a bit of a breather.
Yo, Brian Elliott pic.twitter.com/v8B7gMTmpx— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 23, 2017
But the Flyers would get another power play chance! After Couturier, on a breakaway drew a holding penalty, the Flyers were back at it on the man advantage.
So, good things are coming, right? Well, not exactly. With even less pressure brought on this one, the Sabres were able to collect the puck and keep it cleared with relative ease.
And what a surprise! From there we spent more time in the Flyers’ offensive zone. The fourth line was able to spring the puck from the zone, while Laughton drove in on goal for a chance, but was dumped, and back the Sabres went into their own offensive zone.
With little happening, Hakstol opted to shuffle the lines a bit, hoping to spark something. In the spirit of the season, the Gingerbeard Line was reassembled, to frontload their biggest weapons. But oh, oh, would you look at that. Simmonds is back with Giroux and Couturier. Well, it was nice while it lasted.
AND THE KIDS WITH A GREAT PLAY. Patrick broke out of the zone and flew right in on Lehner. He tried to go five hole, and was blocked, but Sanheim was right there to collect the rebound. The puck was spinning too much to control, and the puck just missed the net. But, boy, was that a pretty chance.
Nolan Patrick with an amazing scoring chance, the hands on this guy are pretty darn good! pic.twitter.com/we052fuPvi— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 23, 2017
And it did well to spark something for the Flyers. On the next shift, Travis to Travis, Sanheim was able to get another good shot on goal.
Inside the last two minutes of the period, the Flyers would get into trouble again, as the Sabres once again got them hemmed into the defensive zone. A long shift left them tired and scrambling, but Elliott came up big for them, as he had all night.
AFTER TWO: Flyers 0, Sabres 0.
Were you expecting something new and fresh from the third period? The Flyers would storm out of the tunnel and just absolutely dominate? The light in our eyes would return? Yeah, no. The Flyers were promptly hemmed back into their own zone.
And the hits kept on coming. The Sabres opened up scoring early in the third after a familiar bit of sustained pressure in the zone. Cycling, O’Reilly dipped below the red line and banked the puck in off Elliott who let it leak in.
But the Flyers would get a chance to tie things up, as Voracek drew a holding call on Reinhart. The Flyers went to work moving the puck around the zone, but couldn’t seem to get much going.
But another gift! With 41 seconds left on the power play, the Sabres took a delay of game penalty and sent the Flyers on the 5 on 3. They went passive on that shift, and couldn’t get it done. And with Buffalo back on the 4 on 5 kill, they were able to manage the Flyers well. No goal. Penalty killed. Things are still bad, and getting worse.
After a hot second at even strength, Laughton took a high sticking penalty, and the Flyers were down a man. But the start of the penalty kill didn’t look too bad. Simmonds and Couturier were able to spring out of the zone for a breakout, but their shot was denied. From there they moved back into the defensive zone. The Sabres got moving, but couldn’t convert. They nearly did, after a MacDonald turnover right in front of the net, but the Flyers were able to get possession back, and kill off the rest of the penalty.
Oh, but you think the Sabres need a power play to score another goal? You’d be wrong. Just after the penalty expired, the Sabres got set up again in their offensive zone, and, with a blast from the blue line tipped in by Kane, Buffalo extended their lead to two.
But we saw the Flyers getting a bit more aggressive, from there. They were able to generate some extended pressure of their own, and brought a few good looks, before drawing yet another penalty, this time a “closing the hand around the puck” delay of game.
The second unit again got the start, working to get something started. But the one man advantage wasn’t enough. With the power play ticking down to the last minute, the Flyers pulled Elliott for the two man advantage. And after a rough start, they were able to get some activity going in front of the net. And, picking up the rebound, Raffl drove it home.
And with just under two minutes left on the clock, the Flyers took the faceoff win and pulled Elliott again, to put them on the man advantage. But a lost faceoff would give the puck to Eichel, who sent it down for the empty netter.
And more activity! With a one time blast from Gostisbehere on a screened Lehner brought the game back within one, injecting some more life into the team and once again reminding us that even as things are bad, Gostisbehere is an absolute treasure.
But the joy was short lived. The Flyers pulled Elliott for the last shift and couldn’t keep the puck in play. Eichel picked it up for his second empty netter of the night with under a second left in regulation. And then it was all over.
That’s all she wrote. And that’s all we’ve got.
FINAL: Sabres 4, Flyers 2