Sabres-Flyers: The Buffalo Swagger Continues

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The stage was set. Buffalo versus Philladelphia. A chance for the Sabres to avenge the drubbing the Flyers put on them no more than a week earlier.

As the game was about to start, I still wondered if the Sabres could finally break that ugly habit of playing horrid on the back side of back to back games. It did not take me long to get my answer.

This was a war from the opening puck drop to the final horn. It had all the makings to set up the next two tilts these teams will have with each other this season. Scrappy play, bad blood, two goalies that will not back down,and two extremely talented teams looking to leave their respective marks on the Eastern conference. 

Thomas Vanek was the recipient of an early Flyer’s penalty, and a nice centering pass to get Buffalo off and running early. His wrister found it’s way past goaltender Ray Emery just over three minutes into the first period. Buffalo took the lead 1-0.

Though no goals were scored the rest of the period, it wasn’t for lack of effort. Both Emery and Ryan Miller made some great saves to keep their teams in the game early. In all six penalties were called in the first period with Philly receiving four of them. 

The second period started with Buffalo controlling play for a majority of the period. Both teams realized they were in for a full 60 minute game and decided maybe the second period was not an ideal time to leave their team short handed.

At almost the 15 minute mark of the second period, Tyler Ennis playing in his first NHL game for Buffalo netted his first career NHL goal to give Buffalo a semi-commanding 2-0 lead. The second period would end at that score, But Philly seemed to be finding their game late in the second. It only amped up the possibility of a great final period.

Just as I thought, Philly came out flying in the final frame. Buffalo was on their heels and holding on for dear life. Chris Pronger announced his presence on the score sheet early in the third when his slapper from the point blew by Miller to cut the lead in half.

But a costly high sticking penalty by former Buffalo Sabre Danny Briere opened the door for Buffalo to capitalize once more. And center Paul Gaustad made no mistake as he deflected a Tyler Myers shot from the point past Ray Emery to regain the two goal Buffalo lead.

Philly was down but certainly not out of it.

As, yet again, they showed just how dangerous they can be short handed as Jeff Carter cut back into that Buffalo lead by scoring his seventh of the season just over half way through the third.

The Flyers continued to pressure the Buffalo Sabres for ten more minutes. But Ryan Miller and company were up to the task. Buffalo grab the short plane ride back home with a narrow 3-2 win.

 

Thoughts and Observations

Thomas Vanek has been a penalty magnet as of late. He really needs to focus on the game, and stop taking lazy, undisciplined penalties.

Chris Pronger may be my favorite defense men in the NHL. It is amazing at his age How well he still does everything. Without question Philly’s best pick up in a long time.

Ray Emery has re-emerged as a top 15 goaltender in the NHL. It seems like decades ago now when he had his problems.

Buffalo’s power play continues to struggle. Lazy passes, poor shots from the point. Something really needs to be done.

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