One night after getting embarrassed at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated Buffalo by a 3-0 score in a return match at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. By leaps and bounds, this was a better performance from the Flyers than Monday's game: more physical, better with the puck, and better defensively. The goaltending took care of the rest.
Travis Konecny (4th goal of the season) broke a scoreless deadlock on a breakaway late in the second period. Jakub Voracek (1st) added some insurance on a 2-on-1 goal in the latter half of the third period, and Kevin Hayes (2nd) tacked on an empty net goal.
Brian Elliott came up big in net whenever the Flyers needed him, including during an early-game two-man disadvantage to earn a 40-save shutout. It was his 41st career NHL shutout, and fifth as a Flyer.
Carter Hutton had to leave after the second period. He stopped 20 of 21 shots while he was in net. Jonas Johansson finished up the game. Johansson made eight saves on nine shots.
The Flyers lost Phil Myers in the first period to an upper-body injury on a hit by Jake McCabe that looked similar to the play in which Sean Couturier was hit by Pittsburgh's Jared McCann in the second game of the season. In the second period, Morgan Frost had to leave the game with an upper-body injury after getting hit behind the Buffalo net. It looked like he injured his wrist or arm. Both players underwent MRIs. More will be known on Wednesday.
Vigneault started the game with changes on three of the four forward lines at five-on-five and all three defensive pairs compared to the combinations that started the game on Monday. The same D pairs were featured in the third period on Monday but all but the fourth forward line had a different look. Also both power play units were changed up.
The first period was better than any of the three periods the Flyers played on Monday. They defended better, were much more physical and were a little cleaner with the puck. There weren't many high-grade scoring chances, but it was an overall improvement. Killing off an early 5-on-3 disadvantage was a boost, including a big save by Elliott off a snap shot by Taylor Hall at the left hash marks.
Later, Elliott made back-to-back strong saves on Rasmus Asplund and Jeff Skinner to keep the game scoreless. First period shots were 11-11. The Flyers blocked six shots (including a possible goal-saver by Provorov) and outhit the Sabres by an 11-3 margin.
The Flyers had a very strong first 10 minutes of the second period, both offensively and defensively. Most notably, a give-and-go play with Frost and Braun produced a rebound that van Riemsdyk wasn't able to pot.
The Sabres began to assert themselves over the middle stages of the second period. Olofsson hit a post (2nd post for the Sabres in the game). The Flyers got through their third PK of the game, but the Sabres continued to push after its expiration. About three-quarters of the way through the period, Frost (who was having a strong game and creating chances) took a hit behind the Sabres net and went off in a lot of pain with an apparent upper-body injury.
At 17:51 of the second period, Konecny snapped the scoreless deadlock. Patrick made an initial play in the defensive zone, and Konecny turned on the speed to catch up to a a long bank pass by Lindblom. Soloing against Hutton, Konecny slid the puck through the five-hole on the backhand.
Elliott made 15 saves in the third period. At 13:43, Gustafsson sprang Hayes and Voracek on a 2-on-1. Voracek received the cross-ice pass and beat Johansson to the short side before the goalie could quite close up the angle. Hayes added a late-game, long distance empty netter to seal the victory.
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The Flyers (3-1-0) will have a day off on Wednesday. That will be followed by two games in Boston (Thursday and Saturday), two in New Jersey (Tue. Jan 26 and Thu. Jan 28). The Flyers will return home for back-to-back games against the New York Islanders on Sat. Jan 30 and Sun. Jan. 31.