Flyers-Sabres: Postgame Review
If you saw that Sean Couturier was out of the Flyers lineup and the Flyers fell behind 2-0 in the first 10 minutes of Saturday's game to the Sabres and wrote them off, you probably wouldn't be alone. The Flyers put themselves in an early hole again and were going to need to find a way out of it to start the road trip off on a good note.
The game turned in the second period as the Flyers applied more pressure and got the game tied. In the third, four more goals contributed to a big day on the scoresheet for the Orange and Black in a 6-2 win in Buffalo.
Let's break it down in our Postgame Review.
- Claude Giroux - With Couturier out of the lineup, Claude Giroux moved back to center for this game and it looked like it was a bit of an adjustment early. The Sabres were the better team in the first and showed it.
But as the game went on, Giroux took over. It started with a nice set play off a face-off and Giroux got the puck to James van Riemsdyk in the perfect spot for the first goal. In the third, Giroux added three more points, including a shorthanded goal that stood up as the game-winner.
Giroux now has 36 points in 27 games, continuing his torrid pace from a season ago. It's no question Giroux is the most valuable forward on this team. He's now tied for eighth in the league in points, pending the results of Saturday night's games. As Giroux goes, so do the Flyers, and the captain carried the Flyers in this one.
And smartly, knowing Giroux may be needed in the more intense center role for Sunday, Dave Hakstol didn't give Giroux a shift following the Flyers sixth goal, allowing him to rest for the remainder of the game.
- The Penalty Kill - The Flyers only had one penalty to kill off in this game, and got a shorthanded goal out of it. But lately, the penalty kill has been an improved area.
The Flyers have taken a more aggressive approach and it is paying off. While the Flyers played a more disciplined game -- though they certainly got a few calls in their favor -- they still had to fend off the Sabres power play. The Flyers have a nice streak of successful kills going, and while it's not always pretty, it's trending in the right direction.
Just how bad was the penalty kill before this recent stretch? The Flyers have killed off 15 straight penalties...and they still rank 30th in the NHL.
- Anthony Stolarz - Lost in all of the third period goal scoring was the performance of Anthony Stolarz. Give Stolarz a lot of credit, he's provided stability to the goaltending position that the Flyers have lacked all season.
Stolarz really deserves more credit in this game than he will get. He kept the Flyers in the game in the first period. A 2-1 margin made scoring the tying goal much more realistic. In reality, with the way the first period was for the Flyers, it should have been a 4-1 game.
The Flyers really helped on that front later in the game. Stolarz faced 17 shots in the first period, then just 13 shots in the final 40 minutes.
But for Stolarz, he nearly stole a win against Columbus on Thursday to follow up a great game in Pittsburgh last Saturday. Now he can add this one to his resume as well.
- The Third Period - You would be hard-pressed to find a better closeout period.
After giving up 17 shots in the first period, the Sabres were silenced for the rest of the game, getting just four shots in the third period. The Flyers brought the offense as well.
It started with Giroux's goal, a virtual carbon copy of his goal on Thursday on a two-on-one. In a span of 2:50, the Flyers added three more goals -- one off a fortunate bounce for Wayne Simmonds, a nice set-up from Michael Raffl for Dale Weise and finally a beautiful passing play finished off by Travis Konecny.
Instead of having to make Giroux's shorthanded goal stand up, the Flyers applied more than enough insurance in less than three minutes. That's how you close out a game. Not only did they win the final period, they never took the foot off the gas.
- Quick Turnaround - Scoring six goals and getting a key win over a much-better opponent is great for the team's morale. There's also no time to really enjoy it. It's right back to work on Sunday in Winnipeg.
The Flyers used a road trip to turn some things in their favor at the start of November. Perhaps this is a sign that some time away from home could steer them in the right direction.
Now, if only they could find a way to play like this at home.
By the Numbers
The Sabres had the better chances in this game, finishing with 11 high-danger scoring chances to nine for the Flyers, but it was the Flyers performance in the last two periods that stands out. The Flyers had a 46.67 CF% in the second period and a 58.33 CF% in the third to finish off a solid afternoon in Buffalo.
Stat of the Game
It was a much-needed positive game for Ivan Provorov. Not only did he score a goal, but he was also a plus-5 in the game. Provorov also had four shots on goal in 23:37.