Game 81: RIP Playoff Hopes

After nursing a 1-0 lead, Philly rebounded with two unanswered goals to win 2-1. With this loss and the Caps win, Buffalo was eliminated from playoff contention tonight.


1st Period: Just a quick FYI. Sulzer didn’t play tonight because he had to head back to Nashville due to personal reasons. Hopefully, things are alright with him. 

There was lots of back-and-forth action for the first four minutes. Overall, there was probably only one really good scoring chance for either team. Leopold walked in from the blueline and almost hooked-up with Stafford for a redirection. The forwards from both teams were doing a good job coming back on the backcheck. Buffalo would get the game’s first penalty, a bench-minor for too-many-men that was served by Leino with 14:04 to go. Philly struggled to get anything going, thanks to the Sabres’ aggressive penalty-killing, so the game remained scoreless. The FES line and the defensive-pairing of Regehr-Sekera had a strong shift after the penalty had expired to help gain a little momentum.

Weber had a brain-cramp that led to a 3-on-1 for the Flyers, but Miller made the save with a little help from Leopold. Not too much would happen until about three minute mark of the period. Scott Hartnell laid a hit on Hodgson after the whistle had gone and scrum ensued. Hartnell would get the only penalty, so Buffalo would go on the power play. After an extremely bad zone entry attempt, Matt Read had a breakaway on Miller. Miller made a phenomenal poke-check to keep the game scoreless. It was Hasek-esque in my opinion. That was the best chance for either team during that sequence. With 40 seconds left, Weber and Wayne Simmonds started jostling with each other before the face-off which resulted in a 4-on-4. The Sabres did have a 3-on-1 after that, but Ennis screwed the pooch. It would remain scoreless going into the next period. Save for two really bad plays, Buffalo’s team defense was very good.  


2nd Period: There was still a little time left on the 4-on-4 situation and the Flyers started off strong. They had a couple of really good scoring chances that Miller stopped. They almost got a goal on a pretty innocent looking shot that was swept away by Sekera at the last second. Leino and Pominville had a 2-on-1 chance that was foiled by Leino unwillingness to shoot the puck. Lots of up-and-down play with very few chances for both teams resulted again. 

That started to change though around the eight-minute mark of the period. Buffalo started pouring it on offensively. The Ennis in particular was firing on a cylinders again for the billionth game in a row. However they could not buy a goal. With about 2:30 left, Leino would atone for his earlier miscue. After some good work by his line on the cycle, the puck found its way from the point towards the front of the net. From there, Leino would tap it into the net after some hard work in front of the net. There were some more close calls for the Sabres in terms of scoring chances. Once again, Ilya Bryzgalov would make some saves and keep it a 1-0 game heading into the 3rd. 


3rd Period: Jaromir Jagr worked over Regehr in the first minute of play and had himself a decent scoring chance. Fortunately, Regehr had kept him to the outside enough to make things relatively easy for Miller to stop him. The Roy line had a strong first shift in the period and setup Weber for a good point shot off the cycle that Brysgalov saved. Ennis and Foligno had a 2-on-1  shortly after that. Foligno took the pass from Ennis and tried to score on the backhand, but he couldn’t elevate it. The Sabres briefly had a 3-on-1 and Vanek was the puck-carrier. Instead of shooting with the other guys now covered, he held onto the puck and got stopped by a sliding Kimmo Timmonen. Usually blowing a chance like that comes back to bite you and it did.

After some good work by Claude Giroux’s line, the puck went back to the point to Marc-Andre Bourdon. His shot appeared to deflect off of Leopold and got past Miller to tie the game, 1-1. with about 14 minutes to go. A couple minutes after the Flyers’ goal, the Ennis line almost got the lead back after a flurry of shots. Another rush from the Ennis line drew a hooking penalty, putting the Sabres back on the power play with 8:47 remaining. Their opportunity ended being a wasted one. I don’t even think they got a shot on goal. 

Unfortunately, with 4:21 left, Matt Read would put the Flyers on top. The puck squirted out of the Flyers’ zone, leaving Read and Regehr to battle 1-on-1. Regehr got caught flat-footed and Read got around him to go in all alone on Miller and he would score. Buffalo had a hard time getting anything going after the goal and couldn’t even get out of their own end. They had a short burst with about a minute to go with the goalie pulled, but to no avail and they’d go on to lose. 



-I felt really bad for Regehr. The guy has been solid all year long and the rare time he made a mistake, it ended up being the death nail for his team’s season.

-Hats off to the Ennis line for playing hard for 60 minutes and generating chances. Sucks that they couldn’t finish this game.

-Good game by Miller

-Sekera wasn’t bad, but I was hoping he’d step up more than he did in the absence of Myers, Ehrhoff, and Sulzer.

-Injured or not, I wasn’t very happy with Vanek tonight.


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