Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 3:37 p.m. Updated: 4:54 p.m.
By Ryan BrightCSNPhilly.com Contributor
The Flyers once again failed to finish.
The Flyers couldnt hold on to first-period goals from Kris Versteeg and James van Riemsdyk and dropped their third straight contest, 5-3, to the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.
In the first 55 games the wins have come our way, said coach Peter Laviolette. The bounces, the breaks, everything has come our way. Weve hit a patch here where things have not come as easily for us.
That patch has been a rough one because for the third time in a week, the Flyers allowed the opposition to storm from behind to rob them of a crucial two points in the suddenly close Eastern Conference standings. On Feb. 26 it was Ottawa and on March 3 it was Toronto. And on Saturday, it was the Sabres that added to the Flyers defensive misery. Without anger or blame at the defeat, Laviolette confidently vowed improvement.
Theres a belief in there (the locker room) that were going to be successful every night, he said. And we will continue down the road, to work, to push and win hockey games. Some nights its not going to be easy, you wont get the breaks or bounces. There are definitely things we could have done better tonight and well continue to work at it. But this team got to this point by a certain recipe and identity how they play the game and we have to continue to work on getting back to that. Wins will start to come our way, I promise you this.
As the Flyers trailed 3-2, with the game slipping away late in the second period, a pair of defensemen looked to turn things around. With Versteeg off for slashing and the Flyers holding court in the Buffalo zone, Braydon Coburn managed to keep the puck from escaping. In doing so, the keep caused the Sabres defense to leave Kimmo Timonen wide open in front of the net. Coburn hit his partner with a pass and Timonen finished the shorthanded play to tie the game at three. It was the 100th goal of his NHL career.
It would have been nice if we won the game. Im not a big stat guy, Timonen said. But Im sure in a couple years, two or three years when I retire, itll be a nice memory.
However, the good feelings from Timonens milestone were short-lived as Sabres forward Jason Pominville would have final say. At the 13:23 mark of the third period, after entering the Flyers zone, Thomas Vanek threw the puck to Pominville, who was sent streaking down the slot. Gaining the edge on the checking defender, the 28-year old Quebec native redirected the hard pass through Sergei Bobrovsky for the 4-3 Buffalo lead. The Flyers pulled their goalie with little over a minute left to play and the puck was easily deposited in their open net by Nathan Gerbe.
Obviously we came out really hard and I thought the first 20 minutes was the best 20 minutes we played in the last 10 games, said Timonen. But in the last few games we take a period off and it cost us. In this league you have to play 60 minutes to win games and we havent done that.
Like they had done in their previous three contests, the Flyers earned first blood. On the man advantage at 8:51 of the opening period, Mike Richards fired a quick pass to defenseman Matt Carle, situated at the low face-off circle. Carle threw the puck into the slot, where it escaped the traffic in front to find Versteeg all alone at the back door. With Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller unable to track the disc, Versteeg easily found the open net to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead. The goal was Versteegs 18th of the season and third in two games for the Flyers. The tally was the Flyers first on the power play since Feb. 20 against the New York Rangers, when Claude Giroux scored in the 4-2 win. They had gone 0-14 over that span.
It doesnt matter how many goals you score or what were on when we do it, said Versteeg. Its all about the end result. Sometimes its disheartening, but we can take the positives from this goal and take it to other games. Well be fine.
The home team doubled their lead with a little over two minutes left in the first, when van Riemsdyk accepted a kick pass from Giroux and flew into the Sabres zone. Blazing by defender Shaone Morrison to produce a two-on-one with Jeff Carter, van Riemsdyk pulled the puck to his backhand and roofed a picture-perfect shot over Millers glove hand for his 16th of the year.
But like they had done in their last four contests, the Flyers watched their early lead evaporate. Drew Stafford opened scoring for Buffalo at 13:08 of the second, off a tic-tac-toe pass from Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis. Cashing in on the momentum shift, Ennis locked the game at two just moments later and Andrej Sekera gave Buffalo the 3-2 lead with a wrap-around that had the Flyers defense falling all over themselves.
Youre going to hit bumps at some point during the season, Timonen said. We havent had those yet so this is ours. And only the guys in the locker room can fight back and get over it.
E-mail Ryan Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org
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