Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 1

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Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 1

BOX SCORE

They had already blown not one but two five-on-three power plays, hardly mustering anything that you would classify as a “shot.”

They didn’t seem to know what quite to make of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, whose .917 save percentage is pretty impressive on a bad club.

Should we shoot? Should we pass? And where?

That’s how it went for much of the first 40 minutes of play for the Flyers before Matt Read, Steve Downie and Sean Couturier awakened their club with a pair of goals generated by their line just 1:09 apart in the second period.

Read scored twice as the Flyers overcame a 1-0 deficit and took a one-goal lead into the third period during Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the Sabres at Wells Fargo Center.

Goalie Ray Emery evened his record at 3-3 in his sixth start, while the win extended the Flyers' point streak to six games (5-0-1).

With the victory, the Flyers officially hit the quarter mark of the season (21) and are 9-10-2 with 20 points.

First period
The Flyers overcame themselves in the first period. They treated the puck like it was a live grenade, fumbling it in both the offensive and defensive zones. Their passing was anything but crisp and their turnovers led to the only goal in the period -- by Buffalo.

Third period
The Flyers went into the third leading 2-1 for the sixth time this season and got a clutch power-play goal from Vinny Lecavalier to give Emery some breathing room at 9:58, making it 3-1. Lecavalier leads the Flyers with eight goals.

Missed opportunities
The Sabres had some chances early in the game but their puck skills were brutal, like missing Ville Leino with a half-empty net facing him or John Scott being unable to get his stick down properly on a redirect in front of Emery. Emery had a nice save on Drew Stafford’s scoring chance after an Erik Gustafsson turnover.

Missed opportunities II
In the first 10 minutes, Claude Giroux and Lecavalier hit the post twice. After that? The Flyers were simply awful with the puck on their sticks the remainder of the period. Botched passes, turnovers, flubbed shots. They blew a 41-second two-man advantage and had trouble even setting things up.

The big kill
The beleaguered penalty kill units had an outstanding kill during Scott Hartnell’s four-minute high stick in the second period. At one point, the Flyers had the puck in Buffalo’s end and generated better chances than their own power play units.

The big chill
That would be a five-on-three Flyer power play shortly after their big kill in the second period in which the team was indecisive on when or where to shoot and moved the puck around the ice like it was still a live grenade. Miller faced three easy shots when all he had to do was raise or lower the glove.

Sobering stats
How bad are the Sabres? So bad that … Buffalo is now 0-3-1 when scoring first and 0-16-0 when trailing after two periods.

Wow stat
Buffalo had not led after the first period in any game this season … until now. Tyler Myers scored in a scrum late in the first period for a 1-0 Sabres' lead.

Read it and weep
Read drilled one past Miller from the high slot at 14:09 of the first on a pass from Downie. Then he made it 2-1 at 15:49 when Downie found him alone in front. Read made Miller commit, then went top shelf. That line had six points.

Special teams
The Flyers were 1 for 7 on the power play. The Sabres were 1 for 5.

Scratches
Both defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill sat out their sixth consecutive game. Michael Raffl sat out his fifth straight. All were healthy.

Loose pucks
Just wondering when the last time the Flyers went six straight games with nothing but healthy scratches? Had to have been years ago. … The Flyers had a season-high in shots with 46.

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

OTTAWA, Ontario — Exactly one year ago, Dec. 1, 2015, Travis Konecny was a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.

He had just learned that he had been invited to the Team Canada selection camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship and he was at the Canadian Tire Centre spending time with future Flyers teammates during the morning skate as they prepared for a game that night against the Ottawa Senators.

Fast forward one year to today, Dec. 1, 2016, and Konecny is back at the CTC, this time to face the Senators alongside his current Flyers teammates as a key part of the team’s offense.

Quite a step forward in just one calendar year for a kid not named Crosby or McDavid.

“It’s crazy how fast it happened and I’m definitely humbled I was given the opportunity. They believed enough in me to make the jump this year and it definitely hits me every day that I get the opportunity to play in the NHL,” said Konecny, who has scored four times and added nine assists through the first 25 games of his NHL career. He has also added a team-leading 33 penalty minutes and that goes a long way in explaining the type of game he plays.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ve never been like that before," Konecny said before the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win Thursday (see game story). "When you’re playing in the NHL, some guys will run over you all game if they can so I think part of these penalties I’m taking is me just having to step up and I’m just setting an example of sticking up for my teammates."

It wasn’t until his second game in the league that he took his first penalty, but he was on the score sheet before that having collected two assists in his debut Oct. 14 in a 4-2 win over the Kings in Los Angeles.

His first goal came Oct. 25 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The key for his success in making the jump from junior to the NHL is simple.

“Just keeping things simple," he said. "Learning in the NHL is about reading off mistakes. You can’t always make a play, you have to be smart and make sure you’re doing what’s right for the team and I think just keeping my game simple is what got me here." 

There is one main difference between the two levels, Konecny added.

“The speed, and I don’t necessarily mean just skating," he said. "Thinking wise and how fast plays happen. Guys like [Senators defenseman Erik] Karlsson, he’s thinking so fast and he knows his play two or three steps before the next guy does, so you just have to try and outthink guys and to me that’s been the biggest jump.”

Konecny is not foreign to the Senators’ home ice surface. He spent part of his time in junior playing there while the 67’s home arena was being renovated.

He had to leave several passes for friends and family for the game Tuesday night, his first as a pro in the city that was dazzled by his play in junior for 2½ seasons.

“It was a lot of fun and it brought back a lot of memories," Konecny said after going scoreless in 14:13 of ice time. "We didn’t play in front of as many fans as we did tonight but definitely a lot of games played here and a lot of fond memories.

“Even flying in [Wednesday] was something special and driving around the city looking at the roots where I was for three years.”

Best of NHL: Hossa gives Blackhawks OT win over Devils

Best of NHL: Hossa gives Blackhawks OT win over Devils

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa scored his team-leading 12th goal through a screen at 1:31 of overtime to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

Hossa's shot through traffic from high in the slot beat Cory Schneider on the glove side, moments after New Jersey's Mike Cammalleri hit the post on a prime chance against Chicago's Corey Crawford.

New Jersey's Travis Zajac scored his third goal of the game at 8:49 of the third to tie it 3-all after scores by Chicago's Artem Anisimov and Niklas Hjalmarsson late in the second period had put the Blackhawks ahead.

Marcus Kruger also connected for Western Conference-leading Chicago to end a 22-game drought as the Blackhawks won their second straight and played beyond regulation for third consecutive time. They are 3-0-1 in their last four.

The Devils have dropped four straight (0-2-2) (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins run away from Stars
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby broke the game's final tie and assisted on another score in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Dallas Stars 6-2 on Thursday night.

Crosby scored his league-leading 16th goal in the second period and assisted on Conor Sheary's sixth as Pittsburgh scored three goals in the final 4 minutes. Eric Fehr's third of the season was the 100th of his career and Patric Hornqvist's seventh came on the power play. Nick Bonino and Ian Cole both scored their third for Pittsburgh, which avoided consecutive regulation losses for the first time this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves for Pittsburgh. Fleury, who won for the first time in five starts, has six wins in his last nine home games.

Tyler Seguin scored his eighth and Devin Shore his second for the Stars, who continue to struggle on the road. Dallas has lost its previous five away from home and has three wins in 14 road games this season. The Stars have lost three straight and seven of their last 10.

Antti Niemi , playing in his 400th career game, stopped 34 shots (see full recap).

Eichel helps Sabres knock off Rangers
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals in the third period, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Thursday night for their second straight victory.

Buffalo's winning streak coincides with the return of Eichel, who missed the first 21 games with a high ankle sprain. The 20-year-old center had a goal and an assist in Buffalo's 5-4 win in Ottawa on Tuesday and has recorded a point in seven straight games dating to last season.

In his first home game of the season, Eichel scored on a power play with 7:15 remaining and netted the winning goal 1:43 later. Buffalo is now 10-3-1 when Eichel has more than one point (see full recap).