On Tuesday evening, the Philadelphia Flyers traveled to Buffalo with a perfect opportunity to snap out of their mini funk with a matchup against the NHL’s worst team, the Sabres, and erase the memories of their lost weekend.
While they didn’t play their best game by any means, the Flyers got a key, late goal from a slumping player who desperately needed one and headed home on a winning note.
Vinny Lecavalier snapped his 13-game goalless drought when he fired a one-timer from the dot past Sabres’ goalie Jhonas Enroth with just 14.8 seconds left in regulation to unknot a tied game and give the Flyers a 4-3 win over the Sabres at First Niagara Center.
Jake Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell also scored for Philadelphia in the victory.
But it was Lecavalier’s goal that had everyone talking after the game and not just because it won the game.
The goal snapped Lecavalier’s 13-game goalless drought – his longest goalless drought since his rookie year of 1998-99 – and finally instilled some confidence back him after not scoring since before Thanksgiving. It also may have finally gotten him back on track after he missed nine games in December with a fracture in his back.
And, with as jumbled as the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings are, the Flyers are going to need Lecavalier back on track and putting up points if they are going to break away from the rest of the pack.
He’s more than capable of scoring goals and putting up points in bunches. That’s why the Flyers signed the 33-year-old to a five-year, $22.5 million deal this past offseason. Time will tell if Tuesday’s game-winner is the start of a scoring binge for Lecavalier. The Flyers sure hope it is.
As for the game itself, there wasn’t much to write home about for most of the contest. The Flyers didn’t play very well and were once again sloppy, turnover-prone and couldn’t generate much offensively.
But things escalated quickly with about 13 minutes left.
Buffalo broke a 1-1 tie around that point when Matt D’Agostini dove tipped a Steve Ott pass home past Steve Mason. But Philadelphia responded seven minutes later when Brayden Schenn found himself all alone with a loose puck and spun it past Enroth to knot the game back up.
Scott Hartnell cashed in on a one-timer from the dot on a power play to give the Flyers their first lead of the game with just over four minutes left. It wouldn’t last long though as the Sabres’ Tyler Ennis slid a weak goal through the legs of Mason to knot the game yet again.
Never fear, because it was time for Lecavalier to don the hero cape as he took a pass from Matt Read, who made his return after missing six games with a concussion, and slammed it home after a net-mouth scramble for the win and the escape from Buffalo.
Mason wasn’t tested much in the game but made 16 saves on 19 shots for the win. That Ennis goal is definitely one he would like to have back, though.
In all honestly, if the Flyers were playing almost any other team beside the terrible Sabres, the result probably would have been much different, and not in a good way. The Flyers played most of the game the way they played over the weekend and were lucky to get the win this time around. They have to tighten some things up going forward.
They’ll get their first chance to do just that when the Nashville Predators visit Wells Fargo Center on Thursday evening.