Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lecavalier to the rescue as Flyers steal two points in Buffalo

Buffalo, NY -- Regardless of the way it started, progressed in the middle and then almost ended, it was two points to kick off a crucial stretch of four games in six days.

Vincent Lecavalier's goal with 14.8 seconds left in regulation capped a wild third period and sent the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Tuesday.

On the shift prior, Lecavalier's prayer from the left wing deflected off a Sabres stick, fooled Jhonas Enroth and almost crossed the goal line. As time wound down in regulation, Matt Read fished a loose puck out of a scrum at the left post and dished back to the veteran, who ended a 13-game scoring drought with a rising shot from the bottom of the circle.

"They've been hard to come by since I came back from my injury," Lecavalier said of his goal production. "I'm just getting more confidence to keep going. It was huge for the team. It probably wasn’t our best game, but we came back again and we show a lot of will and confidence in our play in the third period."

Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell also lit the lamp in a three-goal third period for the Flyers, who picked up a crucial road victory after dropping games over the weekend to the Lightning and Rangers.

Steve Mason did just enough to snag the win, making 16 saves. Coming just three days after being yanked after allowing five goals on 17 shots to the Lightning, it wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered.

"It was a tough game from my standpoint to play, not very busy," Mason said. "There was a lot of standing around, so those are the games that when they're over with and you come away with two points, you're happy about that."

Cody Hodgson, Matt D'Agostini and Tyler Ennis tallied for the Sabres, whose eight-game home point streak (6-0-2) came to an end. Steve Ott chipped in two assists in defeat, while Enroth stopped 29 shots.

"It's not a wasted opportunity," Sabres head coach Ten Nolan said. "I think it's just one of those things, the last goal, one of our defenseman knocks a guy, knocks down our goaltender, they get a shot and it goes through four guys to find the net. It's just one of those things, it just wasn't meant to be. We didn't play well enough to win and we have to learn to play a certain way."

Buffalo got on the board at 6:59 of the first period, when Ott split a seam with a pass from the left-wing boards and Hodgson skated up the middle and beat Mason with a low shot inside the right post.

Enroth kept the visitors off the board minutes later by diving out and stopping a Claude Giroux backhander with the heel of his blocker.

He was helpless, however, as Jakub Voracek converted a Wayne Simmonds dish from his usual perch in the right circle to cap a power play and tie the game 1:40 into the second.

Buffalo began to carry the play in the final frame, and the effort paid off. Seconds after Ott broke in and rang a shot off the crossbar, he picked up the puck along the right-wing boards and fed a charging D'Agostini to put the Sabres up 2-1 at 6:27 of the third period.

Schenn beat Enroth with a turnaround shot near the right post to even the score with 6:32 on the clock, and the visitors took the lead on a subsequent power play.

"He's been our best player when he's played; we just haven't gotten him the goals," said D'Agostini.

Only 47 seconds after Zenon Konopka plowed into Mason to draw an interference penalty, Hartnell finished off a three-way passing play with Giroux and Simmonds for s 3-2 Flyers' edge with 4:07 remaining.

"The so-called fourth line is supposed to be reliable and get you some quality minutes and wear the opposition down," Nolan added. "You don't take foolish penalties when the score's tied 2-2 and give away a goal."

But Ennis countered from a bad angle on the right wing, slipping a shot through Mason's pads to knot the contest less than a minute later.

Notes: The Flyers picked up their eighth win this season after trailing at some point in the third period, one away from the franchise record of nine set in their Eastern Conference title season of 1996-97 ... Philly returns home Thursday to face the Nashville Predators ... Having picked up a pair of assists, Hartnell recorded his 25th career three-point game ... Lecavalier hadn't scored since a 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 27 ... A whopping 23 of the Sabres' 45 games this year have been decided by one goal, and the club fell to 9-9-5 in such contests this season ... Read returned to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a concussion.
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