Monday, February 16, 2015

Raffl's return keys narrow win in Buffalo

Buffalo, NY -- They're not dead yet. And they just might be back in the playoff race with a little bit of help from the master scheduler.

Michael Raffl returned to the lineup and notched the game-winning goal late in the third period to lift the Philadelphia Flyers past the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Sunday, in a game whose end result was prime but whose score should have been greater for the winning side.

Matt Read also scored and Ray Emery made 21 saves for the Flyers, who have earned a point in nine straight game (6-0-3) for the first time since March 8-26, 2011.

The Orange and Black are also creeping up on eighth place, now just five points back of idle and struggling Boston for that final precious postseason berth and facing another home stand starting Tuesday against Columbus.

"We took it to them in first," Emery said. "I think we are keeping it simple and sticking to our system."
Nikita Zadorov provided Buffalo's lone tally and Michal Neuvirth stopped 28- of-30 shots in the team's third straight loss.

"He played well, especially in the first period," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of Neuvirth. "He really kept us in the game."

The Sabres have lost five straight games to the Flyers for the first time since Nov. 21, 2008 to Nov. 6, 2009.
Raffl, who missed the previous seven games with pneumonia, provided the deciding tally with 7:15 left in regulation as he emerged from behind the net and beat an unsuspecting Neuvirth on a wraparound through the pads.

Buffalo pulled Neuvirth with under a minute to play, but was unable to force overtime.

The Flyers struck first as Read was stationed in front of the net and deflected Wayne Simmonds' shot from the left point 3:19 into the game.

After being outshot 15-5 in the first period, Buffalo had good chances early in the middle stanza as Johan Larsson rang a shot off the post and Tyler Ennis was stopped in tight on a partial breakaway.

The Sabres took advantage of a full two-minute 5-on-3 advantage past the midway mark of the second.
Moments after Chris VandeVelde was stopped on a short-handed breakaway, Zadorov ripped a hard shot through the pads of a screened Emery from the top of the right circle for a tied game at 13:57.

Notes: A moment of silence was held prior to the game for former Sabres defenseman Steve Montador, who was found dead in his Ontario home on Sunday at the age of 35 ... Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn also came back from a 12-game absence due to a broken foot ... Buffalo defenseman Zach Bogosian, who was acquired from Winnipeg on Wednesday as part of the Evander Kane trade, had 11 hits over 24:49 in his debut ... Raffl also scored the game-winning goal in Philadelphia's 4-3 win over Buffalo on Jan. 17 ... The Sabres last defeated Philadelphia on April 13, 2013 ... The two teams will meet again at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

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