NHL Game Summary - Philadelphia at Buffalo
(Friday, April 7th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 4, Buffalo 2
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Simon Gagne scored a goal and added two assists to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena.
Mike Knuble added a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, which officially clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Robert Esche made 20 saves as the Flyers pulled to within three points of the idle New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division crown.
Philadelphia was without center Peter Forsberg, who missed the game with a groin injury.
Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik scored for Buffalo, which still leads the Flyers by five points in the race for home ice advantage with fourth place in the East. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 34 shots as the Sabres lost for the first time in three games.
The Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 lead as R.J. Umberger scored 1:32 into the contest. From the neutral zone, Niko Dimitrakos chipped the puck into the Buffalo zone and Jeff Carter controlled the puck at the left side of the net. Carter then shoveled the puck to a streaking Umberger in front and he backhanded the disc past Miller on his glove side.
Philadelphia made it a 2-0 game at 9:06 of the first on Gagne's 44th tally of the season. From the right corner, Mike Richards fed the puck to Gagne at the top of the right circle and his slap shot beat Miller high to the stick side.
"I think the biggest difference for us was that we got the lead," said Philadelphia head coach Ken Hitchcock. "We weren't chasing the game. We had the lead the whole game. It allowed us to play our game a little bit better. I think that was the biggest difference."
The Sabres pulled to within a goal 59 seconds into the middle session on a great individual effort by Connolly. On a 4-on-3 power play for Buffalo, Connolly controlled the puck at the left point and faked a shot as he carried the disc down low. He then made two dekes on his way to the net before backhanding the puck over Esche's right shoulder for the goal.
The Flyers regained their two-goal lead on a power-play tally by Eric Desjardins at 9:07 of the second stanza.
With 2:02 left in the second, Buffalo made it a 3-2 contest as Kotalik fired a one-timer from the right point past Esche low on his stick side after a pass from Maxim Afinogenov.
Philadelphia actually had the better of the play in the third period and with 4:10 left in the contest, Knuble's 33rd goal of the season gave the Flyers a 4-2 edge. Knuble took a cross-ice pass from Joni Pitkanen at the right side of the net and easily slammed the puck past Miller.
Buffalo pulled Miller with a minute left but were unable to score as Flyers held on for the victory.
"I thought we did a very poor job with the puck," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. "We didn't make a lot of plays, we gave a lot of pucks away. We turned a lot of pucks over. I thought that was the game."
Philadelphia won for the first time in its last eight trips to HSBC Arena...The Flyers also defeated the Sabres for the first time in four meetings this season...Ryan Potulny made his NHL debut with the Flyers. The forward was a 2006 Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist and signed with Philadelphia after his season with the University of Minnesota ended...The Flyers host Toronto on Saturday...Kotalik's goal was his first in 13 games...The Sabres will visit Ottawa on Saturday.
04/08 02:21:10 ET