Sabres’ 4-goal 2nd-period surge fuels 4-3 win over Flyers
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tage Thompson’s go-ahead goal capped a four-goal, second-period outburst and the Buffalo Sabres rallied to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in a meeting of non-playoff teams Saturday night.
Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and assist, and Kyle Okposo and Vinnie Hinostroza also scored for the Sabres, who trailed 2-0 less than four minutes into the opening period. Craig Anderson stopped 18 shots.
“Yeah, it wasn’t us. I was not happy. I was steaming inside and I was pretty pent up,” Okposo said of the Sabres’ poor start. “It was just great to see everybody kind of band together and not use that energy for negativity. We used it the right way.”
Okposo overcame a scare in missing the final 5:50 when Thompson’s shot struck him in the right knee. Okposo needed help from a teammate to get to the bench with play underway before returning for the second period.
“Just made sure it wasn’t broken and then just some Advil and Tylenol and away we go,” said Okposo, who opened the scoring for Buffalo with his 20th goal of the season.
“That’s the guy that he is, without question our biggest leader,” coach Don Granato said of Okposo. “You saw tonight, he takes that shot block, he finishes his shift, he’s a pro and he comes back out there because he cares about his team and scores a goal, and that’s Okie.”
Okposo reached 20 goals for the third time in his career, and first since scoring 22 in 2015-16, his final year with the New York Islanders. Buffalo’s four-goal period matched a season high, which came in the first period of a 6-3 win over the Flyers on Jan. 22.
Joel Farabee, Owen Tippett and Travis Konecny scored for an injury-depleted Flyers team featuring a lineup that included five rookies. Philadelphia has lost nine of 11, and four straight, in which it has been outscored by a combined margin of 22-8.
“We didn’t play well enough, that’s the bottom line,” Flyers coach Mike Yeo lamented in listing numerous breakdowns, from missed passes and poor decision-making. “I also felt we played it very easy, tried to play an easy game. A lot of poke and hope and swinging in our game.”
The Flyers’ pop-gun power-play unit, which entered the day ranked last in the NHL, fizzled by failing to convert all four opportunities, including three over the final 12 minutes of regulation. Philadelphia has now converted two of its past 36 power-play opportunities.
Martin Jones stopped 25 shots and has allowed 19 goals in his past five appearances, two of them victories.
Buffalo overcame a sleepy start in allowing Farabee and Tippett to score on the Flyers’ second and third shots on goal. The Sabres turned the tables in the second period by outshooting the Flyers 18-4.
Hinostroza tied it at 3 by beating two Flyers defenders to a loose puck in the slot and snapping a shot to beat Jones inside the right post with 4:24 left in the second period — and 90 seconds after Konecny’s goal.
Thompson scored with 2:02 left in the period, and with Flyers rookie Noah Cates penalized for hooking. Buffalo worked the puck to Casey Mittelstadt in the right circle, where he fed a pass through the middle to Thompson, who roofed a shot in from the left circle.
The second period continues to be a struggle for the Flyers, who have been outscored by a combined 94-66 in the middle frame this season.
Jeff Skinner’s puck-handling ability played a key part in setting up Dahlin’s goal, which tied the game at 2 at the 8:27 mark of the second period.
Skinner gained the blue line, drew a delayed hooking penalty called against James van Riemsdyk, and then cut across the middle without losing control. Avoiding two defenders at the left boards, Skinner kicked the puck back to his stick before feeding Dahlin, who scored while being left wide open at the right post.
Flyers: RW Cam Atkinson missed his second game with a lower-body injury. Atkinson was scheduled to skate in Philadelphia on Saturday and considered 50-50 by coach Mike Yeo to play Sunday, when the Flyers host Buffalo. C Nate Thompson returned after missing one game.
Sabres: D Mattias Samuelsson returned after missing one game with a lower body injury. LW Anders Bjork played for just the second time in 21 Buffalo outings, and replaced Cody Eakin in the lineup.
Teams conclude a two-game home-and-home set at Philadelphia on Sunday.
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