Flyers Cruise Past Sabres, Move Up The Metro Division Ladder

Published on November 22nd, 2013

By Anthony Mingioni

PHILADELPHIA-Sparked by a two goal burst by winger Matt Read and a strong performance from linemates Sean Couturier and Steve Downie, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres , 4-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

The Flyers’ fourth win in the last five games have pulled them from the abyss of an awful first month to a 9-10-2 record. Their sixth consecutive regulation victory also pulled them into a tie for fifth place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes.

After a tepid first period performance that saw the Sabres draw first blood on the power play on a goal mouth scramble tally by defenseman Tyler Myers, the second period saw the Flyers assert themselves in the puck possession game while gaining a 19-6 shot advantage.

Despite that shot total, it wasn’t a withering shooting gallery. In reality, the Flyers played an outstanding game of keep away from the Sabres, blanketing the road team all over the ice at five on five.

Key to the turnaround was the performance of the Couturier line as they completed the contest with a combined six points and plus six rating.

For Read, the answer is pretty elementary and key in overcoming their flat start.

“It’s just playing simple hockey,” Read said. “The first period we try to make plays going over the blue line and turning a lot of pucks over. Then in the second period we just talked about getting pucks deep and being smart out there – get it behind their D and go to work.”

“I think we talk a lot off the ice and try to figure out our system and figure out where each other are. I think the last couple games are showing Couturier, Downie and I are having fun out there, doing simple things and not turning pucks over. We’re just having fun out there and making things happen.”

The chemistry of the line was in full evidence on the tying and go-ahead goals for Philadelphia. Couturier was able to corral the puck to the right of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller then fed Downie off the boards. The winger then was able to quickly find Read in front for a perfect timed shot.

Read indicated that the shot itself wasn’t perfect.

“I didn’t get all of it. I think (Miller) might’ve fallen down, but I’ll take it.”

Read’s second came as a result of a Flyers face off win in the Sabres zone. While forechecking the Sabres’ defense, he found himself alone in front when Couturier got the puck quickly into the zone. Buffalo wasn’t able to rotate fast enough off of Downie’s subsequent pass, leaving Read with plenty of time to pick his spot.

After returning from injury in his first game as a Flyer, Downie has fit exceptionally well with Couturier and Read because of the little things that he does as a member of what is basically the team’s checking line.

“I think he creates offense for them on that line,” Berube said. “He has very good vision with the puck and he’s strong with the puck; makes a lot of little plays.  I think with your checking team’s top line, it’s nice to get some offense too and he provides that.  He is a good player along the walls, doesn’t panic with the puck along the walls, he is strong and he’ll eat it and do the right things.”

Flyers center Vincent Leacavalier gave his team breathing room with a point blast on the power play near half way point of the third before Scott Hartnell finishing the scoring with an empty netter

Lecavalier played with Downie in Tampa Bay when the latter was traded there for Matt Carle. What he’s seeing out of him in his return to Philadelphia doesn’t surprise him.

“We played a little bit together. I think he is a really good hockey player. What is sometimes in the media is when he does these big hits and stuff like that, but he is definitely much more. He’s a smart player, like he did that first goal there.

“It’s not everybody that can make those plays, and he’s definitely one of those guys that has that patience there to take a second, make sure the other guy is open and then he makes that good pass.”

In the end, Philadelphia will take what they’re getting out of their players after such a difficult start to their season. A victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday would pull them to the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Game Notes: Ray Emery was excellent in net for Philadelphia, continuing a season long trend of strong goaltending performances. He finished with 29 saves and hasn’t lost a game in his last four starts (3-0-1)…The Flyers haven’t given up an even strength goal in their last five games, only one in the last six games, and three total in the last nine games…the Sabres are now 0-16 when trailing after two periods…before his third period power play goal, Lecavalier was struggling, missing an early first period scoring opportunity with indecisiveness and a muffed shot on the power play in the second.  He led the team in shots with six but four of them missed the target.

Matt Read had two goals for the Flyers | Source:  Andrew King

Matt Read had two goals for the Flyers | Source: Andrew King


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