(WGR 550) – After a pretty good start on Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres were getting run over in Philadelphia by the Flyers. Buffalo was trailing 1-0 and hadn’t gotten a shot for 13 minutes when the captain had seen enough.
Kyle Okposo broke up ice while having his stick held by Morgan Frost. Okposo ripped his stick away and joined a 3-on-1 rush. Peyton Krebs found him coming through the right circle, and with 10 seconds left in the period, he found room under the crossbar on Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom and the Sabres went into the intermission tied, 1-1.
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It wouldn’t surprise me if Okposo had some choice words for his teammates too, because boy did they come out flying in the second period.
The Sabres responded with three goals in a 2:21 span to open the middle frame. Alex Tuch scored at 1:25, Jordan Greenway scored at 2:40 and Jeff Skinner scored at 3:46, and all of a sudden a 1-0 deficit was a 4-1 lead.
Later in the second period, the Flyers started to pressure Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, but he made numerous saves on Grade-A chances.
A 6-3 final score makes it seem like the Sabres dominated, but that’s far from the case. They needed Luukkonen to make 39 saves to help win that game.
Tuch was at his very best, as Tage Thompson missed his third-straight games with injury. He finished Saturday's game with a hat-trick, giving him 35 goals on the season. That’s a 43-goal pace over 82 games.
The 26-year-old can score goals in many different ways, but his shorthanded goal to put the game away with just 3:27 left was the best. Jack Quinn worked so hard to strip the puck from Joel Farabee while killing a penalty. He found Tuch all alone, who deked Sandstrom right out of the net.
Casey Mittelstadt assisted on three goals in this game, and now has seven assists spanning four-straight contests. Mittelstadt has 39 assists in 75 games this season, which is a 43-assist pace.
Remember I brought up Okposo as saving the game in the first? He also had a key blocked shot on a third period penalty kill while his team was nursing a two-goal lead.
So the Sabres beat the Flyers and the New York Rangers for their second-consecutive weekend sweeps of back-to-back games.
After picking up just six out of 24 points, Buffalo is attempting to climb back into the playoff race. The Sabres have points in five-consecutive games, going 4-0-1 in that span and picking up nine out of 10 points.
Buffalo is in 11th place by both points and points percentage. They’re three points back of the ninth place Pittsburgh Penguins with one game in-hand. Buffalo trails the eighth place Florida Panthers by four points with two games in-hand, and are behind the seventh place New York Islanders by six points with two games in-hand.
The Sabres next play Tuesday night in Florida, where they have no choice but to win that game in regulation. Before that contest is played, the Islanders visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, while the Pens host the Flyers.
Buffalo returned home and will practice on Monday before leaving for Sunrise, Florida.