BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tired of coming from behind during their NHL-best winning streak, the Buffalo Sabres went out and did something about it.
Jeff Skinner and the Sabres got off to a fast start Wednesday night as Buffalo scored four first-period goals on its way to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
It was a dynamic outburst from the league’s hottest team, which has won seven in a row.
“That was written on our white board — making sure we’re ready to start,” said right wing Tage Thompson, who scored Buffalo’s second goal. “We want to be on the winning side starting from the drop of the puck.”
Evan Rodrigues and Sam Reinhart each had a goal and an assist for Buffalo (14-6-2), which came from behind in its previous three victories. Skinner and Johan Larsson also scored, and Carter Hutton made 23 saves.
“It’s good for one that we’re learning,” Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. “It’s progress from the last few games of not starting the way we wanted. A full 60 minutes is what we’re looking for. I thought we played a majority of the game the way we wanted to.”
This is Buffalo’s longest run since taking 10 games in a row to open the 2006-07 season. It’s quite a change from last season, when the Sabres didn’t get their 14th win until late January and finished in last place.
“It’s a testament to the guys and putting in the work every day,” Eichel said. “But with that being said, it’s November. It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. There’s so much of our season left. We want to keep doing it. Your objective is to win every game. We’ll enjoy this one, obviously enjoy our holiday and then obviously we have a really good team coming in on Friday.”
Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds scored for Philadelphia (9-10-2). Alex Lyon made eight saves before being pulled for Calvin Pickard.
Buffalo was all over the Flyers right from the start.
Skinner opened the floodgates 3:38 into the game on a rebound opportunity. Jason Pominville’s shot from the right circle was stopped and pushed to Skinner in the slot, where he had an easy finish to make it 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, Thompson doubled Buffalo’s lead on a tremendous one-man effort. Thompson used his size and power to skate around Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas, tucking a shot inside the far post. It was his second goal of the season, with his first coming in Monday’s win over Pittsburgh.
Rodrigues made it 3-0 at 8:55 on the power play, his first goal of the season. He pounced on a rebound to end his scoring drought.
Larsson made it 4-0 just before the end of the first, scoring with eight seconds remaining. Larsson sped past Flyers defenseman Christian Folin and buried a hard shot to the short side for his first goal of the season.
Seconds later, Larsson bested Scott Laughton in a scrap.
“We didn’t do enough in the first 10 minutes in any way,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said.
The Flyers showed more fight in the second period, cutting Buffalo’s lead to 4-2.
Giroux got them on the board 5:26 into the second on a one-timer from close range. Simmonds made it 4-2 with 6:09 remaining in the period.
Philadelphia had its share of chances in the third period as well, but Buffalo was able to hold on. The Flyers’ best opportunity of the period came on a 2-on-1 rush with 6:48 remaining, when Hutton foiled Travis Konecny’s attempt. They had another good chance with 4:07 left after a Sabres defenseman fell, but failed to score.
Reinhart scored into an empty net with 1:38 to go.
NOTES: The Sabres recalled defenseman Lawrence Pilut from the AHL’s Rochester Americans before the game. Pilut was scratched, along with D Marco Scandella and LW Remi Elie. The Sabres signed Pilut last offseason out of the Swedish Hockey League, where he was named the league’s top defenseman last year. … Buffalo also placed C Patrik Berglund (upper body) on injured reserve. … G Brian Elliott, D Andrew MacDonald and RW Nicolas Aube-Kubel were scratched for the Flyers.
Flyers: Home against the New York Rangers on Friday afternoon.
Sabres: Home against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday afternoon.
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