In the second half of back-to-back games, the Flyers were trying to improve upon the uninspired 2-1 loss they suffered to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
After giving up the first goal to the Sabres, they cranked up the intensity with some help from the power play and the fists of Sean O’Donnell, ultimately downing Buffalo, 6-3.
In the Stanley Cup Finals last season, the Flyers weren’t afraid to play with aggression because of their iron-clad penalty kill. Although still a decent PK, ranked ninth going into last night’s match-up, they’ve lost key cogs in the unit. The penalty kill faltered last night and gave the Sabres two of their goals, including the first of the night.
After starting off sluggish and giving up a quick goal a man down, O’Donnell took it upon himself to rally the team. About midway through the first period (at 9:15), he dropped the gloves with Cody McCormick and took him to the ice.
“Once they scored, and I saw who was on the ice, I thought – and I didn’t want to get a penalty for doing anything silly – if there was a chance to get our bench going and crowd going, I thought it was a good time to try something,” O’Donnell said. “It worked out well.”
A miserable three goals is all the Flyers could muster out of 35 man advantages before last night. They were able to match that number against the Sabres on six power plays, including one on a 5-on-3. They moved the puck east to west, and received great support from the points. Danny Briere and Claude Giroux both had highlight reel goals, and although he didn’t receive a point for his efforts, Ville Leino dazzled every time he touched the puck.
This game, along with a few others this season, shows the Flyers can be a strong team, but consistency is an issue for them. They shelled Anaheim and Toronto with over 40 shots each, and responded by showing up in Columbus without emotion. Getting the power play going is a step in the right direction, but the penalty kill has lost steam.
The Flyers get a chance to prove they can win consistently this weekend with another pair of consecutive games, starting Friday in Pittsburgh and then Saturday back to the Wells Fargo Center against the surprising New York Islanders.