PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette confidently named Ilya Bryzgalov his starting goalie before Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres, the second of back-to-back contests.
Entering the game with three straight losses and residing near the bottom of the NHL's Eastern Conference, the Flyers badly needed a victory against Buffalo, one of the few teams below them in the standings. And Laviolette stuck with his high-priced goalie to try to reverse the skid.
Bryzaglov was far from flawless, but he maintained a lead throughout a 3-2 win over the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center. It was the Flyers' first victory in a week. Bryzgalov finished with 18 saves on 20 shots.
Bryzaglov played a role as the Flyers scored in the game's fifth minute, cashing in on a power play. The goalie and Kimmo Timonen assisted Simon Gagne, who scored his second goal since returning to the team last month.
That lead doubled four minutes later on a Sabres power play. Ruslan Fedotenko found Max Talbot, who knocked the puck past Sabres goalie Ryan Miller for a shorthanded goal.
"Specialty teams are such an important part of the game," Talbot said. "When you go on a PK, it is about killing the penalty first, but when you get the chance and put it in the net, it definitely gives the team a boost."
The Flyers defense neutralized Buffalo for much of the period. Brian Flynn of the Sabres scored at 11 minutes, 43 seconds of the first period, and it was only Buffalo's second shot on goal. A video replay revealed that only four Flyers were on the ice when the Sabres scored as a result of an error in a line change.
Claude Giroux scored his eighth goal of the season on a power play 17 seconds into the second period, stretching the Flyers' lead to 3-1. Timonen picked up the assist, his second of the game.
Giroux was partially responsible for the Sabres' second goal, which came on a Flyers power play in the third period. Giroux, playing the point, flicked a weak pass that was intercepted by Steve Ott, who fed a surging Jochen Hecht. Hecht's shot went past Bryzaglov, and the Flyers' grip on the game weakened.
Buffalo almost tied the score on a shot that slowly slid past Bryzgalov in the third period. Before the puck crossed the line, though, Brayden Schenn swiped it away and preserved the lead. Bryzgalov did the rest.
The game was physical throughout, with six misconducts or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Wayne Simmonds brought down Buffalo's Mike Weber in a first-period fight.
The victory was imperative for the Flyers (12-15-1), who face the Devils on Wednesday and Friday this week. It helped them avoid a season-worst losing streak and quieted criticism of Laviolette and the inconsistent roster for a few days.
"This is the time of year that teams are noticing the standings and looking at the games," Talbot said. "They are all must-win games for us, and Buffalo is in the same situation."
Bryzgalov said nothing needed to be said about importance of this game. "We all can read and we all can count," he said.
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