BUFFALO, N.Y. – Martin Biron made the Buffalo Sabres pay for plenty of missed opportunities.
Biron made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season and 24th overall in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-0 victory over the Sabres on Friday night. Buffalo misfired on a handful of open nets, hit three posts, and couldn’t muster any luck against a Philadelphia team that won its third straight. “We did a great job of making their goaltender look good,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Biron actually looked rather good on his own, making several spectacular saves against his former team to help the Flyers improve to 8-6-4 with their fourth win in five games. He stopped Thomas Vanek with a nifty right pad save on a second-period breakaway, and robbed Jaroslav Spacek on a point-blank slapshot with the Flyers down two men in the first.
Biron also made six big stops over a combined two minutes of a pair of Buffalo two-man advantages in the opening two periods.
“We played a pretty basic game, and Marty did everything that we needed him to do,” said Philadelphia centre Jeff Carter, who scored twice. “They had a lot of chances and a couple of lucky bounces off posts, but Marty was great. It gives us great confidence knowing how good he’s playing right now.”
Scott Hartnell also scored for the Flyers, 3-0-1 in their last four road games.
“I don’t think they outplayed us,” captain Mike Richards said. “We did a lot of good things.”
The Flyers won despite playing without former Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere. He missed his fourth consecutive game because of a groin injury.
“It wasn’t a perfect game for me, nor was it for the whole team, but we pulled it off,” Biron said.
After starting the season 6-0-2, the slumping Sabres (9-7-3) dropped their fourth straight to fall to 1-5-1 in their last seven games.
Buffalo’s Ryan Miller finished with 22 saves two nights after being pulled early in the third period in Boston after surrendering seven goals. He dropped to 5-1-1 in his last seven starts against the Flyers.
“We’ve stepped up and tried to play good solid games and haven’t been rewarded yet,” he said.
In an effort to shake up its slump, Buffalo sat defenceman Henrik Tallinder and forward Maxim Afinogenov. Right wing Mark Mancari, the second-leading scorer in the AHL, was recalled from Portland and inserted into the lineup, while defenceman Nathan Paetsch played for just the fifth time.
The change was to no avail.
“When you haven’t been going good you don’t get the breaks,” Ruff said. “We haven’t been going good.”
Hartnell opened the scoring with just 58 seconds left in the first period. Coming out of the penalty box after serving a minor penalty, Hartnell accepted a long pass from Simon Gagne to go in alone on Miller. Hartnell made a quick move before lifting a backhander over Miller’s left shoulder for his fifth of the season.
The Sabres thought they tied it with 14:20 to go in the third period when Drew Stafford redirected Derek Roy’s pass in tight. But after a video review, the goal was disallowed because Biron was able to keep the puck out while lying on his back.
Two minutes later, Jason Pominville hit the side of a gaping net before Carter made Buffalo pay, beating Miller with a bouncing-puck wrist shot from the top of the right circle that made it 2-0 with 11:41 to go.
Carter capped the scoring with his team-leading 13th into an empty net with a minute left.
Notes: Briere, along with Chris Drury, co-captained Buffalo for two years starting in 2005. … The Sabres began a season-high four-game homestand. … Hartnell snapped a nine-game goal-less streak. … Gagne has a point in every game but two this season. … Buffalo drafted Biron in the first round of the 1995 draft. He’s 3-2-1 against the Sabres. … Buffalo has allowed eight consecutive goals over the past two games. … Carter has three goals in his last four games.