BUFFALO, N.Y. – Facing a three-goal deficit for the second time in three games, the Philadelphia Flyers fought back and escaped with another road win thanks to Claude Giroux.
Giroux scored 2:27 into overtime, and the Flyers skated off with a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. Philadelphia trailed 3-0 in the first period, but grabbed a 4-3 lead before the second period was over.
The Flyers also climbed out of a three-goal hole on Friday at Anaheim and won on another overtime goal by Giroux, who added three assists against the Sabres.
“That’s the type of team we are, we don’t quit,” said Giroux, who surged to the top of the NHL scoring race with a four-point night. “We have a lot of character, and we’re having a lot of fun here. The second period we played our game, and the third period, too.”
Down 3-0 late in the first period, the Flyers cranked up their offence against a Sabres squad that has struggled at home. Philadelphia (16-7-3) scored four times on 10 shots bridging the first and second periods and went on to win their third straight.
Rookie Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, and Jaromir Jagr scored in the second period, and Maxime Talbot added a goal with 1 second left in the first.
“It’s something you don’t want to do, get behind three goals, because sooner or later it’s going to come back and become a bad loss,” Hartnell said. “But there was lots of hockey left, and we kept going. As the game went on, we got stronger and stronger.”
Buffalo’s Drew Stafford sent the game into overtime with a goal with 1:35 left in regulation before Giroux’s second straight overtime winner. Giroux intercepted Marc-Andre Gragnani’s errant pass in the Philadelphia zone and raced up ice on a breakaway before slipping the puck between Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller’s legs on a nifty deke.
“I was just trying to freeze him and try and find a hole,” said Giroux, who has 36 points this season.
Gragnani said he didn’t notice Giroux sneaking into the passing lane.
“I’ll take the blame for that,” Gragnani said. “If I saw him, I wouldn’t try that pass.”
Ilya Bryzgalov made 20 saves for Philadelphia, which will host Pittsburgh on Thursday in the first meeting this season between the in-state rivals. The Penguins lead the Flyers by a point in the Atlantic Division.
“We don’t ever seem to back off, or say, ‘Not tonight,'” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Guys keep fighting for it, which is impressive.”
Zack Kassian had a goal and an assist, and Ville Leino and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Sabres (14-11-2), who have lost three of four.
Miller, playing in his second game after returning from a concussion and neck injury, stopped 29 shots, but was unable to come up with one more big save at the end.
“I kind of got a little stuck on what move he was going to make, and he made it count,” Miller said.
The Flyers are an NHL-best 10-3-1 on the road. Buffalo has lost six of its last seven at home (1-4-2).
“It’s been a problem at home,” Gragnani said. “We need to fix it.”
After Buffalo blew its lead and fell behind, Stafford scored his fifth goal of the season after the Sabres pulled Miller for an extra attacker.
The Flyers got within 3-2 at 5:17 of the second when Read deflected defenceman Kimmo Timonen’s slap shot from the left point and sent the puck squirting past Miller.
Hartnell tied it at 3-3 with 5:05 to go in the second when his wrist shot from the right faceoff dot deflected in off the skate of defenceman Christian Ehrhoff.
Jagr gave the Flyers their first lead with his ninth goal with 2:12 left in the second, wristing in a shot from the left circle to make it 4-3.
Former Flyers forward Leino staked the Sabres to a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal midway through the first period, capping a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play with Kassian and Luke Adam.
Buffalo doubled its advantage on Kassian’s third of the season, and Vanek made it 3-0 just 42 seconds later with a power-play goal.
Talbot cut the deficit to 3-1 with his seventh goal with just one second remaining in the first period.
NOTES: Philadelphia LW James van Riemsdyk returned after missing four games with an undisclosed upper body injury. … The Flyers are in a stretch of 11 of 14 on the road. … Buffalo opened a five-game homestand. … Buffalo C Paul Gaustad missed his first game with an undisclosed upper body injury after he was hurt in a pileup that ensued after Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo charged into Miller on Saturday. … The Sabres are without seven injured regulars. … Buffalo LW Nathan Gerbe left early in the second period after he was checked into the boards from behind at the red line by Philadelphia D Marc-Andre Bourdon. Gerbe didn’t return because of what the Sabres called an upper body injury. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff hinted the injury could be related to Gerbe’s head.