Seemingly down and out, the Buffalo Sabres battled back to pick up two big points on Tuesday. Now they just hope that their second-half surge hasn't been all for naught.
The Sabres look to extend their playoff chase for a few more days as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers, whose most recent loss has them on the verge of opening the postseason on the road.
Looking to move into a tie with the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres quickly fell behind by three goals following the first period of Tuesday's game against the Maple Leafs. Buffalo, though, didn't quit and scored twice in the second period and eventually took their first and only lead of the game when Derek Roy scored for the second time in the contest at 3:29 of overtime for a thrilling 6-5 victory.
Roy's 17th goal of the season came on the power play and Alexander Sulzer also scored twice and notched an assist for the Sabres, who also got goals from Jordan Leopold and Tyler Ennis -- who has seven points in his past four games -- as well as 20 saves from Ryan Miller.
"That was a hell of a way to win it," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said. "That game had everything. After the first period, our goal was to go out and get a goal in the first 10 minutes, get back in the hockey game."
Buffalo has won six of its past eight and is 8-2-2 in its last 12 as well as 20-7-5 in its past 32 games. That has given the Sabres 88 points on the season, the same number as the Capitals, who own the tiebreaker with four more non-shootout wins and hosts the Panthers tonight. Both Buffalo and Washington have two games remaining, with the Sabres set to visit Boston on Saturday.
The Sabres' blue line will remain shorthanded. Already without Christian Ehrhoff due to a left knee injury, Tyler Myers isn't expected to suit up for the final two regular season outings because of a foot injury that has already held him out of the past two games.
Unlike the Sabres, the Flyers have already punched their playoff ticket and are battling with the Penguins for the fourth seed in the East, which comes with home-ice advantage in the opening round. Philadelphia pulled to within a point of that position with a win at Pittsburgh on Sunday, but saw the deficit go back to three with Tuesday's 5-3 setback to the Rangers coupled with the Pens' win at Boston on the same night.
The Flyers end their regular season on Saturday in Pittsburgh and can assure they will finish no lower than the fifth seed with at least a point in this matchup.
Philadelphia fell behind by four goals by the end of the first period on Tuesday versus New York before getting tallies from Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell, who potted his team-leading 37th goal of the campaign. That's the most by a Flyer since Jeff Carter scored 46 in 2008-09.
Simmonds, meanwhile, has scored a goal in five straight games, totaling six goals and an assist in that span.
Claude Giroux added three assists in defeat, and his 92 points are the most by a Flyer since Eric Lindros posted 93 points during the 1998-99 season. Still, Philadelphia couldn't avoid falling behind by at least a 2-0 score for the seventh time in 10 games. The Flyers are 5-3-2 in that span.
"Again, it's the same story. We've got to find a way to get a better start," said Giroux. "I don't know what we've got to do. Drink one more cup of coffee? I don't know."
Though goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the league's First Star for the month of March, returned after missing three games due to a chip fracture in his right foot and made 19 saves, the Flyers were without forward Danny Briere (upper back contusion) and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (lower body) due to injuries suffered versus the Penguins. Neither are expected back until the postseason.
The Flyers have won all three of their meetings with the Sabres this season, including a 7-2 win when the clubs last met in Philadelphia on Feb. 16. Hartnell had four points and Giroux logged a career-high five assists in the rout, with Giroux having notched 10 points in the three meetings this season.
Philadelphia also eliminated Buffalo in seven games of the first round of last year's playoffs.