Flyers power play could find opening vs. Sabres

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Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol during a timeout against the Tampa Ray Lightning.

BUFFALO - The Flyers play in Buffalo on Tuesday night, and one of their goals is to get off to a better start than the last time they met the Sabres two-plus months ago.

In that Oct. 25 game at the Wells Fargo Center, Buffalo built a 3-0 lead before the Flyers rallied for three third-period goals en route to a 4-3 shootout win.

Travis Konecny started the comeback with his first NHL goal.

The Sabres (15-15-9) have been the definition of mediocrity, but they have made modest strides recently. Trailing by 3-1 in the third period on Saturday, Buffalo scored three goals in a 4-minute, 42-second span to earn a 4-3 win over Winnipeg.

"It has the feel of a turnaround game," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told reporters. "We needed that in the game and we got it; it's a big way to respond in the third period and we left it all out there. . . . It feels like a big game for us."

Actually, Buffalo had already started a mini-turnaround. After losing six of seven, the Sabres posted a 4-1 win in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers, then salvaged a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at Chicago before rallying past the Jets.

The Sabres have collected five out of a possible six points in their last three games.

The Flyers (21-15-6), who have lost eight of their last 10 games, need to exploit Buffalo's league-worst penalty kill, which is clicking at just 74.3 percent.

Then again, the Flyers' power play, which had been among the best in the NHL, has taken a major step backward lately. In their last 12 games, they are just 3 for 32 (9.4 percent).

The Flyers have shown some positive signs in five-on-five situations in the last two games, outscoring opponents, 5-3.

"We've tightened it up a lot, and obviously both goalies have played well in the last two games," right winger Wayne Simmonds said after Sunday's 2-1 overtime loss in Columbus, a contest in which both teams were battling fatigue from playing on back-to-back dates. "I think it starts there and goes out [to other teammates]. We were protecting the front of the net real well and not giving up too much in the slot" until the overtime.

Honoring Flyers Wives

The Flyers Wives Fight for Lives will receive the Ed Snider Lifetime Humanitarian Award at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association's 113th annual dinner on Feb. 3 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill.

Flyers Charities has raised more than $27 million for local charities in the last 40 years.

Lindy Snider, daughter of Ed Snider, the Flyers' late chairman, will present the award, which will be accepted by Doreen Holmgren, Diane Hextall, Crystal Corey, and Linda Mantai.

Among the honorees at the banquet: Eric Lindros (Living Legend) and Shayne Gostisbehere, who will accept the city's pro athlete of the year honor for his sensational rookie season.

Tickets are available at www.phillysportswriters.com or at 267-546-7277.

Prospect moving on

Russian prospect German Rubstov's contract was terminated with his KHL team, and he is expected to join Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League next week after he has surgery to repair a broken nose.

Rubstov was the Flyers' No. 1 draft pick in June.

Breakaways

Defenseman Radko Gudas is hobbled by several nagging injuries and has been noticeably less aggressive in recent games. . . . The Flyers have allowed the first goal in the last five games. . . . Claude Giroux, who scored the shootout winner in the last meeting with Buffalo, has just one goal in his last 13 games. Giroux has had Matt Read as his right winger for most of the last two games, but coach Dave Hakstol moved Giroux back with Jake Voracek in the third period Sunday in Columbus. . . . Kyle Okposo leads the Sabres in goals (12) and points (27).

scarchidi@phillynews.com

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