By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Two minutes into the game, the Flyers were off to the start many expected against the struggling Buffalo Sabres. Then their own struggles continued and they found themselves trailing. A miserable first period ended with the Flyers down two goals to a team without its top player on a seven-game losing streak.
It took until late in the third period for the Flyers to complete the rally, but they did and forced overtime. The game required a shootout, and the Flyers scored on both attempts to complete the comeback and pick up a 5-4 win over the Sabres on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The game started off with a bang for the Flyers. Just 1:56 into the game, Sean Couturier won a battle and got the puck to Joel Farabee with space. Farabee set up James van Riemsdyk across the slot and he one-timed the shot past Jonas Johansson to make it 1-0 Flyers.
Less than three minutes later, the Sabres provided an answer. A blown coverage allowed Sam Reinhart to get alone in the slot and he fired high to the glove side of Carter Hart to even things up at one.
Just over five minutes later, positioning around the net allowed the Sabres to score again. After Eric Staal drove the net, a loose puck came back to Riley Sheahan, who was able to unleash a backhander to make it 2-1 at 9:39.
Exactly seven minutes later, Reinhart struck again, once again being left alone in front of the net. Reinhart went upstairs again to make it 3-1 with 3:21 remaining in the period.
Late in the period, Couturier drew a high-sticking penalty, but the Flyers were unable to do anything with the first 57 seconds as the period came to a close. Through 20 minutes, shots were 9-8 Flyers.
Hart's night in net was over after the first. He allowed three goals on eight shots. Brian Elliott was on for the second.
The Flyers did not score on the remainder of the power play to start the second, but they did get another early goal in the period. At 2:58, Scott Laughton set up Kevin Hayes for a goal to cut the lead to one.
Less than four minutes later, the Sabres got it back. Brandon Montour took a shot from a sharp angle that hit the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere and rode up, beating Elliott top-shelf to make it 4-2 at 6:20.
The Flyers had another power play to cut into the lead, but failed to score. They forced another power play moments later, and just as the penalty expired, they found a way to strike.
Jake Voracek set up Claude Giroux in front to cut the lead back to one with 4:55 remaining in the period.
Through two periods, the Flyers had a 21-14 lead in shots.
The Flyers generated most of the chances in the third, but were simply unable to solve Johansson for most of the period. They finally got their chance with just under seven minutes to play, as the Sabres took another penalty to put them back on the power play.
Finally, the Flyers took advantage. A long-range slap shot from Gostisbehere was able to beat Johansson and tie the game up at four with 5:46 to play.
With 2:24 remaining, the Flyers had to survive a huge test as Voracek took a tripping penalty. The Flyers managed to kill it off and get the game to overtime.
The best chance in the overtime came in the opening minute, as Couturier got a breakaway and was stopped by Johansson. The Sabres held possession for most of the overtime, but didn't get many quality looks for a shot. The game headed to a shootout.
The Flyers elected to shoot first and got goals in each of the first two rounds from Couturier and Nolan Patrick. Elliott stood tall at the other end on Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt on the first two Buffalo shots, finishing off the comeback win.
Elliott made 11 saves on 12 shots in relief of Hart. Johansson made 29 saves on 33 shots in the loss.
Couturier and Farabee each finished with two assists. In addition to Reinhart's two-goal game, Taylor Hall had two assists.
The Flyers get back on the ice on Thursday night, when they welcome the Washington Capitals back to Philadelphia. Game time is 7 p.m.