The Philadelphia Flyers got a few players back for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Defenseman Justin Braun and forwards Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and Jakub Voracek played in their first game in almost three weeks on Saturday.
They had quite the impact.
Braun played on the second pair with Travis Sanheim. He played the third-most minutes (21:19) overall and was behind only Sanheim (20:03) with 18:31 played at 5-on-5. He did an effective job in all three zones.
The three forwards also played pretty well. They were all on the same line and scored a goal that was a turning point in the game.
The Flyers held a 2-0 lead late in the second period, but they deserved a bigger one. They were controlling play and getting more chances, but they had yet to really break it open against the Sabres. It was nice for Shayne Gostisbehere to extend the lead to 2-0, making sure that one bad bounce wouldn’t get it tied back up.
They say that a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey and the third line made sure the Flyers would have a three-goal lead heading into the third period.
With the Sabres heading into the zone, Sanheim and Braun forced a shot wide. Braun then looked up and banked the puck around the boards to Voracek. Voracek reversed back towards his own net in order to open up a cross-ice passing lane to Lindblom. Lindblom saw Laughton speeding up the ice and hit him in stride with a quick pass. Laughton did the rest with a fantastic move to beat Carter Hutton.
Let’s watch it play out.
It’s a great passing play and an even better finish.
“Felt nice to contribute,” Scott Laughton said. “Obviously, really good play by Jakey along the wall then Oskar made a great play.”
This goal is a perfect example of subtle positioning in the defensive zone leading to big things. Voracek realizes that if the puck reaches him, he’ll have a Sabre on his back with no one to pass to.
Voracek smartly goes towards the puck and the passing lane is wide open to Lindblom.
Lindblom makes the quick pass to Laughton and he’s gone.
“It’s always fun to score and Laughts made a really sick move there,” Lindblom said. “As long as you help the team win I’m happy.”
The behind-the-net camera angle gives a great view of the entire play.
Braun moves the puck around, Voracek aggressively positions himself, and Lindblom feeds a perfect pass to Laughton. The filthy finish was just the cherry on top.
This trio clicking also gives the Flyers another line to work with. The top line (van Riemsdyk – Couturier – Farabee) has been playing well for a few games now and the second line (Giroux – Hayes – Patrick) has some chemistry as well. If this line can be the third line (or a similar configuration once Travis Konecny returns), the Flyers’ forward depth may finally start to show.
In 8:51 of ice time as a line at 5-on-5 play, the Oskar Lindblom – Scott Laughton – Jakub Voracek trio played pretty well. The Flyers out-attempted the Sabres 9-5, outshot them 6-2 and outscored them 1-0 with the trio on the ice.
“I think our line played good and I felt pretty good too,” Lindblom said. “We came in with good energy and we had a good start and tried to keep it going from there.”
But let’s get back to the turning point.
The goal gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead with 1:06 left in the second period. It really swung momentum in the Flyers’ favor even more and let them relax a bit heading into the third period.
Not only is that goal important for Saturday’s win, but it could have an impact on Sunday’s game as well. The Flyers were able to roll four lines in the third period. That should keep everyone fresher and ready to go less than 24 hours after this one ended.