PHILADELPHIA – When it comes to back-to-back games against the same opponent, what a difference a day makes.
Less than 24 hours after getting smoked by a 6-1 score courtesy of the Buffalo Sabres, it was the Flyers’ chance to return the favor on Tuesday night. They did just that, blanking the Sabres by a 3-0 score at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyer goalie Brian Elliott’s first start of the season proved a successful one. He saw action on Monday night in mop-up duty for Carter Hart and that bit of action might have helped Elliott shake off some rust. Elliott kicked aside all 40 shots he faced for his 41st career shutout.
“I think it’s nice to have a little playing time under the belt before you get your first start,’’ Elliott said after the game. “No matter how many years you play, you always want to start off on a good note.
“So I think it was good to get in there. Last (Monday) night was not what we wanted to put on the ice. I thought tonight the response was really good.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault seconded that assessment.
“One of the few (positive things) we saw in last (Monday) night’s game was the fact that he (Elliott) could get some work in,’’ Vigneault said. “Brian’s been excellent throughout the start of training camp, been working really hard.
“This might have been the first time in his last couple years where he’s healthy, been able to train and work out. He’s come focused, he’s come ready to play and help us win games.’’
Added Claude Giroux: “He made some huge saves for us to keep that game 0-0. He kept us in the game, he was battling out there, working his butt off. He’s probably the reason we won the game tonight.’’
Travis Konecny’s breakaway goal with 2:09 remaining in the second period broke a scoreless tie.
Oskar Lindblom triggered the play with a pinpoint lead pass from the Flyers’ defending blue line. He fired a cross-ice pass which hit the boards and Konecny picked up just inside the red line.
Konecny was off to the races. He zipped in on goalie Carter Hutton, deked on the backhand and sent a soft slider along the ice through Hutton’s pads.
It was Konecny’s fourth goal of the season, putting him into a tie for the NHL lead. Also, his six points were tied for the league lead, pending Tuesday night’s late-game action.
“The effort was definitely better tonight,’’ Konecny commented. “I think tonight we just didn’t panic, we stuck in it. It was a good game. We don’t want to trade chances so much like we did.
“It’s coming along. We still have a lot of things to touch on. ‘Moose’ (Elliott) kept us in there tonight and gave us a chance to capitalize later in the game.
In the third period, Jake Voracek finished off a two-on-one rush with Kevin Hayes, firing a puck past relief goalie Jonas Johansson at 13:43. The Flyers iced it with 1:42 left on an empty-netter from Hayes.
The Flyers got off to a rocky start, taking consecutive penalties which forced them to kill off 59 seconds of a five-on-three. But the Flyers managed to keep the quick-skating Sabres at bay.
>Frost, Myers injured
Morgan Frost left the ice in the second period after suffering what appeared to be an upper-body injury (possibly a wrist). He did not return to action. Defenseman Phil Myers was also injured and did not complete the game.
Vigneault said both players will undergo MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests on Wednesday.
>Vigneault on ironman streaks
Both Provorov and Giroux played in their 319th straight game on Tuesday night. They are tied for second place on the Flyers’ alltime list behind only Rod Brind’Amour’s 484.
Vigneault was asked to put those streaks in perspective.
“First of all, from my standpoint, I don’t think I’ve ever missed a game as far as coaching goes. That would be, I think I would be near 1,300.
“As far as the players, Provy and G playing that number of games, obviously that means they have played through pain. They’ve pushed themselves very hard to be able to play that consecutive number of games.’’