At the start of the 2006-2007 season, the Buffalo Sabres were off to a perfect 5-0 start as they prepared to host Philadelphia. Buffalo was winning close games via shootouts and overtime, but this game against the Flyers was nothing close to that.
Robert Esche and Ryan Miller held their ground in the first period, making it look like it would be a close game once again. Miller also stopped Mike Richards on a penalty shot in the first. The Sabres defeated the Flyers the previous postseason in six games on their way to the Conference Finals.
Less than a minute into the second period, Thomas Vanek scored on a backhand shot to give Buffalo the lead, something the Flyers would never see in this game. Halfway through the period, the barrage began for Buffalo.
Within seven and a half minutes, the Sabres scored five goals. Jaroslav Spacek and Chris Drury scored on back to back power plays, making it 3-0. Derek Roy and Henrik Tallinder build the lead up to five with goals of their own.
Maxim Afinogenov finished the second period scoring with a power play goal of his own, and the Sabres grabbed a 6-0 lead after two.
The third period wasn’t much different for both teams, except that Jeff Carter broke the shutout early on. 25 seconds later, Derek Roy responded with another Buffalo goal. Within the first three minutes of the third, Buffalo added another three goals.
Randy Robitaille was the only Flyer to have a positive plus/minus with a plus 1. Roy and Vanek each earned a plus five on the night.
After winning their first four games by one-goal margins, and three in shootouts, Buffalo has outscored its last two opponents 16-5. They beat the New York Rangers 7-4 the game before.
“We didn’t try to run it up,” said Chris Drury, who scored once to extend his point streak to six games (seven goals and three assists). “Coaches just kept preaching our system, and things just kept kind of clicking.”
It was the first meeting between the teams since Buffalo beat Philadelphia 7-1 in Game 6 to win last year’s first-round playoff series. And this was reminiscent of Buffalo’s 8-2 drubbing of the Flyers in Game 2 of that series. The Sabres again showed their speed was too much for Philadelphia’s plodding defense.
That was particularly evident when Afinogenov capped the second-period run. The speedy winger went end-to-end, maneuvered around a flat-footed Derian Hatcher, and jammed the puck past Esche.