Buffalo Sabers were furious on their first break on Saturday and they definitely got a tie.
On a 2-0 hole after a sloppy opening 20 minutes, Cypress returned for four goals in a dominant second half. They continued to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, at the KeyBank Center for their second win in their last three games.
Buffalo (28-38-11) had strong goals from Kyle Okposo and Taj Thompson and equal goals from Rasmus Dahlin and Vinny Hinostrosa in the frame to equal the season’s highest level in a single period. They edged out Philadelphia, 18-3, and left the ice to a standing ovation from the 11,046 crowd.
The Sabers also had a four-goal run in their 6-3 win over the Flyers here on January 22. The last time he had two periods of at least four goals against one team in the same season was in 2009-10 against the Carolinas.
The Flyers have lost nine of their last 11 second-half games as Buffalo beat them, 18-3, showing their warts largely by leaping two goals in the first four minutes.
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Rasmus Dahlin blasted off after blocking a hard kick in the boards from Travis Konechny and receiving a retaliatory penalty kick. Alex Toch and Philly defender Travis Sanheim were nailed for a serendipitous mansion. The chirping was all over the ice and Kyle Okposo was buried in his knee by Taghi Thompson’s strike and he couldn’t finish the period.
It wasn’t us. I wasn’t happy, Okposo said. “I was steaming indoors and was really excited. And if I didn’t take that shot I might lose the marbles a little bit after the first, but it was great to see everyone pulling together and not using that negative energy.”
That was coach Don Granato’s brief message: stay tuned. Play better.
“At the end of the first period we were emotional and frustrated,” Dahlin admitted. “So Don was talking a lot about we have to go back and not be emotional. We used our emotions to our advantage and that’s what we did.”
Okposo opened the scoring for the Sabers by hitting the house with a Peyton Krebs feed on his 20th of the season at 3:17. Dahlin got No. 11 from Jeff Skinner’s cross-over pass on the ice at 8:27 to tie the game. Konechny beat Craig Anderson high under the bar with an easy goal at 14:27 but Buffalo went ahead. Vinny Hinostrosa scored a rebound at 15:36 and Thompson crushed the 34th home at 17:58 to break the tie.
Okposo celebrated his 34th birthday by scoring 20 goals for the first time since 2015-16 for the New York Islanders. He had only 11 combined in the past two seasons.
“It’s definitely a great number,” Okposo said. “It’s my first time in Buffalo to do that.” “It’s been a fun year to watch this group grow and feel like I’m collaborating in it. And I feel like I’m part of it. It’s just been so much fun playing with these guys. He came without me and just let me play for free and use the skills that got me here and I’ve used all my career. So Yes, sure a nice feather in the hat.”
“He’s huge,” Dahlin said. “He’s a boss. He’s back.” “He almost couldn’t move, so it was a big match for him. We are all very happy for him. He is a role model for us.”
Granato said he kept his talk brief, stepped back and watched his team go to work.
“They took over collectively, they were very responsible individually,” Granato said. “We’ve had guys even sit on the bench a bit, but somehow you’re going to do it like your brother. You go to him, and then on the next shift they’re there and they’re actually five times better than they were in the last shift. Because they push each other the right way. And that’s fun. To Watch. “
Here are some other notes about the game:
Rookie Owen Power continues to impress on Buffalo Balloon. In his third game, he scored equal on 22 minutes 59 seconds of ice time, with 4:18 of that on the penalty kick and time also spent at the end of the game when the Flyers lasted 6 at 5. He had no shots on goal, as He qualified well from Thompson on a chance in the third inning.
“I can’t mention Owen without (Henry) Jukiharjo, without mentioning Dahlen, without (Matthias) Samuelson,” Granato said. “…We are at a point in our season where the guys form together as a team, and they support each other really well. So, to include a talented player like Owen, there is a lot of support there. It relaxes me to put him in all these situations.”
Granato went with the modified frontlines he revealed in training on Friday, and there were plenty of wasted moments with the puck in the first period before groups found their way in the second. Skinner and Thompson stayed together and were joined by Victor Olofsson in the front row. Casey Mittelstadt was the center of Krebs and Tosh, Dylan Cousins was between Okposo and Rasmus Asplund, and Zymjus Jergensons played with Anders Björk and Hinostrosa.
• The Sabers beat the Flyers four times in a row for the first time since they won five times in a row from October 10, 2001 through October. 22, 2002. They have their first six consecutive points against Philly (4-0-2) since going 5-0-1 on December 7, 1989 – March 24, 1991.
• Anderson saved 18 saves to improve to 16-12-2 in the season and win his 307th game. He is behind retired Boston goalkeeper Touka Rusk to place 33 on the all-time list.
• Former Sabers defender Rasmus Restolainen (upper body) was one of several key pilots who missed the match due to injury.
• The biggest cheer in the first period was easy. That was when Bills quarterback Josh Allen was put on the Jumbotron and then fans sang “Shout.”
The teams headed to Philly after the game and will meet again at 5pm on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.