The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been this hot in more than 20 years.
The Sabres look to match their franchise record for consecutive regular season victories when they host the struggling Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.
Buffalo (5-0-0) has won its last 10 regular season games, one shy of the team record set at the end of the 1974-75 season and the start of 1975-76. The Sabres, who last won 10 in a row in January 1984, haven’t opened a season 5-0 since winning their first eight games of ’75-76.
The Sabres are the only undefeated team in the Eastern Conference and one of just three, along with Dallas and Minnesota, in the NHL. They beat the New York Rangers 7-4 on Saturday, rallying from a two-goal deficit for the third time this season.
“That was probably as good as I’ve seen us play in the first five games,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “That looked like our team, the way we skated and the type of chances we created.”
Chris Drury recorded his first career hat trick in his 556th NHL game and added an assist for a career high-tying four points.
Drury, who led the Sabres with 30 goals last season, has 11 goals and six assists during Buffalo’s 10-game win streak. He has recorded a point in each of Buffalo’s five games this season, scoring a goal in four.
“It’s not something I’ve been sitting up and thinking about. It’s just one of those things that you never know,” Drury said of his first three-goal game. “I’m certainly glad it came in a win, and a comeback win in our building.”
Ryan Miller has been in goal for all but one of Buffalo’s games this season and owns a 2.83 goals-against average.
The Sabres beat the Flyers in six games in the first round of last season’s playoffs, en route to the conference finals where they lost in seven games to eventual Stanley Cup champion Carolina. Buffalo won all three games at home against Philadelphia in that series, and is 6-1-1 in its last eight regular season home games against the Flyers, dating back to the start of the 2001-02 season.
Philadelphia (1-3-1) has managed just 11 goals this season and is coming off Saturday’s 3-2 loss at New Jersey. Mike Knuble scored both goals for Philadelphia, whose only win came last Tuesday against the New York Rangers.
“It’s not like we’re playing poorly, but we are cracking at certain periods of time, and yesterday was another example,” coach Ken Hitchcock said Sunday. “We had a 2-1 lead and had six or seven opportunities to build on it, and we didn’t take advantage or it. We left the door open, and they took advantage of it.”
Knuble’s first goal came on the power play for Philadelphia, which is 4-for-40 with the man advantage this season. The game was the first of a four-game road trip for the Flyers.
Antero Niittymaki has been in goal in the Flyers’ last four games, posting a 2.73 GAA. Hitchcock, however, said that he is leaning toward using Robert Esche, who stopped 17 shots in Philadelphia’s season-opening 4-0 loss at Pittsburgh, against the Sabres.