PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Daniel Briere wiped out Philadelphia’s lead in regulation, and his quick goal never gave the Flyers a chance in overtime.
No matter if it’s a blowout or a tight one, postseason or regular season, Buffalo sure has a knack for sticking it to the Flyers.
Briere scored on a slap shot 21 seconds into overtime to lift the Sabres to a 5-4 win over the last-place Flyers on Saturday night.
The power-play goal was Briere’s second of the game, sending the Sabres to their third straight overtime win and second in two nights.
“I knew if I could keep it inside the post, I had a chance to find the back of the net,” Briere said.
Briere found the back of the net and yet another way to extend Philadelphia’s misery.
Randy Robitaille scored twice for the Flyers, who lost their fifth straight game.
Philadelphia seemed poised to pull one out against an Eastern Conference rival after scoring three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. However, with 2:59 left in regulation, Briere knocked a rebound past a diving Antero Niittymaki to tie the score.
The Sabres have tormented the Flyers since knocking them out of the first round of the playoffs last season. In October, Buffalo embarrassed the Flyers 9-1, scoring six goals in a second-period outburst, a loss that was the catalyst for general manager Bob Clarke’s resignation and the firing of coach Ken Hitchcock.
The season only got worse for the Flyers, who entered with the fewest points and wins in the NHL.
“There was a lot of motivation,” Robitaille said. “Losing by that margin in professional sports is embarrassing.”
And Philadelphia played this one without captain Peter Forsberg, still struggling to find an answer to the skate problem that’s causing him discomfort to his surgically repaired right ankle.
For a while, it looked like more of the same blowout result. The Sabres scored three straight goals over the first and second periods to grab a 3-1 lead.
However, Philadelphia played with an energy and intensity that’s been missing most of this season. They also showed up with a bit more aggression as Triston Grant, Mike Richards and Ben Eager all got in some punches—and 5-minute majors—in three fights that energized the team.
“It was old Flyers hockey,” R.J. Umberger said. “That’s how we’ve got to play, to go back to our roots.”
Alex Picard started the comeback with his first NHL goal late in the second, with his shot from the point just slipping through inside the left post.
Umberger tied the score at 3-all only 20 seconds into the third when he put a wrist shot right through Martin Biron’s pads for his fourth goal of the season. Biron had 26 saves.
Robitaille’s second goal came midway through the third period and capped the Flyers’ comeback. He redirected a pass into the net for his third goal of the season and a 4-3 lead.
But it was not enough.
“We weren’t going to back down,” Biron said. “We knew we had to respond to their physical play and really get in there. I think the fights sparked their team to come after us and play better.”
Goalie Robert Esche allowed nine goals on 37 shots and played the whole game in the 9-1 loss. Niittymaki was much better in this one, stopping 32 shots. He was strong early in the game, turning away a barrage of shots that perhaps inspired his teammates.
Once the Flyers finally got a chance on offense, Robitaille one-timed a power-play goal to make it 1-0 and give them a rare early lead.
The Flyers removed the interim tag from Paul Holmgren’s title and made him general manager for the rest of the season. Holmgren became interim general manager in late October after Clarke resigned. Holmgren said he doesn’t plan to trade Simon Gagne or Forsberg. … The Flyers recalled C Ryan Potulny from the Phantoms, their AHL affiliate. … D Denis Gauthier will have surgery Tuesday on his left shoulder. … The Los Angeles Kings claimed C Marty Murray off waivers from Philadelphia. The 31-year-old Murray had 15 points with the Phantoms. … Flyers C Petr Nedved went over the 400 career-assist mark.