The Buffalo Sabres had been waiting several seasons for any goalie in their organization to take that next step. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stole the show in this one, stopping 38 of 40 shots in the first of a home-and-home series that began Philadephia.
The game also featured rookie Brandon Biro scoring the first and second of his NHL career. The latter was an empty netter that sealed the win.
Tage Thompson earned 1 goal and two assists, while Alex Tuch added two assists. Owen Power, the Sabres’ second-year blueliner, broke the tie in the third for his first of the season. Thompson and Biro nailed the coffin shut, giving the Buffalo Sabres the 5-2 victory in a game the Sabres had been outplayed, including being outshot 20-15 over the final period.
Adding insult to injury, the Flyers also lost starting netminder Carter Hart to injury.
In the back half of the series, it was Philadelphia’s night to shine. They quickly skated past the Sabres, netting three unanswered in the third frame on their way to a 5-1 win, ending their three-game losing streak.
The two teams will decide on the rubber match on April 5.
Buffalo’s next outing will get underway on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Toronto Maple Leafs.