PHILADELPHIA — James van Riemsdyk scored twice and the Philadelphia Flyers took advantage of some sloppy defence and a strong power play to beat the short-handed Buffalo Sabres 6-1 Thursday night.
The Sabres were without captain Jack Eichel, the NHL’s second-leading goal scorer who was a late scratch after participating in pregame workouts with what was called an upper-body injury. The scratch put an end to Eichel’s 17-game point scoring streak — the league’s longest this season — because the NHL does not allow point streaks to continue because of missed games.
The night got worse from there for Buffalo, who deflected three shots past goaltender Carter Hutton to assist the Philadelphia rout.
Van Riemsdyk recorded his second two-goal game of the season. Mikhail Vorobyev, Matt Niskanen, Ivan Provorov and Tyler Pitlick were credited with goals for Philadelphia, who put 29 shots on Hutton in the victory. The Flyers were 3 for 5 with the man advantage Thursday.
On the opposite end, Flyers goaltender Carter Hart saw light action for most of the night during a 16-save performance.
Victor Olofsson added his 15th goal midway through the third period for the Sabres, preventing the shutout. Hutton finished with 22 saves.
Philadelphia scored three times in a four-minute stretch midway through the first period. Vorobyev’s centring pass to a cutting Shayne Gostisbehere hit the stick of Connor Sheary — the late addition to the Buffalo lineup when Eichel was scratched — before sliding into the right side of the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead.
Van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 when he was able to bounce the puck off his skate and into the empty side of the net. Niskanen added a power-play goal a minute and a half later when he found an open net on a one-timer following a drop pass from Kevin Hayes.
Provorov added a second power-play goal on a wrist shot from the point, scoring past a screened Hutton. A minute later, Pitlick was credited with his third goal of the year when Sabres defenceman Henri Jokiharju deflected a rebound back into the net with his stick.
Van Riemsdyk’s second goal was the third Philadelphia power-play goal of the game, deflecting off the skate of Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen.
Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom — diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on Dec. 13 — issued his first public statement about his condition via his Instagram account. “The last week has been very challenging for me, but I’m so happy for all the love and strength you all are giving me on this journey,” Lindblom said. “The support has been unreal and we are so thankful for everything — big thanks to all of you, it means a lot.” Lindblom, 23, has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the bone or the soft tissue. He is undergoing chemotherapy and will miss the rest of the season. … Eichel’s point scoring streak fell one short of the Sabres’ franchise record of 18 games set by Gilbert Perreault, who scored in 18 straight games from Oct. 24 to Dec. 4, 1971. Eichel’s streak is tied with Dave Andreychuk, who twice had scored in 17 straight games for the Sabres. … Philadelphia is now 12-2-4 at home this season. … Olofsson’s 15 goals leads all NHL rookies. He now has a five-game point scoring streak.
Sabres: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon.
Flyers: Visit Ottawa on Saturday night.
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Kevin Cooney, The Associated Press