The Flyers host Buffalo on Tuesday, knowing their dramatic win Saturday night over Pittsburgh won’t mean much if they can’t beat the Sabres.
“We’re in a situation where the most important game is the next one we have,” left winger James van Riemsdyk said after Monday’s practice in Voorhees. “Obviously we know how critical every point is.”
The Flyers are seven points out of a playoff spot with 20 games left. They are coming off a comeback win for the ages, Saturday’s 4-3 overtime victory at frenzied Lincoln Financial Field. The victory included two late goals in regulation with goalie Brian Elliott pulled for an extra attacker.
Tuesday’s game isn’t as sexy as the Stadium Series matchup, but it is just as important.
“We really have to maintain a one-game-at-a-time mentality,” interim coach Scott Gordon said. “We’ve been pretty good at that for the last month. With Buffalo, they’re looking at it as a do-or-die game, as I’m sure we are, too.”
The Sabres, one of many teams the Flyers are chasing in the crowed playoff race, took a 29-24-8 record into their game Monday in Toronto, and they are coming off an impressive 5-2 win over defending Stanley Cup champion Washington.
Elliott, who has a 2.54 goals-against average and .917 save percentage after registering Saturday’s win, will face the Sabres. He will become the fourth Flyers goalie to see action against Buffalo this season.
The Flyers (29-26-7) are on a 13-3-1 run. If they went, say, 16-4 the rest of the way, they would finish with 97 points, which is what it took to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs last year.
The Flyers are 1-1 against the Sabres this season, losing 5-2 (with an empty-net goal) and winning the rematch, 6-2. Both games were in Buffalo. In the Nov. 21 loss, Alex Lyon (four goals on 12 shots) was the starting goalie and was relieved by Cal Pickard after the first period.
In the Dec. 8 comeback win, Claude Giroux had four points (goal, three assists) and Anthony Stolarz stopped 28 shots of 30 shots to offset Jack Eichel’s two first-period goals for Buffalo.
Eichel entered Monday one goal shy of becoming the third player in franchise history to have four consecutive 20-goal seasons after debuting with the Sabres. The first two: Rick Martin (1971-75) and Thomas Vanek (2005-09).