No Jack Eichel in Buffalo’s lineup?
No sweat for the Flyers in a mismatch Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Without the electric Eichel, who took part in the pregame warmups and then was scratched from the lineup because of an undisclosed injury, the Flyers rolled past the Sabres, 6-1.
James van Riemsdyk had a pair of goals and Travis Konecny had three assists as the Flyers cruised, equaling their most lopsided victory of the season.
“Pucks were just going through and we were getting good looks,” Konecny said.
After a slow start, some tough luck, and a demotion to the fourth line for nine games, van Riemsdyk has moved up in the lineup. He now has 10 goals, including six in the last 10 games.
“It’s funny, on both my goals tonight, they weren’t even shots on net,” he said. “Things go like that sometimes. Our line [with Kevin Hayes and Nic Aube-Kubel] the last two games has done a good job of playing off each other.”
Carter Hart was forced to make just 17 saves and came within 8 minutes, 25 seconds of recording the second shutout of his career. He is now 10-1-2 in games this season at home, where his goals-against average is around 1.50.
The Flyers are 12-2-4 at home. They didn’t get their 12th home win last season until early February.
Buffalo missed Eichel, who went into the night second in the NHL in goals (24) and fifth in points (50). He had points in 17 straight games.
“We found out he was out after warmups,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “He’s a great player, but he can’t do everything by himself. They’re still a good team and we wanted to come out from the very first minute and play our game -- and that’s what we did."
The Flyers built a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by Misha Vorobyev (second of his career), van Riemsdyk, and Matt Niskanen (power play) and never looked back.
Hayes set up the latter two goals for the Flyers, who had been outscored, 8-3, in their previous eight first periods.
Hayes “really did it all on that play,” Niskanen said about his goal, scored from the right circle. “He found the loose puck, [had] good deception, and he finds me across the ice. .. and takes a guy out. I just didn’t want to screw it up.”
The Flyers (19-11-5) got the power play after Buffalo (16-13-7) unsuccessfully challenged for goalie interference on van Riemsdyk’s goal.
“That gave us a big boost and we capitalized,” Niskanen, who had two points, said of the delay-of-game penalty.
Vorobyev’s goal, which started the onslaught against Carter Hutton, bounced off Buffalo’s Connor Sheary and into the net. That triggered a three-goal outburst in a 4:01 span.
The second period was more of the same. Again the Flyers had a 3-0 domination. Again they got fortuitous bounces. Again they outworked the Sabres.
Provorov and van Riemsdyk sandwiched power-play goals between a Tyler Pitick tally. The goals by Pitlick and van Riemsdyk deflected off Sabres. (Pitlick returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sinus/head problem.)
Van Riemsdyk, who had the 27th multi-goal game of his career, set a screen on Provorov’s eighth tally. Provorov had just seven goals all last season.
The Flyers had three power-play goals. They had just one power play goal over their previous eight games, going 1-for-18 in that span. They went 3-for-5 Thursday.
Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson scored on a power-play deflection with 8:25 left in the third to end Hart’s shutout bid.
Hart spent most of the night watching the Flyers swarm down Buffalo’s end.
“I kind of felt bad for their goalie,” he said of Hutton. “They weren’t playing a lot of defense. I mean, he was doing everything he could to keep them in the game. But you know what? We fired a lot at the net and created a lot of offense."