NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
The odds remain stacked against the Philadelphia Flyers making the playoffs, but if they want to make a surge, they need to mop up games like Sunday’s match against the Buffalo Sabres.
Philly will display something of a new look on Sunday, as they get some players back from injuries and/or illnesses. Michael Raffl looks like he’ll return to his spot on the Flyers’ vaunted first line while Braydon Coburn should eat up some key minutes on defense.
It’s not the only situation to watch, however, as Zach Bogosian readies for his Sabres debut after the blockbuster Tyler Myers – Evander Kane trade.
Buffalo looks to roll with Michal Neuvirth tonight while the Flyers will go as far as Ray Emery can take them, at least until Steve Mason can return from his knee injury.
(Some believe the Flyers should shut down Mason altogether in 2014-15.)
Can the Flyers lock up two crucial points or will the Sabres play the role of spoiler? We’ll see on NBCSN on Sunday night.
Just a few days ago, forward Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers were on the worst team in the NHL, then the Buffalo Sabres dealt them to the Winnipeg Jets as part of the Evander Kane trade and suddenly they found themselves with an opportunity to play in the postseason. Stafford and Myers did everything they could to make the most of that chance tonight as they played a key role in the Jets’ 5-4 shootout victory over Detroit.
Myers logged 22:57 minutes and recorded two assists. His first was particularly noteworthy as it was the byproduct of a nice drive on his part that Blake Wheeler ultimately capitalized on.
His second assist came on Stafford’s first goal with Winnipeg, which was an odd one that Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard really should have stopped.
Stafford’s bigger contribution came much later when he fired the deciding shot in the shootout.
Winnipeg has now won three of its last four contests to maintain its five-point cushion over the Minnesota Wild in the battle for a postseason berth.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was starting for the first time since sustaining a groin injury and kicked out 34 of 38 shots. He’s already been confirmed as the starter for Monday’s game against Montreal, per MLive.com writer Ansar Khan. Detroit will be taking a two-game losing streak into that rivalry contest.
Howard returns from groin injury
Jimmy Howard will make his first start since Jan. 10 tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Winnipeg Jets. Howard missed 10 games with a groin injury. He made four saves in relief of Petr Mrazec on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Howard is 16-7-7 with a 2.09 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage this season.
Michael Hutchinson is expected to start for the Jets.
Maple Leafs at Canadiens: Jonathan Bernier vs. Carey Price
Blue Jackets at Islanders: Anton Forsberg vs. Jaroslav Halak
Rangers at Coyotes: Cam Talbot vs. Mike Smith
Hurricanes at Wild: Anton Khudobin vs. Devan Dubnyk
Devils at Predators: Cory Schneider vs. Pekka Rinne
Stars at Avalanche: Jhonas Enroth vs. Semyon Varlamov
Canucks at Flames: Ryan Miller vs. Karri Ramo
Capitals at Kings: Braden Holtby vs. Jonathan Quick
Wayne Simmonds’ power play goal at 5:04 of the third period gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead Friday night.
The Flyers appeared headed for a win.
However, Jared Boll and Cam Atkinson scored to tie it 3-3 forcing overtime and Artem Anisimov netted the winner at 2:17 of the extra period.
It was the second time in as many meetings Columbus edged Philly in overtime.
The Jackets have now won three of four meetings between the two clubs.
“It’s pretty embarrassing,” said Sean Couturier per CSNPhilly.com. “We’re in the playoff hunt. You can’t have an effort like that. We’re not gonna go far if we play like that.
“If we want to, we can be one of the best teams in the league. We gotta play our game and start putting pressure and pucks on net and tight defense. The last two games have been pretty embarrassing the way we lose these games.”
It was the second time this week the Flyers have squandered a third period lead and lost in overtime.
On Tuesday night Philly was up 1-0 in the third on the Montreal Canadiens. Tomas Plekanec scored with less than eight minutes remaining and David Desharnais won it in overtime.
“There’s something wrong with losing these games the way we’re losing them,” Couturier said. “We got to fix what’s wrong and play better for 60 minutes. It’s not a 40- or 45-minute game.”
The Flyers are currently seven points back of Boston for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia will look to avoid a third straight loss Sunday when they visit Buffalo. The Flyers won the only other meeting between the two clubs 4-3 on Jan. 17.
News and notes from around the crease…
His name is Jhonas
Kari Lehtonen will begin life on a short leash tonight against Florida — he’ll start against the Panthers, but will have newly acquired backup Jhonas Enroth on the bench for the first time since GM Jim Nill acquired him from Buffalo on Wednesday.
Lehtonen, who has been criticized this year for his uneven play, is 4-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage since the All-Star break — decent numbers, but hardly the type Dallas needs as it looks to get back into a playoff position.
Per Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, Enroth will “likely” play at some point this weekend. Based on that, he’ll probably be in goal tomorrow when Dallas takes on the Avs in Colorado.
For Florida, sounds like Al Montoya is likely for tonight’s affair.
Flyers at Jackets: Ray Emery vs. Curtis McElhinney
Devils at ‘Hawks: Cory Schneider vs. Corey Crawford
Sharks at Coyotes: Antti Niemi vs. Mike Smith
Bruins at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, no word yet on a Bruins starter.