The way things are going, it's a good night for the Philadelphia Flyers when they don't lose.
Take Sunday night's 1-1 tie with the Buffalo Sabres. The Flyers will take it, thanks.
A point is nice, but two would be better.
"We'd like to turn our ties into wins," said Flyers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, whose team had lost its previous five road games and now has won just one of its last 10 games.
The Flyers were coming off a 3-3 tie with the New York Islanders at home in which they scored all three goals in the last 3:06 of the game.
That game snapped a five-game losing streak. But even while earning a point against Buffalo, the Flyers extended their winless streak to seven games (0-5-2).
"It was a great comeback the other night," Flyers coach Roger Neilson said. "We seem to be on our way now."
Philadelphia's Valeri Zelepukin broke a scoreless tie midway through the third period, but the Flyers gave up a late goal to Buffalo's Darryl Shannon.
An apparent goal by Philadelphia's John LeClair on a wraparound 37 seconds after the Zelepukin score was disallowed when LeClair was whistled for interference on the play. "I had the puck," said an exasperated LeClair, who claimed that he was being held on the play. "We have to do what we have to do to get free."
Zelepukin broke in with a pass from Mikael Renberg for the first goal at 9:07 of the third. Shannon scored a few minutes later when he knocked in a loose puck after a shot by Curtis Brown popped out of Vanbiesbrouck's glove.
"We had the edge in play, but the Sabres have a knack for getting good quality chances at key times," Vanbiesbrouck said.
Buffalo rookie goalie Martin Biron made 30 saves in place of injured superstar Dominik Hasek. Vanbiesbrouck made 21 stops, including two in overtime.
The Sabres built a defensive shell around Biron and the pricwas a dearth of offense that included three shots on six power plays. A Buffalo power play in overtime produced no shots.
"For the most part we just sat back and wanted to make sure we weren't giving them much," Sabres forward Michael Peca said. "They were getting a lot of shots from the perimeter, but they weren't getting many good scoring opportunities."
For the Sabres the good news was that Biron has proven to be a capable temporary replacement for Hasek, who continued to nurse a strained groin.
The Flyers outshot the Sabres 10-3 in the first period and 12-8 in the second. Biron came up with some big saves just as he had in backstopping a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars in his first NHL start of the season on Friday. "Against Dallas and Philadelphia, that's a darn good showing," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
"What can you say about Marty?" Peca said. "He played a great game for us again. He's showing a lot of poise back there."
Biron stopped a partial breakaway by LeClair with 11 minutes left in the second period. He also snagged a shot by Lindros in front three minutes later.
"He played the puck extremely well," Ruff said. "He's in such good position that he doesn't even have to make the save; the puck's going to hit him."
Buffalo had two good chances to score on a power play in the second period after Keith Jones went off for hooking Peca. Vanbiesbrouck stopped Peca's blast from the right wing and gloved Vaclav Varada's one-timer. With three minutes left in the second period, a shot by Peca hit the post on Vanbiesbrouck's stick side.
Vanbiesbrouck stopped a point-blank shot by Peca late in the third period. "He got lucky a couple times, but he did make some big saves when he had to," Peca said.
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