Crisis averted ... sort of.
The Flyers' 22-year-old franchise goalie had to be yanked for the third time this season and the team needed a comeback to just narrowly edge the hapless Sabres, 5-4, in a shootout Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Buffalo came to Philadelphia with an NHL-low 15 points, seven straight losses and no Jack Eichel in the lineup.
The Flyers showed some guts by overcoming a pair of two-goal deficits to avoid a third straight loss. Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick scored in the skills competition to give the Flyers (13-7-3) their first shootout win of the season.
The Sabres (6-14-4), without their star 24-year-old center because of his upper-body injury, saw their losing skid grow to eight games.
• Carter Hart has not been himself and the Flyers need him to get right. They can help him get right, too.
But there's no other way to put: Hart looked out of sorts Tuesday night. He didn't give the Flyers much of a chance and was pulled for the third time this season. In 15 starts, Hart is 6-5-3 with a 3.61 goals-against average.
Brian Elliott, who entered the game 15-2-2 with a 1.69 goals-against average and .944 save percentage lifetime against Buffalo, converted 11 saves on 12 shots over the final two periods for his seventh win.
To begin the season, Hart was pegged as one of the most important players to the Flyers' chances at a postseason run. He hasn't played like the 2019-20 Hart. The positives for the Flyers are that they have two good goalies, Hart is only 22 years old and he cares a lot.
• Shayne Gostisbehere scored his fourth goal in the last eight games to force overtime. The marker came on the power play with under six minutes left in regulation.
Gostisbehere had five goals in 42 games last season.
This has been a huge run for him and his playmaking confidence.
• Showing urgency against a beaten up opponent, the Flyers hit Buffalo with an early jab when James van Riemsdyk opened the game's scoring 1:56 into the action.
Things quickly turned when Scott Laughton was turned upside down six seconds after van Riemsdyk's goal. Directly off a faceoff with Curtis Lazar, Laughton was awkwardly flipped and slammed headfirst into the ice by the Sabres' center. It appeared that both players were tangled up after a competitive draw but Lazar had something extra.
Laughton was forced to leave the game but came back later in the first period. When he returned with six and a half minutes left in the frame, Buffalo had a 2-1 lead. Sam Reinhart then scored his second goal of the opening stanza and the Flyers were in a 3-1 hole at first intermission.
On Riley Sheahan's 2-1 goal, the Sabres' winger was left alone in the slot and backhanded a shot past Hart. On the 3-1 goal, Reinhart camped out in the slot area for a point-blank look.
Hart was out of the pipes when the second period commenced.
• The Flyers were fortunate Laughton was OK. They were already down a forward as Michael Raffl missed a second straight game with a swollen right hand. Head coach Alain Vigneault decided to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Erik Gustafsson was the seventh blueliner as Connor Bunnaman sat.
Laughton was his usual reliable self and set up Kevin Hayes' 3-2 goal with a highlight-reel assist.
• The Flyers' power play finished 1 for 4 and Claude Giroux's second-period goal came just as a man advantage opportunity expired. The Flyers will take it. Their power play was 6 for 47 since Feb. 1 coming into the game.
The power play essentially got the Flyers their third and fourth goals of the comeback.
• The Flyers finish their four-game homestand with matchups against the Capitals on Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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