Read scores twice as Flyers down Sabres

The Flyers' Matt Read goes after the puck against Buffalo's Matt Moulson (left), goalie Ryan Miller and Jamie McBain. Read scored two goals1 minute and 40 seconds apart late in the second period as the surging Flyers stayed hot.
The Flyers' Matt Read goes after the puck against Buffalo's Matt Moulson (left), goalie Ryan Miller and Jamie McBain. Read scored two goals1 minute and 40 seconds apart late in the second period as the surging Flyers stayed hot. (                              YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 23, 2013

The Flyers' third line played like its No. 1 unit Thursday night.

Third-line winger Matt Read scored a pair of goals 1 minute and 40 seconds apart late in the second period, keying the Flyers' 4-1 win over the woeful Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.

Steve Downie and Sean Couturier had assists on both of Read's goals as the Flyers (9-10-2) increased their points streak to six games (5-0-1). They can get to .500 for the first time this season if they beat the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday.

Vinny Lecavalier, on a rocket from the top of the right circle, made it 3-1 with a power-play goal midway through the third period. Scott Hartnell later added an empty-net goal.

The Read-Couturier-Downie line is usually known for its defensive ability, but on Thursday it played a different role.

"They've been shutting the best lines down, but it's nice to get the offensive opportunities and get some goals," said Lecavalier, who leads the Flyers with eight goals. "They played great again."

During their points streak, the Flyers have allowed a total of eight goals in six games.

Prior to Read's fifth and sixth goals of the season, the Flyers had not severely tested goalie Ryan Miller (42 saves), and they weren't sharp on a pair of five-on-three power plays that totaled 2:03.

But after a mostly listless first 30 minutes, Read woke them up.

"The first period, we kind of got away from our system," Read said. "We were playing kind of like pond hockey. We weren't playing smart, physical hockey and getting pucks deep. We talked on the bench - Downie, Coots and I - and said 'Let's keep it simple and get pucks deep and go to work and things will go our way.' And in back-to-back shifts, we had a couple lucky bounces and a couple lucky goals."

Downie, from just above the goal line on the right, found Read in the slot and the winger one-timed a shot from his knees past Miller, knotting the score at 1-all with 5:51 remaining in the second period.

"I didn't get all of it," Read said. "I think Miller might have fallen down."

Less than two minutes later, Couturier poked the puck away from defenseman Henrik Tallinder inside the blue line and sent it to Downie, who backhanded a pass to an all-alone Read out front. Read waited and got Miller to commit before putting a shot top shelf for a 2-1 lead.

"We're getting comfortable together. We're started to know where each other is going to be," Downie said.

Excluding empty-netters, the Flyers have outscored their opponents, 14-1, in even-strength situations over the last six games.

Buffalo had taken a 1-0 lead into the second period as defenseman Tyler Myers scored by putting a power-play rebound past Ray Emery (29 saves) with 1:32 left in the first. It was the first time this season that Buffalo had a lead after the opening period. The Sabres (5-18-1), owners of the league's worst record, had been outscored in first periods, 31-4, before Thursday.

The Flyers' were 0 for 3 on the power play in the first period, and they failed to get a shot - or anything close to one - during a five-on-three advantage that lasted 41 seconds.

No matter. They regrouped, finished with a season-high 46 shots, and raised their record to 9-7-2 under coach Craig Berube. They are 6-2-2 since Downie (11 assists in 17 games overall), who has been winning board battles, was acquired from Colorado.

"He's a smart player," Couturier said. "He's creating plays out there, creating space. Ever since he's gotten here, it's been easier. He's all over the ice."



scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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