Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/20/13
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas Vanek hardly looked like a man who hadn't played NHL hockey in nine months. Vanek had five points (two goals, three assists) to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in the First Niagara Center. Tyler Myers scored the winning goal with just over five minutes remaining and Cody Hodgson gave the Sabres some breathing room with another goal with under four minutes to go. But it was Vanek who stole the show. His five points were a career high and he became the first Sabres player to accomplish the mark since Drew Stafford in January 2008. "He had a good night," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "He played well, he moved his feet. I think it's important for us as a line and as a team, when he moves his feet he creates a lot more, brings more energy to the game. I think we've clicked together pretty well in the past and tonight was another example of it." Steve Ott also scored for Buffalo in his first game with the Sabres. Ryan Miller had 27 saves. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, who fell to 0-2 after an opening-day loss to Pittsburgh. "Bounces are not going our way right now," Giroux said. "It's not the start we've been looking for, two losses in a row. But we'll just have to fight through it and come back." Ilya Bryzgalov turned in a fine effort even with five goals allowed. He had 36 saves. "He's made some big saves and you can't fault him on a couple of the goals ... definitely not Bryz's fault, that's for sure," forward Scott Hartnell said. "We've got to stick behind him, play better in front of him." As could be expected after the lengthy lockout, the game did not get off to a flying start. The teams combined for just two shots through the first 10 minutes. Ott got the Sabres on the board at 11:07 of the first period with a power-play blast from the slot. The Flyers came back with two goals in the first five minutes of the second period. Couturier deflected Kurtis Foster's shot from the point to tie the score 2:23 into the second period and Giroux rifled a slap shot high to Miller's glove side to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead on the power play at 4:57. Vanek tied the score at 2 on a pretty breakaway goal at 15:54 in the second period. After a brief five-on-three power play expired, Stafford found a streaking Vanek down the middle of the ice. Vanek had Bryzgalov down and out on a quick deke to his forehand. The Sabres turned on the pressure in the third period and outshot the Flyers 40-29 overall. Buffalo also showed some of the toughness that the Sabres hope to have this season. After being criticized heavily last year for not sticking up for Miller when he was run over by Boston forward Milan Lucic, Stafford had a rare fight in the second period against Hartnell. Stafford came to the aid of teammate Tyler Ennis, who had taken a questionable hit from Hartnell moments earlier. The Sabres also responded after Miller received a bump in the crease late in the game. "I think over the summer we addressed the fact that we want to be a harder team to play against from top to bottom, every player, doesn't matter who it is," Stafford said. "We're trying to hold each other accountable for that." It was a good start for a team that finished one spot short of the playoffs one year ago. "It was just a pretty solid overall game for our first game in a long time," Pominville said. NOTES: Flyers forward and former Sabres co-captain Danny Briere missed his second game in a row because of a wrist injury. ... Sabres first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko is the sixth 18-year-old (18 years, 254 days) to dress for the Sabres on opening day. Only four players have played for Buffalo on opening day at a younger age: Pierre Turgeon (18 years, 41 days), Tom Barrasso (18 years, 188 days), Phil Housley (18 years, 211 days) and Shawn Anderson (18 years, 244 days). ... The Flyers swept the Sabres last season, going 3-0-1 against Buffalo. ... Philadelphia won the only prior season-opening game between these teams, 2-0 on Oct. 9, 2004. ... This was the first of Buffalo's nine sets of back-to-back games this season; last year, the Sabres had a league-high 21 back-to-back sets. ... This was the 158th meeting between the two teams.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Roger Goodell speaks about future of Pro Bowl in annual address

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Sacramento Kings seriously considering firing George Karl

Rick Pitino says school should be penalized, 'but not this team'

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

$40,000 in Super Bowl tickets stolen from San Francisco hotel

Rams fan makes Super Bowl commercial ripping Stan Kroenke

Panthers LB wants 'clown' Rodney Harrison off the air

Jason Reid: Tom Brady will play at least three more years

Kirk Cousins says he has ‘very good relationship’ with RG3

Super Bowl 50 ticket prices are insane

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker