It would have been a nice milestone, for sure, but the Sabres just wanted to get out of town healthy and get ready to make a run at their first Stanley Cup championship.
The loss was only an inconvenient blip for the top-seeded Sabres as they head into the postseason with the best record in the NHL and home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"You don't want a key injury in a game like this that means absolutely nothing to you," coach Lindy Ruff said. "It was two teams that didn't throw a lot of hits. As a players, you don't want to get hurt on your exit game. It was pretty mildly contested on both sides."
That will change this week when the Sabres face either the New York Islanders or Toronto in the first round.
"We're in good shape," Ruff said. "We've been playing real good hockey, we've tightened up defensively and we've gotten ourselves healthy, which is important."
"Expectations were high at the start of the season and we wanted to be the best team," Pominville said. "To be able to maintain this level all season has been something that we're happy about. Everybody's healthy now and we're right where we want to be. Hopefully we can keep it going."
That 1974-75 Sabres team lost to the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals, the second of back-to-back Cups for Philadelphia. This year's Flyers will be remembered for different reasons.
Philadelphia finished with the most losses and fewest points in its 40-year history (22-48-12; 56 points) and needed this victory to reach 10 home wins. The Flyers missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
"They kept saying little comments that only me would know what they're talking about," Biron said. "It brought a few smiles to my face during the game. It keeps me loose. It was fun."
At least the Flyers went out on a bit of a high note, rallying for goals against Sabres backup goalie Ty Conklin.
The Sabres went ahead 3-2 in the final minute of the second period when Roy scored his 21st goal and extended his scoring streak to six games.
Normally, that would have been enough to deflate the Flyers. Their locker room was quiet during the second intermission as another tight game seemed to have slipped away.
Coach John Stevens snapped them out of their silence and told them they only had 20 more minutes of hockey left on the season and to go out and make something of their time. With the Sabres going through the motions, the Flyers prepared for a comeback and Knuble led the way.
Knuble shot the puck off Conklin's stick to score his 24th goal of the season and quiet those rising "Let's go, Buffalo!" chants. Yes, it truly is an awful season in Philly when the Sabres fans are more vocal than the so-called most intimidating fans in the NHL.
Knuble also helped set up the winner. His wraparound shot was stuffed by Conklin, but Richards crashed the net and poked the puck through for his 10th goal and a 4-3 lead.
"They need to get ready for the playoffs, they didn't want to get hurt and I don't think they played their best game tonight," Gagne said.
The Flyers led 2-1 in the second, but Pominville tied the score after it appeared that Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher nudged the puck over the line.
Stevens will hold exit meetings with the players on Monday and Tuesday.
"We will talk about the offseason and what lies ahead next year and how important the preparation is going to be," he said.
|Lasse Kukkonen congratulates goalie Martin Biron, who finishes with 30 saves in the victory. (AP)|
|Philadelphia (22-48-12) «||1||1||2||4|
Save Pct.: .900
Flyers Color Blocked Full Zip Hooded Jacket – Orange/Black Shop Now!
|10:21||Thomas Vanek (43), Wrist Shot - Assists: Jaroslav Spacek, Maxim Afinogenov|
|11:15||Simon Gagne (41), Backhand Shot - Assists: Mike Knuble, Derian Hatcher|
|02:04||Stefan Ruzicka (3), Wrist Shot - Assists: Braydon Coburn, Scottie Upshall|
|15:32||Jason Pominville (34), Wrist Shot - Assists: Chris Drury, Dmitri Kalinin|
|19:49||Derek Roy (21), Wrist Shot - Assists: Thomas Vanek, Maxim Afinogenov|
|03:42||Mike Knuble (24), Slap Shot - Assist: Simon Gagne|
|08:45||Power Play - Mike Richards (10), Backhand Shot - Assists: Mike Knuble, Randy Jones|
|04:09||Richards: High sticking - 2 min.|
|07:28||Connolly: Holding - 2 min.|
|11:37||Zubrus: Hooking - 2 min.|
|17:52||Drury: Hooking - 2 min.|
|05:37||Sanderson: Too Many Men on the Ice(bench) - 2 min.|
|07:41||Conklin: Delay of Game - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 19027|
|Referees - Gord Dwyer, Don Koharski|
|Linesmen - David Brisebois, Pierre Champoux|