Buffalo Sabres right wing Jason Pominville (29) reacts after his goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game with the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
PHILADELPHIA - Wayne Simmonds looked as if he went a few rounds in a heavyweight fight.
His mouth busted open because of an errant puck in warmups, Simmonds needed 25 stitches in his upper and lower lips. He was bloodied, a couple of teeth were knocked around, and he felt numb. He even played with a full face shield for extra protection.
His numbers sure looked pretty, though.
Simmonds scored two goals after he was blasted in the face with a puck, and Max Talbot also scored twice, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 7-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Simmonds had no comment after one of his best games of the season.
He wasn't being rude—Simmonds was too swollen and stitched up to speak.
His teammates were proud of the way he gutted it out after taking the puck to the face in the pregame skate.
"He's a warrior," goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said.
Simmonds scored twice and Erik Gustafsson scored his first career NHL goal as part of a four-goal second period for the Flyers. That surge bailed out goalie Bryzgalov, who allowed two goals in the first.
Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell added goals in the third for the Flyers to turn this one into a rout. Claude Giroux had five assists and Hartnell had three.
Simmonds was hit in warmups and joined the bench minutes into the first period.
Simmonds, who already has a career high in goals, scored consecutive goals in the second for a 3-2 lead. Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth was yanked after allowing three straight goals. Ryan Miller allowed one to Gustafsson, giving the Flyers four goals on their first 10 shots of the period.
The Flyers snapped a two-game losing streak and won for only the second time in the last seven games, a rough patch that had dropped them 10 points behind the New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division.
Usually one of the top home teams in the NHL, the Flyers improved to only 14-9-5 in Philadelphia.
"We're a hard team to play against when we're moving north and skating hard," coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Flyers won without Jaromir Jagr (flu), James van Riemsdyk (concussion), Zac Rinaldo (suspension), and they lost centre Danny Briere (upper-body injury) and winger Tom Sestito (lower-body injury) during the game. There was no immediate word if any of those injured players would return Saturday against Pittsburgh. Rinaldo served the first of a two-game suspension for launching to hit Detroit Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson.
They almost lost Simmonds after the freak pregame hit. Simmonds, who has 20 goals, gave the Flyers the scoring punch they needed to hold off Buffalo.
Bryzgalov, who was been very mediocre in his first season in Philly, allowed fast goals in the first to Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek for the 2-0 lead. Pominville scored off a nice cross-ice pass from Tyler Myers and Vanek's slapper whizzed past Bryzgalov.
It was a rare dose of instant offence for a Sabres team that had scored only 132 goals, 26th in the NHL.
Bryzgalov was booed after letting in Vanek's goal and the Flyers were jeered off the ice into the first intermission.
That was the end of the fun for Buffalo.
"This time of year, it's unacceptable to get a lead like that and blow it," Pominville said. "In the first, we had control, we generated chances and didn't give up much. Then the momentum changed sides. That's when you have to lock in and play better."
Talbot made it 2-1 when he redirected Braydon Coburn's shot only 54 seconds into the period. Simmonds scored off a rebound for a power-play goal to tie the game, then put them ahead with his 20th.
"He does what he does best," Giroux said. "In front of the net, no one can move him."
Bryzgalov toughened up and made 27 saves.
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff's decision to give Miller a rare rest backfired. Not only did he need to use his star goalie, but Miller got roughed up.
Voracek's sweet drop pass to Gustafsson for the goal made it 4-2 and those boos had turned into a roaring ovation from another packed house.
Talbot scored again in the third, and the public address announcer was still talking about the goal when Voracek scored.
Hartnell scored his team-high 27th goal and the rout was in full blast. Ruff shook his head in disgust and rubbed his eyes. He was back behind the bench for the second since breaking three ribs during a collision with a player in practice.
He must have wished he sat this one out.
"That's about as bad as you can play defensively," he said.
Notes: The Flyers acquired Swedish defenceman Nicklas Grossman from Dallas in exchange for a 2012 second-round pick and a 2013 third-round pick. Grossman, six-foot-four and 230 pounds, has five assists in 52 games this season. ... Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said there is no timetable for van Riemsdyk's return. He has been out a month with a concussion. "I think now it just comes down to how James is feeling and when he feels ready," Holmgren said.
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