More than anything else, Brian Flynn just wanted to show the Buffalo Sabres he belongs a part of the team's long-term plans.
He took some important strides in that direction Thursday.
His short-handed effort – stealing a loose puck, warding off a defender and backhanding home a first-period short-handed goal – gave the Sabres their first goal of the game in their 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
That helped him get second-line minutes for the final 40 minutes of the game. Coach Ted Nolan had him fill in after Cody Hodgson sustained an upper-body injury. He played 15:25 – one of his highest ice times of the season – and notched an assist on Tyler Myers' final goal of the game.
"You never want anyone to get hurt, but when it happens, you have to take advantage," said Flynn, who finished a plus-3 on the night. "You have to be ready to play more minutes."
Flynn has been stuck around 10 minutes per game most of the season. He's only scored six points (three goals, three assists) but has kept the interest of Nolan due to his work ethic.
And the 25-year-old has plenty of upside. He still has only 59 games of NHL experience, earning a midseason call-up as a professional rookie last season and never again leaving Buffalo. So Nolan feels that natural skill will help aid his ascension:
"I've got soft spots for anyone who comes to the rink and works hard and competes … he did well."
Flynn said he was happy that work resulted in something tangible Thursday, and he hopes it leads to better things for the team in the new year:
"That's how you win games in the NHL, and guys are starting to realize that."
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