There were goals-a-plenty for the Buffalo Bandits as they dominated the Philadelphia Wings and came away with a 16-7 road victory inside the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
History was made in the game as John Tavares scored his 700th career goal at 9:51 of the first quarter. Tavares, the NLL’s all-time leading scorer, finished the night with five goals and four assists for a season-high nine points in the Bandits’ victory.
Tavares’ goal wasn’t the only milestone set for Buffalo as Tracey Kelusky recorded his 700th career point and Chad Culp grabbed his 300th career point. Kelusky (3-4-7) and Culp (4-3-7) each finished with seven points in the victory. Meanwhile, Mark Steenhuis registered eight points on two goals and six assists. Mike Thompson was a stonewall in the Bandits’ net as the goaltender stopped 43 of Philadelphia’s 50 shots.
The Wings were the first to strike in the contest when Alex Turner gave Philadelphia the early lead with the man advantage. Buffalo answered back when Tavares netted his 700th career goal on the power play. Tavares wouldn’t stop there as he scored two more goals in the quarter while Kelusky added another to give Buffalo a 4-1 lead after the opening period.
The second started with Athan Iannucci and Chad Culp exchanging goals in the first minute of the quarter. Philadelphia would then rally to tie the game at five goals apiece midway through the second quarter with goals by Drew Westervelt, Turner and another by Iannucci. Buffalo countered Philly’s flurry with goals by Culp and Kelusky and went into halftime with a 7-5 lead.
Philadelphia opened the second half with a goal by Dan Hardy in the first minute of the third quarter. The Bandits responded with four straight goals from Kelusky, Culp and two from Tavares to take an 11-6 lead through three quarters.
Buffalo picked up where it left off and blew the game open in the fourth with goals by Brett Bucktooth, Roger Vyse, Culp and two from Steenhuis. Buffalo’s 15th goal chased Wings goaltender Brandon Miller from the net in favor of Ray Hodgkinson. Westervelt scored the lone goal for the Wings in the final quarter, but it was the only offense Philly would get as Buffalo was able to hold on for the 16-7 lead.
After Buffalo’s 13th goal, Bandits rookie Travis Irving got knocked out cold while mixing it up with Wings tough guy Paul Dawson. Both players were assessed five-minute fighting penalties.
With the win, Buffalo moved to 4-2 and remained tied with the Rochester Knighthawks for second place in the East. The loss dropped Philadelphia to 3-4, which keeps the Wings at the bottom of the East Division but still just two games behind division-leader Toronto, which defeated Calgary 9-8 on Saturday. The Bandits and Wings will meet again next Saturday, Feb. 19 at HSBC Arena for a 7:30 p.m. tilt.