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Flyers’ “Jekyll and Hyde” second period costs them again as they fall to Sabres 4-3

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Buffalo Sabres have beaten the Philadelphia Flyers for the 4th consecutive time, this time by a score of 4-3. The 4-3 defeat also represented their 4th straight loss after the Flyers lost the plot in the second period.

After jumping ahead 2-0 not even four minutes into the game, the daunting second period turned things into a nightmare as the Sabres not only outshot the Flyers 18-4, but more importantly outscored them 4-1. The third period didn’t produce much for the Orange and Black even though they had three straight power plays in a span of seven minutes.

The Flyers got goals from Joel Farabee, Owen Tippett, and Travis Konecny, and Martin Jones made 25 saves but they lost the special teams battle by a wide margin.

A week of back-to-backs and home-and-homes, the Flyers visited Buffalo for the first set of their home-and-home with two teams struggling beyond belief but playing with a plethora of young players. Coming off a disastrous back-to-back situation earlier in the week with their 9-2 shellacking against the Washington Capitals and then being shut out in a boring and mundane 4-0 game on home ice against the New York Rangers, the Flyers were desperate for a quick start as they really don’t do much when they give up the first goal as evidenced by their 5-33-4 record when that happens.

FIRST PERIOD

It was a quick start indeed as the Flyers took a 2-0 lead 3:55 into the game with goals scored in a span of 2:14 minutes. Bobby Brink made a good defensive play to steal the puck in front of Martin Jones’ blue paint. Keith Yandle corralled the loose puck and pushed it towards the corner for Brink to pick it up and set up out the zone. He played a little give and go with Joel Farabee before poking a puck past a Sabres defender and was one on one with Craig Anderson. Brink made a nice move but was stopped by the pad of Anderson before a streaking Farabee got just enough to get the puck over the line, only 1:41 into the game.

2:14 later Owen Tippett joined in on the fun as he got one past Anderson as well for his third goal as a Flyer. Off a defensive zone face-off win but more importantly a Jeff Skinner turnover, Travis Sanheim used his size and speed to push the puck out of the zone to give the Flyers an odd-man rush. Quick passes by James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, and Travis Sanheim had the Flyers looking dangerous as they entered the offensive zone with speed. Sanheim looked to pass it back to Hayes but the puck bounced off of Rasmus Dahlin’s skates and right to a streaking and unmarked Tippett, who made no mistake in backhanding the puck past Anderson.

Dahlin was then called for a slashing penalty 11:18 into the first period, giving the Flyers’ 32nd ranked power play a chance to take a 3-0 lead. The Sabres made easy work with the first 1:59 of the Flyers’ man advantage as they weren’t able to set up, get shots, and the Sabres even had a shorthanded opportunity. However with the penalty ending, Brink was robbed going towards the net, the puck was loose and as the Flyers were hacking away, the Sabres took exception to it and out of the scrum Travis Konecny was called for a two-minute roughing minor.

25 seconds into the power play, Alex Tuch missed a one-time opportunity as it hit the side of the net and for whatever reason as Sanheim tried batting the puck out of the air, Tuch cross-checked the defenseman and after a few pushes, both players ended up getting called for coincidental minors. The Sabres created a few chances but nothing too difficult for Martin Jones, who has been playing relatively well in recent weeks. The Sabres outshot the Flyers 9-7 but the Flyers held the 2-0 lead.

SECOND PERIOD

The Flyers have had several crutches this season but maybe none bigger than their second period performances; one of the worst teams in the NHL during the second period as evidenced by their 65-90 goal differential. Ivan Provorov was called for a hooking minor 1:41 into the period and the Sabres used the power play to get back into the game after Kyle Okposo’s 20th of the season cut the deficit in half. Henri Jokiharju kept the puck in at the point and fed a pass to Peyton Krebs, who then sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Okposo for the one time finish. 

The Flyers completely lost the plot the moment the second period began, which has been a common theme all season. Odd how things looked so good in the first but then the moment they hit the ice again, they looked like a completely different team, The Sabres had an 8-1 shot advantage by the midway point of the season and as the pressure was mounting on the Flyers, the Sabres tied things up after Rasmus Dahlin finished a pretty play started by Jeff Skinner. James van Riemsdyk had a delayed penalty called against him but as the Flyers stopped playing, the Sabres continued trudging along. van Riemsdyk lost his stick, Skinner took the puck to the corner, made a move against Provorov and Hayes, and reached the face-off dot before sending a perfect feed to Dahlin who made absolutely no mistake in beating Jones glove-high. 

In the latter-third of the period, the Flyers and Sabres traded goals 1:30 minutes apart as Konecny took the lead with his 14th of the season before Vinnie Hinostroza tied the game again with his 12th of the year. Sanheim forced a turnover on Casey Mittelstadt, retrieved the puck and then sent it out to Konecny who played a little give and go with Noah Cates before streaking towards the net from his strong-side and roofed a puck over Anderson’s shoulder.

Shortly afterwards, Egor Zamula turned the puck over in his own zone after sending a pass to no one in particular. The Sabres corralled the turnover, set up quickly and efficiently, as an easy point shot was stopped but the rebound was a juicy one, and for whatever reason Nate Thompson and Zack MacEwen let Hinostroza take the puck and score. 

Noah Cates was then called for a hooking minor and as you could assume what happened next, Tage Thompson and the Sabres took their first lead of the game after he finished a nice passing play from Casey Middlestadt and Rasmus Dahlin. The Flyers were just sitting back, not even sagging or collapsing in front of Jones, but the passing lanes were left wide open. Dahlin and Mittelstadt played a little pitch-and-catch before the latter sent Thompson a cross-seam pass and then finished it off with relative ease over the shoulder of Jones.

The Sabres scored four goals in a period against the Flyers for the second time this year and that’s saying something considering both teams have only completed five periods against one another. They outshot the Flyers 18-4 in the second frame, 27-11 after two, and held a 46-13 shot attempt advantage.

THIRD PERIOD 

The Sabres entered the third period with all the confidence, momentum, and pressure and things didn’t get any better or easier for the Flyers. They created a few scoring chances before Kevin Hayes was called for a hooking minor only four minutes into the period. Fortunately, the Flyers were able to kill the penalty with relative ease and found themselves on a power play of their own a few minutes later. Jeff Skinner was weaving his way around the Flyers defense again but got stripped by Sanheim at the last second and ended up tripping him in response. 

Nothing new to report however, as it was another horrid Flyers power play that did nothing but kill two minutes off the clock. With 7:59 remaining in regulation, Zemgus Girgensons was called for a two minute holding minor, which gave the anemic power play another chance to tie things up. With 17 seconds left on the man advantage, the Sabres found themselves on a 3 on 1 and somehow flubbed their chance right in front of Martin Jones. The Flyers countered that opportunity with a 2 on 1 of their own but van Riemsdyk’s attempt hit the post. 

Not long after the Sabres killed off their second successive penalty of the period, they were called for another one after Thompson took a tripping minor which represented their third penalty in six minutes and 49 seconds. The Flyers failed to score yet again but at the very least the Flyers created a few scoring chances; silver linings! With Jones pulled the Flyers had trouble possessing the puck, entering the zone, and setting up. They almost wasted a full minute before finally setting up in the offensive zone, to which they found themselves offside.

UP NEXT

Philadelphia returns home tomorrow as they host a rematch against the Sabres at 5:00pm on Easter Sunday at Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers fan born in the heart of Leafs nation, living in Guelph

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