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Ivan Fedotov makes first NHL start as desperate Flyers visit Sabres

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers are holding on for dear life in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Five straight losses have put them in a very stressful situation, but a weekend back-to-back set with new life in net could be just what the doctor ordered.

Ivan Fedotov will make his first NHL start when the Flyers take on the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night in Western New York. Fedotov made his NHL debut in the second period of Monday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders, stopping 19 of 21 shots in relief of Samuel Ersson.

“I put him in a hell of a spot,” said head coach John Tortorella after the game. “And he’s the only goddamn player that played the second period.”

Fedotov coming up large again tonight will be paramount for the Flyers’ postseason chances. Philadelphia currently resides in third in the Metropolitan Division by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Islanders in regulation/overtime wins, while the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are lingering behind by one and two points each, respectively.

While the Flyers are in the thick of the playoff race, the Sabres are six points behind the final Wild Card berth and are likely looking at a 13th consecutive season without playoff hockey.

Buffalo has lost five of their last 10 games and eight of their 15. They’ve had a very up-and-down season with more lows than highs, but they’ll look to close out this homestand on a positive note.

Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been by far the biggest reason why Buffalo has even come close to sniffing a playoff berth this year. He has appeared in 30 of Buffalo’s last 35 contests and 10 of their last 12. The Espoo, Finland native has racked up 25 wins this season, the most by a Sabres goaltender since Ryan Miller won 31 games in 2011-12, and has made himself known as the clear cut starter in Buffalo in light of the struggles of top prospect Devon Levi this year.

The good news for the Flyers is that Luukkonen is the same goalie that let up five goals on 19 shots the last time these teams played on November 3rd. However, the Sabres won in Philadelphia, 5-2, on November 1st, so this game could easily go either way based on past history.

PHI Record: 36-29-11, 83 pts, 3rd in Metropolitan

BUF Record: 36-35-5, 77 pts, 6th in Atlantic 

When: 7:00 pm ET

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY

Broadcast Info: NBC Sports Philadelphia, 97.5 The Fanatic

Last Game PHI: 4/1/24, 4-3 OTL vs. NY Islanders

Last Game BUF: 4/2/24, 6-2 W vs. Washington

PHI Goalie: Ivan Fedotov (0-0-1, .905 SV%, 3.15 GAA, 0 SO)

BUF Goalie: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (25-20-3, .910 SV%, 2.57 GAA, 5 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#71 Tyson Foerster – #48 Morgan Frost – #11 Travis Konecny

#74 Owen Tippett – #21 Scott Laughton – #10 Bobby Brink

#62 Olle Lycksell – #25 Ryan Poehling – #19 Garnet Hathaway 

#86 Joel Farabee – #27 Noah Cates – #89 Cam Atkinson 

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim

#24 Nick Seeler – #9 Jamie Drysdale

#5 Egor Zamula – #77 Erik Johnson

#82 Ivan Fedotov

#33 Samuel Ersson

Scratches: #15 Denis Gurianov, #18 Marc Staal, #23 Ronnie Attard, #44 Nicolas Deslauriers, #50 Adam Ginning

Injuries: #14 Sean Couturier, #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

BUF Projected Lineup

#77 J.J. Peterka – #72 Tage Thompson – #89 Alex Tuch

#9 Zach Benson – #24 Dylan Cozens – #22 Jack Quinn

#53 Jeff Skinner – #19 Peyton Krebs – #13 Lukáš Rousek

#50 Eric Robinson – #28 Zemgus Girgensons – #71 Victor Olofsson

#25 Owen Power – #26 Rasmus Dahlin

#4 Bowen Byram – #10 Henri Jokiharju

#78 Jacob Bryson – #75 Connor Clifton

#1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

#31 Eric Comrie

Scratches: #17 Tyson Jost, #38 Kale Clague

Injuries: #12 Jordan Greenway, #23 Mattias Samuelsson

News and Notes

Erik Johnson will visit Buffalo for the first time since being traded to Philadelphia on March 8th at the trade deadline.

– The Flyers are 41-45-8-2 against the Sabres on the road all-time, and they are 23-22-2-2 at KeyBank Center since it opened in 1996.

– The Flyers will look for their third consecutive road win in Buffalo for the first time since March 2021.

Sean Couturier is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and did not travel with the team for their road trip.

– Couturier was also nominated by the Philadelphia chapter of the PWHA for the 2024 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media platforms.

Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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