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Sabres Score 3 Goals on 4 Shots in Final Period to Hand Flyers Third Straight Defeat

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their 3rd consecutive game and 5th in their last 6 after falling to the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 5-2.

The scoreline doesn’t do them any justice as they thoroughly dominated the Sabres in the final 50 minutes with almost all their shots coming after a tongue lashing from John Tortorella mid-period.

The Flyers fired 40 shots on goal but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had almost all the answers. Joel Farabee did however start the scoring just 55 seconds in before Buffalo scored 2 goals from Casey Mittlestadt and Brandon Biro. Carter Hart was forced out of the game due to an injury, but that only propelled the offense that was originally stagnant to start the game.

Cam Atkinson tied it before the period ended but that was all the Flyers could muster the rest of the way. Owen Power scored the eventual game-winner 3:03 into the third, Tage Thompson put the dagger in their hearts 13:28 into the final frame, and then Biro sealed it with 3:08 left into the empty-netter. The Sabres scored 3 goals on 4 shots in the third period.

Hart made 3 saves on 5 shots, and Samuel Ersson made 7 saves on 9 shots in relief. Travis Sanheim played 24:35 TOI and recorded 2 assists, Cam York led the way once again with 25:04, and Travis Konecny paced the forwards at 19:13.

Looking to get back on a winning track, the Flyers played host to the Buffalo Sabres in the first game of a home-and-home. After coming out of the gates hot, the Flyers had dropped 4 of their last 5 games against the Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, and Carolina Hurricanes with their sole victory coming at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. Their overall game play has been above average to good, however they have found different ways to lose each time but in usual disappointing fashion.

Nevertheless, John Tortorella has been very pleased with his team’s performance, the fan base has been generally positive as well, and with that in mind the lineup remained the same. Sean Couturier centered the top line with Owen Tippett and Cam Atkinson, Noah Cates was in the middle between Bobby Brink, and Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost remained in the lineup with Tyson Foerster and Travis Konecny on his wings, and the newly-minted HDL line rounded out the group in Garnet Hathaway, Nicolas Deslauriers, and Scott Laughton.

Travis Sanheim and Cam York are the race-horses of the Flyers back-end as they made up the top pair, Egor Zamula and Sean Walker rounded out the top-4, and Louie Belpedio and Nick Seeler were stationed as the third pair. Carter Hart returned in goal for his 201st career NHL start, looking for his 5th win of the season to go along with his strong peripherals in a 2.30 GAA and .921 SV%.

As for Buffalo, they entered this season with a lot more hype than usual, primarily because of their hot streak to end the season that saw them just miss out of the playoffs by one point. They entered tonight 4-5-0 and have alternated between wins and losses 9 games through with their most recent game being a 4-0 shutout victory against the Colorado Avalanche.

Rasmus Dahlin and Jeff Skinner paced the club with 9 points apiece, Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt had 7 apiece, and Tage Thompson had 6 points. Skinner led the club with 5 goals but it has been goaltending that has disappointed so far. Devon Levi was initially believed to be the starter tonight – sporting a 1-3-0 record, 3.26 GAA, and a .892 SV% – but the Sabres went back to Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen who shutout the Avalanche earlier this week.


55 seconds into the game, the Philadelphia Flyers struck first after a fortunate bounce for Joel Farabee. Coming out of the defensive zone and trying to jump start an odd-man rush, Travis Sanheim forced a turnover behind his own net and found Farabee, who upon entering the offensive zone, was looking to make a pass. However it deflected off the stick of Owen Power and over the shoulder of Luukkonen for his 5th goal of the season and the 5th time he’s scored the first goal.

It didn’t take the Sabres long to respond as they tied the game at the 3:38 mark of the first period on some quick passes after a good counter-attacking rush. In the neutral zone Mittelstadt poked it towards Jeff Skinner on his wing who then one-touched a backhander back to Mittelstadt, who then deftly one touched it to J.J. Peterka on his off-wing. Peterka forced Egor Zamula to defend him a little closer, leaving Mittelstadt wide open in the slot to finish off the passing play past Hart glove-side.

The tying goal worked wonders for the Sabres as they started to pick up the pace and were holding the Flyers in check. Farabee’s goal was the first shot of the game but they hadn’t registered another shot for well over 10 minutes. In that time the Sabres not only tied it but almost took the lead after Jeff Skinner beat Hart, but not John Tortorella and the video crew.

The Mittelstadt, Skinner, and Peterka line looked to have struck again off the rush and into the slot with Skinner finishing his shot blocker-side. Tortorella decided to review the play for a potential offside call with Peterka’s skate looking to have beaten the puck into the zone. The referees conferred with Toronto who overturned the call on the ice. No goal.

It didn’t seem to matter all that much as the Sabres got one back just 31 seconds later. Brandon Biro scored his first goal of his career after finishing a rebound play in tight. The Flyers left Biro unmarked as he was able to walk into the crease and finish the passing play from behind the net past a gimpy Hart.

Hart went down earlier in the period and it took him some time before he was able to get back on his skates. He stayed in the game but in that time he allowed 2 goals – one that didn’t count – and after Biro’s tally, Hart was forced out of the game with an injury and in stepped Samuel Ersson.

As Hart was departing, Tortorella had a huddle with his club and let them have it as they started off terribly; 1 shot in 11 minutes, their one goal was a fluke of the stick of Owen Power, and they sat back and let Buffalo take over.

It must’ve worked wonders because the Flyers not only took over the second half of the period but they found a way to tie the game. Travis Sanheim, who jumpstarted the first goal, fittingly was the catalyst on the late period tally.

The club’s minute-leader jumped on a turnover just inside of his own blue-line and moved his feet instead of dumping it off and fed Cam Atkinson. He entered the zone, passed it back to Sanheim whose initial shot was flubbed but Atkinson was able to deflect it over the shoulder of Luukkonen for his 6th of the season.

After a rocky start, the Flyers held a 10-7 shot advantage – with 9 coming in the last 10+ minutes, were up 13-5 in the faceoff dot, and held a 13-3 edge in hits.


3:59 into the middle frame, Cam York was tripped by Peyton Krebs for the first penalty of the game. After 55 seconds where the Flyers were wheeling it around the offensive zone, Sanheim was whistled for a cross-checking penalty after Erik Johnson dumped the puck at the end of the shift.

The second period brought about a very different feel than the first 20 minutes. The open-ice plays were no longer there, the odd-man rushes were not available, and the defensive schemes got tighter as the period moved along.

Samuel Ersson was barely tested as the Flyers fortified a wall any time the Sabres did set up in the offensive zone. It was a period that favoured the Flyers ultimately but Luukkonen made all the key stops to keep the game tied.

After a scrum ensued with a Garnet Hathaway hit, Nicolas Deslauriers was guilty for a roughing minor with 1:33 left in the second period. The Flyers did a fantastic job at limiting the opportunities to just one shot from Dylan Cozens as the horn sounded off to end the period.

The Orange and Black had a 10-4 advantage in shots in the period and were up 20-11 after 40 minutes. They also held a 24-10 edge in the face-off dot and were up 18-10 in hits.


Jumping on their limited opportunities, the Sabres converted on yet another odd-man rush, this time coming from Owen Power in the slot 3:05 into the final period of regulation. Tage Thompson was able to traverse through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone with numbers before dropping a pass to Power, who beat Ersson glove-side for his first of the year.

Cam York was all the way back in the offensive zone so the Sabres were able to take advantage of Cam Atkinson trying to defend.

30 seconds later, Bobby Brink was clipped with a high-stick by Mattias Samuelsson, sending the Flyers back onto the power play. The bleak man advantage couldn’t muster up much of anything but fortunately it didn’t put a damper on their chances.

The Flyers were swarming the Sabres shift after shift but couldn’t buy a third goal. They had chances from Tyson Foerster, Joel Farabee, and Cam Atkinson among others, but either ripped it just wide, got robbed by the goaltender, or had a defender block or deflect the shot as the last line of defence.

Tage Thompson put a stop to the swarming Flyers after ripping one glove-side on Ersson off the rush for a 2-goal lead with 6:29 remaining in regulation. The Sabres jumped on Noah Cates’ failed clearance attempt as Alex Tuch was able to corral it along the boards before feeding Thompson in the slot for his 5th of the season.

Unable to get Carter Hart to the bench for an extra attacker against Carolina last game, Tortorella pulled Samuel Ersson very early with 3:52 left on the clock. After Luukkonen made yet another big stop – this time on a deflection from Tippett on Konecny point shot – the Sabres went the other way and scored into the empty net courtesy of Biro for his 2nd of the night with 3:08 left to play.

Hathaway was initially about to be sent to the sin bin for a high-sticking minor afterwards but the referees conferred and overturned the call due to friendly fire but then with 113 seconds left, Peyton Krebs was called for a high-sticking minor.

The Flyers had a lot of “moral victories” tonight after thoroughly dominating the Sabres in almost every category, but Buffalo jumped on their chances, were opportunistic when needed, and Luukkonen made some massive stops, especially in the third to secure the victory and their first winning streak of the season.

Philadelphia outshot Buffalo 20-4 in the third period, 40-15 for the whole game, had a 33-28 edge in the face-off dot, and a 22-13 edge in hits. It was all for naught as they dropped their 3 straight and 5th in their last 6.


The Flyers head to KeyBank Center on Friday night (7:00pm ET, NBCSP) for the second leg of this home-and-home series against the Sabres.

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