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Postgame 5: Sabres End Losing Streak at Flyers' Expense

In the second game of a back-to-back set at KeyBank Arena, the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 6-1, on Wednesday evening

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer / philadelphiaflyers.com

In the second game of a back-to-back set at KeyBank Arena, the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Buffalo Sabres, 6-1, on Wednesday evening. Buffalo ended a 19-game winless streak.

First period even-strength goals by Sam Reinhart (13th of the season) and Curtis Lazar (5th) built a 2-0 lead for Buffalo. Ivan Provorov (6th) got one back for the Flyers in the middle stanza only for Steven Fogarty (1st NHL goal) to restore a two-goal margin and then Casey Mittelstadt (2nd) made it a 4-1 lead. In the third period, Brandon Montour (3rd and 4th) scored a pair of shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill; one empty-net and one on a rebound.

Flyers starter Brian Elliott went 35:29, stopping 12 of 16 shots before giving way to Alex Lyon in relief. Making his first NHL appearance of the 2020-21 season, Lyon saw eight shots, stopping seven. Linus Ullmark earned the win for Buffalo. He stopped 31 of 32 shots.

The Flyers' starting lineup featured three changes from Monday night. The team activated Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski from the Taxi Squad and rested Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom. Head coach Alain Vigneault indicated that both Lindblom and Patrick are physically worn down at present, based both on biofeedback from the team's Sports Science data as well as his own recent observations. In order to give Lindblom, Patrick and Carter Hart the night off -- essentially the start of a 72-hour respite until the team plays again on Saturday -- the team had to assign defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to the Taxi Squad, along with the activations of Bunnaman, Twarynski and Alex Lyon. This was done in order to stay compliant with the 23-man roster limit and the salary cap.

TURNING POINT

The first Buffalo goal was sheer bad luck for the Flyers. The second one was a collective breakdown for the Flyers, starting with getting a shot blocked at the offensive point and ending with the Buffalo trailer. Lazar, scoring. From there, it was an uphill climb the rest of the night for the Flyers. 

MELTZER'S TAKE

1) The Flyers played a better first period in the early and closing minutes-- more energy, more concerted forecheck -- than they did on Monday but went off with a 2-0 deficit on the scoreboard, a 10-7 shot on goal disadvantage (18-14 Flyers shot attempt edge). Couturier hit the post 10 seconds into the game on the closest the Flyers came to a goal. There was also a late scramble near the Buffalo net.

2) The Reinhart goal was a Buffalo bounce; the puck was heading well away from Elliott but deflected off Justin Braun and re-directed into the net at 9:32. At 11:59, the Sabres made it 2-0. Braun was blocked on a right point shot attempt by Riley Sheahan, who broke the other way. Braun recovered sufficiently to tie up Sheahan but wide open trailer Lazar scored off a pass into the slot. 

3) The Flyers had several good looks at the net on the first power play of the game but couldn't get to a couple loose pucks around the net. At 3:50, a Provorov left point shot pinballed into the net off a Buffalo defender. The assists went to Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Philly pushed the play until near the midway point then they hurt themselves by losing some key puck/positional battles. Second period shots were 14-8 in the Flyers' favor.

4) At 9:42,the Sabres were first to the puck in the right corner of the Flyers zone, Fogarty slipped away from Carsen Twarynski and Erik Gustafsson to score from the lower slot. The assists went to Rasmus Ristolainen and Jacob Bryson. At 15:39, after the Sabres forecheck outworked the Flyers, an open Mittelstadt scored from the right circle, ending Elliott's night. The assists went to Fogarty and Bryson. When Lyon came in, he had to make a tough save almost right off the bat to keep the game at 4-1.

5) The Sabres played a very defensive-minded third period. The Flyers didn't generate much of a concerted comeback push. Philly's third power play of the game punctuated the loss. Montour scored a pair of shorthanded goals: the first into an empty net from logn distance on a 6-on-4 for the Flyers with Lyon pulled for an extra attacker, and then a follow-up of his own rebound for the Sabres' sixth goal of the night. The Flyers finished off a very rough month of March with a dubious new one-month franchise record for total goals allowed and worst team GAA. 

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