Flyers Flounder Again as Sabres Snap Streak
The month of March couldn't come to an end soon enough for the Flyers. After all, it featured some listless losses, some embarrassing losses, some comeback wins that didn't translate to the next game, and each was fueled by inconsistent play, poor defensive coverage, lackluster goaltending, and constant puck mismanagement.
How did the Flyers cap off this month? Quite possibly in the most fitting way, losing to a team that couldn't win a game all month long, the only team that seemed to be finding a way to lose games more than the Flyers themselves. It wasn't even a close loss, it was another embarrassment. The Buffalo Sabres snapped an 18-game winless streak as the Flyers closed March with a 6-1 defeat on Wednesday night.
The Flyers did come out with more jump early in the game, but the Sabres struck first with a lucky bounce at 9:32. Off a centering feed by Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart fired a shot toward the net that hit off Justin Braun and went in to make it 1-0 Buffalo.
Less than three minutes later, the Flyers got caught in a breakdown. Braun had a shot blocked and Riley Sheahan moved up ice. Braun stayed with him, ultimately forcing him to the outside where he couldn't get a shot off, but Sheahan was able to turn and hit the trailing Curtis Lazar who was wide open for the goal through the legs of Brian Elliott to make it 2-0.
The Sabres dominated the remainder of the period, taking a 10-7 lead in shots to the break.
The Flyers got an early power play in the second, and while they did not score, it didn't take long after for them to strike. Ivan Provorov had a point shot go off Brandon Montour and beat Linus Ullmark, cutting the lead to one just 3:50 into the middle frame.
Just shy of the halfway point of the period, with the Flyers dominating in shots in the period, 11-1, Buffalo got their best chance of the period and scored. After a lost board battle, a shot went to the corner and Steven Fogarty had his stick knocked out of his hands by Sam Morin. Play carried on, and Rasmus Ristolainen centered between four Flyers caught napping on the play. Fogarty had to take a moment to control the quick pass, but was able to lift the shot over Elliott to make it 3-1 at 9:42.
There was another blown coverage in the final five minutes that led to another Buffalo goal. All five Flyers ended up on the same side of the ice with Phil Myers out of position and Joel Farabee losing his man. That allowed Casey Mittelstadt to get wide open to receive the pass from Fogarty. Mittelstadt scored to make it 4-1 with 4:21 to play.
That ended up being the end of Elliott's night. He made 12 saves on 16 shots. Alex Lyon was called upon to make his first NHL appearance in over a year, dating back to Feb. 6, 2020.
The third period was merely a formality. The Sabres did enough to keep the pressure on. Meanwhile, the Flyers were trailing by two goals or more for the 12th time in 17 games this month, and appeared to be physically spent from the frantic nature of third periods earlier in the month, as recently as Monday.
On a late power play, the Flyers pulled the goalie and Brandon Montour scored into the empty net to make it 5-1 and seal the result. Just 37 seconds later, while still shorthanded, Montour scored again on a rebound to make it 6-1 and cap the scoring.
Ullmark finished the game with 30 saves. Lyon stopped 9 of 10 shots he faced.
Fogarty had a goal and an assist. Ristolainen had two assists, as did Okposo and Jacob Bryson.
The Flyers next take the ice on Saturday night as they face the New York Islanders at 7 p.m.
- BUF Sam Reinhart (13) (Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Ristolainen) 9:32
- BUF Curtis Lazar (5) (Riley Sheahan) 11:59
- PHI Ivan Provorov (6) (Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek) 3:50
- BUF Steven Fogarty (1) (Ristolainen, Jacob Bryson) 9:42
- BUF Casey Mittelstadt (2) (Fogarty, Bryson) 15:39
- BUF Brandon Montour (3) EN-SH (Unassisted) 14:53
- BUF Montour (4) SH (Okposo) 15:30
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.