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After falling behind 2-0 early, Alex Tuch and the Sabres stopped Travis Sanheim and the Flyers dead in their tracks. (Joshua Bessex/ AP Photo)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 75: PHI 3, BUF 4 – Shot Down

After falling behind 2-0 early, Alex Tuch and the Sabres stopped Travis Sanheim and the Flyers dead in their tracks. (Joshua Bessex/ AP Photo)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 75: PHI 3, BUF 4 – Shot Down

Phila Unite, Smash The Bell, Bring It To Broad. One of these slogans is not like the others. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 4-3, to the Buffalo Sabres. On a day where the 76ers and Phillies won in dominant fashion, the Flyers also pulled out of a victory… if you’re talking in terms of draft lottery odds. On the ice, though, it was Buffalo celebrating a win in the front half of a home-and-home between the teams that concludes Sunday night in Philadelphia.

We all know that the scoreboard can be misleading in some sports games. But really, there are two levels to this disillusion. The first is the type of things that happen in the waning moments of a game. A pick-six thrown on a 4th-and-15 at your own 35. Intentionally fouling a team down the stretch to stop the clock. An empty-net goal, or two, or occasionally even three.

There weren’t any of those on Saturday night in Buffalo. What there was, however, was a game full of the second type of misleading sports outcomes, one where the number in the goal, point or run column doesn’t indicate how the game is being played. Think of a team getting to the red zone but settling for three or failing to score. A baseball team putting runner after runner in scoring position but the next hitter(s) not capitalizing. In hockey, we usually see this in the shot or the penalty column. There’s a reason I often list one or both to support my statement of how well or poorly the Flyers played in a game or period. You can win a game that you don’t put yourself in a great position to lose, and vice versa.

This isn’t the first time all season the Flyers have been dramatically outplayed. And even though they only have seven games remaining, five against teams not in a playoff spot, it probably won’t be the last. What it might be, however, is the most egregious shellacking the Flyers have taken all year. On two days’ rest, against a below-average play-driving Sabres team, the Flyers were all but run off the ice. Through two periods, the shot attempts in all situations were 46-14 Buffalo. That’s with the Sabres only having 27 more seconds of power-play time, by the way.

“We didn’t play well tonight. In all areas of the game,” said Mike Yeo. “We tried to play an easy game. I don’t think we by any means carried the play (at 5-on-5).” Spoiler alert: Yeo’s right.

So how did the Flyers hang with the Sabres in the goal department? Usually, special teams play a key role, but that wasn’t even the reason. Philadelphia’s power-play continues to struggle, going 0-4, including failing on three PP chances to tie the game in the 3rd. Meanwhile, arguably Buffalo’s two biggest goals — their first and their last — came on the man-advantage. The Flyers did jump out to an early 2-0 lead, and they have their two newest right wingers to thank for it. Bobby Brink nearly scored his first NHL goal on a slick breakaway move, but Joel Farabee had to chip the rebound over the goal-line himself. Owen Tippett flicked the puck past Craig Anderson off a seemingly broken rush just 2:14 later.

But then the aforementioned play-driving woes kicked in. Kyle Okposo, who suffered a scary-looking injury at one point in the game but thankfully returned, started the scoring with a backdoor slam-dunk on the power-play. Rasmus Dahlin would score a near-identical goal shortly thereafter, knotting the game before its halfway point. After Vinnie Hinostroza answered a picture-perfect snipe by Travis Konecny with a goal of his own, Tage Thompson buried a power-play marker after being robbed earlier in the game by Jones to give Buffalo the lead for good.

The Flyers did offer some pushback in the third, outshooting Buffalo 10-2. But it was too little too late, and that would’ve been the case even if they had won. Of course, anything good about the Flyers’ season in April could fit under that category. But it was especially poignant tonight, on a night where the Flyers were so badly outplayed with no specific explanation other than simply that they were. The Sabres shut down Philadelphia’s quiet power-play, hemmed them against the boards and in their own end after Jones left for an extra attacker, and earned a far more lopsided win than the one they got. Perhaps that says more about the Sabres themselves than the Flyers. But there’s no real room for the Flyers to talk back, or feel good about anything, as their coach said, after such an inexcusable abomination of a game, and frankly, a season.

Lindies

The Flyers are just 18-8-7 when scoring first after tonight’s loss. In other words, in 33 games where the Flyers have been automatically spotted a 1-0 lead, they’ve lost 15 of them, including eight in regulation.

If it makes the Flyers feel any better, Washington did hang eight goals on Montréal. Although the Capitals did surrender eight to Toronto earlier in the week so who knows.

Buffalo has now won four straight against the Flyers, dating back to their final meeting of 2020-21. This is the first time since a five-game run from Oct. 10, 2001, to Oct. 22, 2002, the Flyers have lost at least four straight to the Sabres. For context, that stretch started 19 days before I was born.

The Sabres have also won three straight at KeyBank Center against the Flyers, dating back to the win that snapped their infamous 18-game losing streak last season.

Noah Cates picked up his first career NHL assist (remember, he’s already got two goals) on Konecny’s tally. Speaking of, it was refreshing to see Konecny pick the corner as perfectly as he did on that goal. Konecny hasn’t looked like a three-time 24-goal scorer nearly enough this season, but boy did he ever on that shot. Couldn’t have placed it any better.

Felix Sandström backed up Martin Jones tonight. He was briefly sent back to the AHL yesterday but recalled again today on emergency conditions. Seems likely that Carter Hart’s season will end prematurely to injury for the second straight year. Tanner Laczynski’s emergency call-up ended, however, and he was sent back to the Phantoms for the time being.

If you’re a Philadelphia fan looking for some Sixers coverage, check out Jarrod Prosser’s NBA playoff preview on the latest episode of our That’s Some Cheese podcast!

Finally, on a more positive note: expect my first 7th-Day Stretch article of 2022, the weekly-to-bi-weekly Phillies series I write on Vendetta, to return either tomorrow or Monday. And happy Easter and Passover to all who celebrate!

3 Stars

3rd: Kyle Okposo (BUF) – Goal (20)

2nd: Vinnie Hinostroza (BUF) – Goal (12), 3 Shots

1st: Rasmus Dahlin (BUF) – Goal (11), Assist (37), 22:33 TOI

Next

4/17, 5 PM: BUF (28-38-11) vs. PHI (23-41-11)

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